UK Box Office

Chris Pine as Jack Ryan in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

In the battle for UK audiences, it’s honours even between best picture Oscar nominees The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave, which have all achieved totals so far between £10.9m and £11.2m (see chart below). Respective distributors Universal, Entertainment Films and eOne all have reason to be proud of the results.

The previous best result for a team-up between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio – or any Scorsese film at all, for that matter – was The Departed, which reached £12.86m over its lifetime. The Wolf of Wall Street will easily cruise past that tally this week. With £10.9m after just 10 days, it’s conceivable that the film could overtake Hannibal (£21.6m) to become the biggest ever 18-certificate hit at the UK box office. Other notable 18-cert titles include American Beauty (£21.3m) and Seven (£19.5m).

As for American Hustle, David O Russell’s previous best was Three Kings with just under £7m, followed by The Fighter (£6.3m) and Silver Linings Playbook (£5.3m). The new picture is already at £11.2m, and a sum in the mid-teens millions looks likely.

Perhaps most remarkable of all is the UK performance of 12 Years a Slave. The film is lagging far behind the Scorsese and Russell films in the US, having grossed $43.6m (£26.3m) there, as against $98.6m for Wolf and $127m for Hustle. Fox Searchlight is pushing Slave back into US cinemas, and grosses went up 32% at the weekend, but it has a long way to catch up. So far, the positioning there has been relatively niche for a sobering historical drama from auteur Steve McQueen. Whereas here in the UK, an aggressive campaign by eOne has seen the film expand to a broad 481 cinemas, achieving £11.0m so far, dead level with both Wolf and Hustle. Again, mid-teens millions looks a slam-dunk, and probably more. If it wins the best picture Oscar on 2 March, the number goes higher.

Last year, two wildly commercial best picture nominees, Les Miserables and Life of Pi, delivered a combined £70m at the UK box office. This year’s nominees seemed creatively very strong, but commercially weaker. However, with Gravity closing in on £30m, the 2014 best picture contenders look set to match the box office of the 2013 crop, at least in the UK. Other highlights include Captain Phillips with £15.9m and Philomena on £10.9m. Fellow nominees Dallas Buyers Club and Her have yet to release.


The marathon runner

Dropping a slim 4% from the previous weekend, Frozen has now achieved an amazing eighth consecutive weekend at £1m-plus. Not even Skyfall managed that, since its eighth-weekend takings were £809,000. Among other box-office monsters, the front-loaded Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 only managed five weekends at £1m-plus, and The Dark Knight Rises achieved six. The last film to pull off the feat was the slow-burn The King’s Speech , back in January-February 2011. Others that managed it are Mamma Mia! and Avatar.

Frozen has so far reached £35.6m, and is set to receive a further boost from a singalong version being released into UK cinemas to coincide with the February half-term school holiday. Disney long ago billed Frozen as its biggest UK hit from Walt Disney Animation Studios (NB Pixar is separate), having quickly overtaken The Lion King’s 2D tally of £23.14m. However, now it has genuinely earned this accolade, having passed the combined £35.5m earned by The Lion King from its various 2D and 3D releases.

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