UK Box Office

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire

Seven years after the original 300 film, and with Gerard Butler’s slain character missing this time around, it was by no means certain that audiences had an appetite for second helpings. But backers Warners and Legendary Pictures will be plenty happy with the opening numbers for 300: Rise of an Empire in the US and internationally. In the UK, the film, from director Noam Murro (Smart People) and starring Australian actor Sullivan Stapleton (Animal Kingdom), achieved a robust £2.76m debut. While that’s well down on 300’s opening salvo – £4.75m including previews of £784,000 – it’s not bad for a film that seemed short of marketable elements other than the 300 brand name.

Rise of an Empire knocked The Lego Movie off the top spot after a three-week run. The Warners animation has now grossed £28.8m after 19 days of play, putting it just behind Shrek on £29m. Next in its sights in the all-time box-office league for animation: A Bug’s Life (£29.45m) and Chicken Run (£29.51m).

 

The art-house crossover

 

The sunny weather across much of the UK at the weekend must have given a few worries to the distribution and exhibition industries and none more so than at Fox: its Grand Budapest Hotel, with an upscale and older audience skew, might have been expected to perform robustly at Sunday matinees, which is when the sunshine was at its most glorious. However, it’s hard to point to the weather having impacted box-office, since the film debuted with a very impressive £1.53m, including previews of £96,000.

The number is the biggest ever for a Wes Anderson film, beating even hit animation Fantastic Mr Fox, which debuted in 2009 with £1.52m, albeit without the benefit of previews. In live action, Anderson’s box-office has been much more modest, with both The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic opening in the £430-460,000 range. His last film, Moonrise Kingdom, began with a soft £252,000 in May 2012, although the film faced sunny skies on its opening weekend, and recovered to achieve a decent £2m by the end of its run.

With Wes Anderson, you would always expect a strong performance on weekdays and in daytime, and a relatively gradual erosion of audience overall, so signs are propitious for a big final number. It all depends on whether audience word on the 1930s-set comedy matches the ecstatic reviews. Currently, the IMDb user rating of 8.4/10 is in line with a MetaCritic score of 86/100. So far, box office from the Secret Cinema run in London’s Farringdon has not been added. The event is playing six shows per week for a five-week run, with a ticket price of £53.50, and could gross in the region of £500,000. How much of the ticket price flows back to Fox is anyone’s guess, but obviously a large chunk is needed to cover the costs of the Secret Cinema experience.

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