Predictions for the box-office gross of Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie were all over the map. Pessimists pointed out that both Keith Lemon: The Film and The Harry Hill Movie had failed to convert their significant TV followings into equivalent legions of cinema customers. And with the average age of the Mrs Brown TV viewer believed to be around 50, the audience didn’t suggest itself as one apt to leave its sofa in droves for the multiplex. On the other hand, with Lemon and Harry Hill, the film-making teams had faced the challenge of converting characters most famous for a panel game show (Celebrity Juice) and a playful take on the week’s TV (TV Burp) into scripted features. Mrs Brown’s Boys is already a scripted sitcom, and creatively more suited to a big-screen close-up. Could D’Movie’s success land closer to The Inbetweeners Movie than to Lemon and Harry Hill?
The achieved result, a £4.30m opening weekend in UK and Ireland, represents the top end of industry expectations. It’s understandably well down on The Inbetweeners Movie’s debut of £13.22m including previews of £4.57m back in August 2011. But it’s a big improvement on the opening salvos of both Lemon (£1.20m) and Harry Hill (£550,000). It’s also well up on the first frame of last summer’s Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (£2.18m including previews of £744,000).
Ireland is always included in reports of UK box office, and on this occasion will have over-indexed relative to its population size. Mrs Brown’s Boys has already sold over 5m DVDs in the UK, and D’Movie, positioned to hit retailers at the end of October (assuming a standard four-month theatrical window), will surely be a huge gifting item this Christmas.
The film was barely professionally reviewed in the UK, achieved by the simple expedient of not offering any press screenings. The Daily Telegraph’s Robbie Collin was one of the hardy few to report from the multiplex frontline, describing its plot as “a maudlin and sentimental grind”, and observing of one ethnically stereotyped scene: “This isn’t funny. It isn’t even unfunny. It’s something close to anti-funny.” The Guardian’s Mike McCahill dubbed the film a “thin stew” and a “flatly indifferent cash-in”.