After the five-star critical adulation that greeted Mike Leigh’s new film in Cannes, prospects for Mr Turner always looked strong. On the other hand, Topsy-Turvy – the director’s other celebration of 19th-century artistic achievement – sits only in a modestly respectable fifth place in the Leigh box-office table, behind Vera Drake, Secrets and Lies, Another Year and Happy-Go-Lucky. The biggest UK opening for a Leigh film came from Happy-Go-Lucky, with £385,000 from 77 cinemas.
It’s fair to say that Mr Turner opened above and beyond industry expectations, with £905,000 from 129 cinemas, including £24,400 in previews. That delivered a site average of £7,015, by far the biggest of any film in the market. Top site was the Curzon Chelsea, with an impressive £19,900, and top cinema from a multiplex chain Odeon Richmond. Outside the capital, top site was Cambridge Picturehouse, and top regional multiplex Guildford Odeon.
Distributor eOne reported that the film did exceptionally well in London, as you’d expect for a reviews-driven title, but also in the south-east in general, with big numbers at plexes in Guildford, Tunbridge Wells and Chichester.
At 150 minutes, the epic length of the film posed a challenge to programmers trying to offer customers a choice of two evening showtimes, and there was evidence of straddling across two screens, alternating with a shorter film. After the Friday numbers came in, some cinemas promoted Mr Turner to screens with bigger seating capacity.
The film is playing an even balance of arthouses and multiplexes, with the former scoring particularly well on Friday. Growth on Saturday came more in the plexes, perhaps as a result of bigger screen allocations or tinkering with showtimes. Across the weekend, Picturehouse claimed top share, with 18% of Mr Turner’s box-office.
Due to its limited screen count, Mr Turner had to content itself with seventh place in the weekend chart. However, partly thanks to family films and horror pictures fading on Monday, Mr Turner found itself surging to become the top-grossing title on that day, auguring well for continued success. The film expands to about 250 cinemas from its second weekend, by far the widest play for a Leigh title. The director’s biggest ever hit, Vera Drake, enjoyed an exceptionally sustained run, eventually reaching £2.38m. It’s now a question of when, not if, Mr Turner exceeds that figure.