Delivering the biggest UK opening number since The Inbetweeners 2 three months ago, Interstellar tops the chart with a weekend gross greater than the films in second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth places all added together. However, the £5.38m opening is down on the £5.91m debut of Inception, from July 2010. The Inception comparison is apt, since both these Christopher Nolan films are based on original ideas, rather than benefiting from audience interest in established characters. The Dark Knight Rises – a less suitable comparison – debuted here with £14.36m in July 2012.
Distributor Warners will point to the running time of Interstellar (169 minutes) putting a brake on box office: cinemas have more limited opportunities to squeeze in two evening showtimes with a film of such epic duration. On the other hand, multiplexes can simply programme on more screens to get round the problem. Inception came in at a relatively trim 148 minutes.
Interstellar opened on exactly the same date as Gravity a year ago – another Imax-friendly cerebral space adventure from a commercial auteur director. Gravity debuted with £6.24m, including £619,000 in previews, going on to achieve a robust £27.1m by year’s end, and £32.7m by the end of its run. Positive audience approval will be needed to give Interstellar an equivalent sustain, and awards attention would also help.
Rising from seventh to second place, Mr Turner continues its remarkable box-office performance, with £2.67m after 10 days. That’s already more than the lifetime gross of any previous Mike Leigh film.
Distributor eOne is following an aggressive strategy never tried before with a Mike Leigh title, expanding in week two to a hefty 252 cinemas. That of course means that the screen average on the second weekend has diluted – but at £4,026 it’s still an attractive number. More cinemas, evidently, are clamouring to take the film, and Mr Turner expands its site count to 380 from Friday.
Among venues Mr Turner expanded into, best-performing were Bluewater Showcase, Vue Plymouth, The Quad in Derby and Eastbourne Cineworld. Overall, after 10 days, Odeon has highest market share on the film, and the Olympic Barnes is the biggest-grossing site. Following more of a London/South-east skew on opening weekend, eOne reports that the business is spreading more regionally as the run progresses. Now that the film is at more than 250 venues, multiplex sites outnumber arthouses.
Vera Drake (£2.38m lifetime) is the only other Mike Leigh film to crack £2m in the UK. Secrets & Lies, Happy Go Lucky, Another Year and Topsy-Turvy all landed in the £1-2m range. With Mr Turner performing strongly on weekdays as well as at the weekend, it’s reasonable to assume that £5m is now a very safe bet for the title. Bafta nominations in the new year could extend the film’s life into January and February. Including Monday takings, Mr Turner now has an 11-day cume of £2.86m.