UK Box Office

No room for South African robot caper Chappie as the later-life comedy sequel comfortably matches its own predecessor.

Film Review The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Falling a decent 36%, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel comfortably held on to the top spot for a second week, rebuffing the challenge of new releases such as Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie. After 11 days, the ensemble comedy has grossed a healthy £8.64m.

So far, Second Best Exotic is performing rather differently in the marketplace to its predecessor, although no less successfully. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotelbegan in late February 2012 with a £2.22m opening weekend, increasing 5% in its second frame to £2.34m. At that stage of its run, after two weekends of play, it stood at £7.01m.

With the sequel, it’s been a different story. Second Best Exotic began with a stonking £3.07m (plus previews of £705,000), dropping to £1.96m for the second session. It’s now reasonable to assume that this second film won’t match the extraordinary sustained performance of the first one, which managed a final total that was 9.2 times its opening number (ie £20.4m). If Second Best Exotic manages to quintuple its debut tally, it will get to £15m, which would still be a strong and very profitable result for Fox UK, with foreign all to come.

Like its predecessor, Second Best Exotic is performing well on weekdays, grossing a solid £2.91m during the Monday-to-Thursday period last week. The film should go into this weekend with £10.5m already grossed at UK cinemas.

The indie hit
Although Second Best Exotic managed a healthy site average of £3,240, it was no match for Still Alice, which achieved the best per-cinema number of any film on release: £4,454. The US indie drama grossed a very strong £383,000 from 86 venues, plus £18,500 in previews.

The success of Still Alice is a vindication of distributor Curzon’s strategy, which was to wait for all of the major awards contenders to play out to UK audiences, holding back release until after the Oscars ceremony. In doing so, it gambled that Julianne Moore would, as expected, win the best actress prize. In order to make the film eligible for the Baftas (another win for Moore), Curzon quietly released the film for one week in December at Curzon Ripon in North Yorkshire.

Despite Moore’s clean sweep of all the major actress prizes, it was by no means certain that audiences would show up for Still Alice. Adulatory reviews made the film sound not so cheery, given the early-onset Alzheimer’s storyline. But the timing was perfect, with no other film offering direct competition, and intense audience curiosity for a film that had been included in all the awards conversations, but which had been almost impossible to see. Still Alice had been leaked online after Sony’s server was hacked in November, but most pirate sites were swiftly shut down, and, in any case, the target audience for Still Alice hardly overlaps with regular viewers of pirated material.

Curzon received investment from the BFI’s distribution fund in order to help the film break out to a broader audience. This it now looks set to do: Still Alice expands to 200 cinemas from this Friday.

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