Plain Sailing for ‘Dunkirk’ at Box Office

The winner: Dunkirk

If Christopher Nolan’s second world war drama stunned with its £10.02m UK opening weekend, then what happened next is surely even more remarkable. Dunkirk fell only 18% for its second session, posting second-weekend takings of £8.24m. And strong weekday results last week mean that the film added £17m for the seven days since the opening frame, for a 10-day total of £27.02m.

Dunkirk’s second weekend takings are stronger than those of any title this year, apart from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast – a box-office phenomenon and the eighth biggest film of all time at UK cinemas. Before that, you’d have to go back to Warners’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which took £8.89m in its second frame and went on to achieve a total of £54.6m.

Films released in the school holiday period can pile on the box office quickly, since families, or at least children, are available to go to the cinema any day of the week, rather than just at weekends. Dunkirk, however, is hardly a family film, so it’s surprising to see it perform so well on weekdays during the holiday period. Reports from cinemas are that the audience demographics are very mixed. The older (especially 60-plus) cinema-going cohort is traditionally strong on weekdays, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the 12A-certificate Dunkirk is also playing to families with older children.

Despicable Me 3 repels Captain Underpants

In the official comScore chart, DreamWorks Animation’s well-reviewed Captain Underpants has opened with a decent £2.50m, enough for second place in the box-office chart. It’s worth noting, however, that the film opened last Monday, so this is a seven-day figure. For the weekend, Captain Underpants grossed £1.27m, which puts it in fifth place.

Meanwhile, Universal Illumination’s Despicable Me 3 remains the top animation, falling 27% from the previous weekend, and adding £5.53m over the past seven days. Total box office so far is a chunky £35.8m. Competitor Cars 3 is down to seventh place, and has so far grossed £7.40m. It’s going to need a miracle to prevent Cars 3 from becoming Pixar’s lowest-grossing film in the UK, an honour currently held by The Good Dinosaur (£15.1m lifetime).

The magnificent seven

Girls Trip

With seven films each grossing more than £1m at the weekend, there is an untypical depth in the current movie marketplace. The last time as many as seven titles took £1m on the same weekend was the final session of 2016, which was a statistical quirk: three of the films on that occasion only earned £1m for the weekend, when significant previews were added. Before that, you’d have to go all the way back to the first weekend of 2015 to find a session with as many films all earning £1m.

The seven £1m-plus titles for the current frame include Girls Trip, which offers an African American spin on the women behaving badly genre (see BridesmaidsBad MomsSnatched and the soon-arriving Rough Night). Plenty of films with African American ensemble casts have struggled at the UK box office – for example Think Like a Man, which reached $92m in the US and managed just £664,000 here. Results like that can cause defeatism, so Universal deserves credit for believing in Girls Trip, which debuted with £1.16m and £1.56m including previews.

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