The winner: Kong: Skull Island
When Logan debuted a week ago with £6.95m (plus previews), Warners executives would have been forgiven for last-minute nerves over the release of Kong: Skull Island. After all, Logan was enjoying warm critical and audience approval, and a strong hold for Wolverine’s final outing looked likely. Would the market expand to accommodate two action pictures at the same time?
In the event, Skull Island opened with £5.62m plus previews of £615,000 for a £6.23m total, knocking Logan off the top spot. There are two obvious comparison titles. The first is Godzilla, which lumbered out of the gate in May 2014 with £5.20m plus previews of £1.19m. Ignoring previews, Skull Island is 8% up on that one. The other is Peter Jackson’s King Kong, which was set loose in December 2005, debuting with £6m plus £948,000 in previews. Again ignoring previews, Skull Island is 6% down on that.
Despite beginning with fairly similar numbers, Godzilla ended up with £17.2m and King Kong with £30.1m.
The runner-up: Logan
Given the arrival of Kong: Skull Island, Fox and Marvel should be happy with a 45% decline from the previous weekend for Logan. After 12 days, it has taken a solid £16.86m, which is more than the lifetime totals of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (£16.38m) and The Wolverine (£13.77m). It’s also ahead of the final totals for the original X-Men (£14.98m) and X-Men: First Class (£15.10m).
Only one X-Men film – Days of Future Past (2014) – reached a bigger number than Logan after two weekends. That film’s final £27.1m is the target Logan is chasing, although it’s likely to come up a bit short.
The arthouse hit: Elle
Narrowly missing out on a place in the Top 10, Paul Verhoeven’s Elle begins with a sturdy £223,000 from 62 cinemas, with previews taking that tally to £254,000. Not counting Bollywood film Raees, this is the biggest opening for any foreign language film this year. Excluding Bollywood and Polish-language films, Elle was beaten last year only by Pedro Almodóvar’s Julieta, which began with £356,000 on its way to £1.34m.
So far, the biggest foreign language arthouse title this year is Toni Erdmann, now at £531,000. Elle is likely to overtake the German comedy this weekend. Last year, Huppert starred in Mia Hansen-Løve’s Things to Come, which reached £233,000 – a figure already surpassed by Elle. Notable entries on the the actor’s prolific CV include Michael Haneke’s The Piano Teacher, which grossed £447,000 in 2001.
The awards movie battle
Films that benefited from the awards season remain unusually buoyant, helped by the relatively late release of titles such as Moonlight and Hidden Figures, and by sustained audience support for Lion. All three of those titles remain in the Top 10 – for the eighth successive week in the case of Lion. The Top 30 contains four other best picture Oscar nominees: La La Land, Fences, Hacksaw Ridge and Manchester By the Sea. Best picture winner Moonlight was once again the star performer at the weekend, remaining steady in fifth place, and with a UK tally now of £3.35m.
La La Land reached £30m in the UK last week, which is more than the final tallies of any of last year’s best picture Oscar nominees (best was The Revenant with £23.4m) or 2015’s batch (best was The Theory of Everything with £21.5m). La La Land has achieved the highest gross for a best picture nominee since Gravity earned £32.7m at the end of 2013.
The documentary hit: Dancer
Dancer, a documentary about Ukrainian ballet star Sergei Polunin, grossed a modest £16,000 from 16 cinemas at the weekend, but its opening tally is reported as a far more impressive £205,000. That’s overwhelmingly down to a special preview event held on 2 March, which included a Polunin performance and Q&A and was relayed live to 194 cinemas. This makes Dancer the highest-grossing documentary so far this year. Next comes Don’t Take Me Home (“The incredible true story of the Welsh football team’s 2016 Euros”) with £93,000.
The 18-certificate hit
Still in the Top 10 after five weeks, Fifty Shades Darker has just overtaken The Wolf of Wall Street (£22.70m) to become the second-biggest 18-certificate title in the UK – behind Fifty Shades of Grey (£35.1m). Although Fifty Shades Darker ended the weekend about £5,000 behind the Wolf of Wall Street number, Monday’s takings push it ahead, with £22.73m. Next in the list is Gone Girl, with £22.37m.
Despite the arrival of Skull Island, takings overall are 16% down on the previous session. However, they are 16% up on the equivalent weekend from 2016, when Kung Fu Panda 3 was the top new release. Box office has been up on the year-ago equivalent weekends for four weeks. Takings have been up on 2016 for seven of the 10 weekends so far this year, buoyed by hits including La La Land, Sing, The Lego Batman Movie and Fifty Shades Darker.
The good news looks set to continue this weekend with the arrival of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, which is a live-action remake of the studio’s 1991 animated classic. The UK’s cinema chains are gung-ho about the likely commercial outcome of this title, so look for a big opening. In a nice piece of counter-programming, Universal offers Jordan Peele’s Get Out, a twisted indie horror that has already grossed a sensational $111m in the US. Also in the mix: Kristen Stewart in Olivier Assayas’s Personal Shopper; Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s foreign language Oscar winner The Salesman; and Japanese anime A Silent Voice.
Top 10 films, 10-12 March
1. Kong: Skull Island, £6,230,997 from 567 sites (new)
2. Logan, £3,858,463 from 602 sites. Total: £16,855,344 (two weeks)
3. The Lego Batman Movie, £820,264 from 585 sites. Total: £25,986,076 (four weeks)
4. Viceroy’s House, £573,109 from 485 sites. Total: £2,340,217 (two weeks)
5. Moonlight, £476,419 from 411 sites. Total: £3,353,492 (four weeks)
6. Sing, £458,981 from 545 sites. Total: £28,023,528 (seven weeks)
7. Hidden Figures, £401,197 from 369 sites. Total: £5,311,227 (four weeks)
8. Lion, £331,413 from 317 sites. Total: £10,883,060 (eight weeks)
9. La Traviata – Met Opera, £323,284 from 176 sites (new)
10. Fifty Shades Darker, £302,808 from 358 sites. Total: £22,694,878 (five weeks)
Elle, £253,619 (including £30,797 previews) from 62 sites
Dancer, £204,574 (including £188,584 previews) from 16 sites
Badrinath Ki Dulhania, £187,585 from 58 sites
The Time of Their Lives, £106,883 from 183 sites
The Love Witch, £14,244 from 10 sites
Catfight, £2,192 from three sites
Uncertain, £1,630 from one site
The Chamber, £517 from two sites
IT, £343 from 11 sites
• Thanks to comScore. All figures relate to takings in UK and Ireland cinemas.
Kong: Skull Island is king of the UK box office – The Guardian (blog)