After three weeks of back-to-back blockbuster releases (Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious 6, The Great Gatsby and The Hangover Part III), UK cinemas drew breath at the weekend with a relatively modest set of new films, led by dystopian horror-thriller The Purge.
Consequently holdover titles occupied the top five places in the chart – the first time the top five failed to include a new entrant since Christmas weekend 2011, when Bollywood title Don 2 was the only significant new release.
On its second weekend of play, The Hangover Part III held on to the top spot, and has grossed £13.5m in 12 days. That compares with £21.1m for The Hangover Part II at the same stage of its run. Based on that discrepancy, Part III is headed for a total around £21m. A gentler decline would see it overtake the original The Hangover's UK total of £22.1m.
In second place, Fast & Furious 6 has reached a sturdy £21.5m after 17 days on release. That's ahead of the lifetime totals of the other films in the series – beating previous best Fast & Furious 5's £18.5m – and suggest a final figure of about £27m, which should be enough to make it one of the 10 biggest hits of 2013. Currently it's in fourth position, behind Les Misérables (£40.6m), Iron Man 3 (£36.4m) and Star Trek Into Darkness (£23m).
Falls from the previous weekend for these top five titles range from 33% to 42% – all reasonable drops considering the good weather. On the other hand, none faced much in the way of fresh competition.
When Epic opened with just £1.76m (plus £1.43m from four days of previews), it seemed the Fox/Blue Sky animation was headed for a lacklustre total. But its subsequent success is a reminder never to underestimate the power of the half-term holiday audience. In the seven days after its opening period, Epic added a mighty £6.94m, for a total so far of £10.13m. Now the holiday has ended, expect grosses to dip sharply, especially on weekdays. Back in 2011, Blue Sky's Rio performed a similar feat, debuting with a poor £1.52m, then going on to reach a decent £13.6m
The new releases
Despite opening at £1m-plus, top new release The Purge settled for sixth place. That's the first time the chart has included six films grossing seven-figure sums since mid-February, when A Good Day to Die Hard, Wreck-It Ralph, This Is 40, Les Misérables, Beautiful Creatures and I Give It a Year occupied the top six with £1m-plus. The Purge comes from prolific producer Jason Blum, whose last effort, Dark Skies, debuted in April with £1.03m including £323,000 in previews. The Purge managed £1.02m, without the benefit of previews.
Landing one place below is comedy The Big Wedding, with a mediocre £596,000 including £201,000 in previews. Strip out those Wednesday/Thursday takings and the film's screen average falls to an anaemic £935. After the picture debuted in the US with a weak $7.6m, The Big Wedding always faced an uphill battle in the UK, despite a cast including Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Topher Grace, Ben Barnes and Amanda Seyfried. A critics' Metascore of 28/100 suggests the creative result is far from fully achieved, although the market for wedding comedies has never been particularly reliant on critical plaudits.
Also opening weakly is Neil Jordan's Byzantium, starring Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan. Uncomfortably positioned between genre flick and arthouse film, this one always looked to be a tough sell for distributor StudioCanal, and so it proved. A gross of £114,000 from 160 screens yielded a sickly average of £715. French fancy Populaire achieved a higher average from a tighter release, but £106,000 from 76 cinemas is hardly cause for wild celebration.
The Bollywood hit
Providing the biggest Bollywood opening of the year so far – beating Race 2, which landed in January with £356,000 – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani debuts with a nifty £408,000 from 88 sites. The romantic drama stars Ranbir Kapoor (RockStar) and Deepika Padukone (Cocktail), and is directed by Ayan Mukherjee (Wake Up Sid).
Given the weak set of new releases and the sunny weather, it's no surprise that grosses are 29% down on the previous weekend, and 26% down on the equivalent frame from 2012, when Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman both delivered a jolt to the market. This weekend, Will Smith and son Jaden arrive in sci-fi After Earth from M Night Shyamalan: a surefire blockbuster, you'd think, were it not for the disappointing US opening. Steven Soderbergh's Behind the Candelabra, made for HBO in the US but getting a theatrical release everywhere else, should pull in discerning audiences that are traditionally underserved in the summer. The Last Exorcism: Part II is an alternative for horror fans, while The Iceman is a hitman biopic starring Michael Shannon.
Top 10 films
1. The Hangover Part III, £2,917,887 from 498 sites. Total: £13,532,954
2. Fast & Furious 6, £2,054,372 from 489 sites. Total: £21,506,188
3. Epic, £1,988,507 from 532 sites. Total: £10,129,040
4. Star Trek Into Darkness, £1,315,069 from 460 sites. Total: £23,036,411
5. The Great Gatsby, £1,302,008 from 460 sites. Total: £12,056,175
6. The Purge, £1,019,877 from 348 sites (New)
7. The Big Wedding, £595,956 from 422 sites (New)
8. Iron Man 3, £429,102 from 358 sites. Total: £36,358,709
9. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, £408,491 from 88 sites (New)
10. Byzantium, £114,339 from 160 sites (New)
• Thanks to Rentrak
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