With Finding Dory now the most successful animated movie of all time at the US box-office ($469m so far), the pressure was on the UK division of Disney – which has always performed well with Pixar movies – to come up with a similar result.
The winner: Finding Dory
And the Finding Nemo sequel has certainly gotten off to a flying start, with debut weekend takings of £8.12m. That’s the second biggest three-day opening for a Disney or Pixar animated film, behind only Toy Story 3, which began in July 2010 with £11.49m, plus previews of £9.69m. In terms of the whole animation sector, including companies such as DreamWorks Animation and Illumination Entertainment, Finding Dory has delivered the seventh-biggest three-day opening, behind Minions, Toy Story 3, Shrek 2, Shrek the Third, Despicable Me 2 and The Simpsons Movie.
If previews are included in opening weekend tallies, then several other films leapfrog Finding Dory, including The Secret Life of Pets (£9.58m including £3.63m in previews). To replicate Finding Dory’s US success and become the biggest animated title ever in the UK, the film would have to overtake Toy Story 3, which reached £73.8m. That almost certainly won’t happen. A more realistic target is Pixar’s second biggest UK hit, Toy Story 2 (£44.4m, not including the 3D re-release), or its third, Monsters, Inc (£37.9m). Even matching Finding Nemo (£37.4m) would be a significant achievement.
One factor in the film’s favour is that it has the whole of the rest of the summer school holiday ahead of it, with none of the family films yet to come (such as Pete’s Dragon and Swallows and Amazons) offering equivalent commercial appeal. The Secret Life of Pets is still in the Top 10, but having already passed the £30m milestone at the weekend, it has now presumably reached the bulk of its total audience. Ice Age: Collision Course, which grossed less than £200,000 at the weekend, looks a rather spent force, with a poor £6.06m so far.
The runner-up: Jason Bourne
When Universal extended its Bourne franchise with 2012’s The Bourne Legacy, starring Jeremy Renner, the film debuted in the UK with £2.10m plus previews of £2.54m, on its way to a final total of £11.11m. That was a big drop from 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum – the last to feature Matt Damon, and the last to be directed by Paul Greengrass – which reached a final total of just below £24m. With Jason Bourne, both Damon and Greengrass are back, and so are audiences. The fifth film in the franchise – and the fourth to feature the central character – has started its UK run with £5.31m including previews, taking the five-day opening total to £7.60m. That compares with a debut for The Bourne Ultimatum of £5.32m, or £6.55m including previews.
Like The BFG the week before, Jason Bourne has proved a welcome programming fit not just at multiplex venues but also at independent cinemas, trading on the cachet of its director, actor and brand. The fact that arthouse hits are currently few and far between is also encouraging indie venues to veer into a more mainstream programming mix. Even if Jason Bourne ultimately fails to catch Ultimatum, it will have no problem sailing past the lifetime totals of The Bourne Identity (£7.88m) and The Bourne Supremacy (£11.56m).
The strong hold: The BFG
With The BFG landing on the release calendar on 22 July and Finding Dory on 29 July, the pressure was always on distributor eOne to grab as much cash as possible in the film’s first seven days. Because who knew how it would fare in competition with the mighty Pixar?
Two things to say. First, The BFG did indeed enjoy a mighty first week, grossing a very nifty £11.12m. And second, it’s not over yet. Despite the arrival of Finding Dory, The BFG in fact declined by the smallest margin of any film in the Top 10, down a reasonable 37%. A second-weekend gross of £3.36m raises the 10-day tally to £14.48m. In the US, The BFG has grossed $52m after five weeks, and is reaching the end of its theatrical life. An equivalent gross in the UK would be just over £5m, so it’s clear that The BFG is in fact going to achieve a significant rise on that number. In the US, the film has the advantage of powerhouse distributor Disney, with all its marketing channels including television, stores and theme parks, not to mention the trusted authority of the Disney brand. In the UK, eOne’s advantage was the special regard for author Roald Dahl and the film’s British characters and setting.
The indie wipeout
The current Top 10 features one Bollywood film (Dishoom) plus nine major studio pictures including four sequels (Finding Dory, Jason Bourne, Star Trek Beyond, Ice Age: Collision Course), one reboot (Ghostbusters) and three appropriation of familiar brands (The BFG, The Legend of Tarzan, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie). Illumination Entertainment’s The Secret Life of Pets wins points for introducing a fresh concept to the screen.
Indie movie hits, meanwhile, are hardly to be seen. Best of the bunch is Thomas Vinterberg’s The Commune, landing at No 18 with an opening gross of just over £25,000 from 23 cinemas. To be fair, that’s only moderately down on the debut of Vinterberg’s last Danish-language film, The Hunt, which began in 2012 with £40,200 from 27 sites, plus £3,000 in previews. Also flying the flag in the arthouse sector is the rerelease of Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon, with £22,500 from 20 venues, although a significant chunk of that comes from the flagship venue of London’s BFI Southbank. New releases Born to Be Blue and Author: The JT Leroy Story failed to crack the Top 30, while relatively recent releases Chevalier, Summertime and The Neon Demon have already dropped out. Maggie’s Plan, which continues to chug along nicely, is a rare bright spot.
Thanks to the strong performances of Finding Dory, Jason Bourne and The BFG, takings are 34% up on the previous frame and also 66% up on the equivalent weekend from 2015, when Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation knocked Inside Out off the top spot. The market delivered the fifth-highest takings from the past 52 weekends. Cinema bookers hope that the summer bonanza is not over yet, since Friday sees the arrival of Suicide Squad. On the one hand, this DC Comics property doesn’t have the brand value of Batman or Superman. On the other, Warner has seemingly orchestrated a brilliant press and marketing campaign, creating excitement for a bunch of renegade outlaws hitherto little known to broader audiences. And after the success of Fox/Marvel’s Deadpool earlier this year, the pressure is on to deliver big box-office numbers. Other distributors are running scared, although counter-programming alternatives this weekend include the French romantic comedy Up for Love, starring Jean Dujardin, and a rerelease of Alex Cox’s Sid and Nancy, starring Gary Oldman.
Top 10 Films July 29-31
1. Finding Dory, £8,122,075 from 588 sites (new)
2. Jason Bourne, £7,600,420 from 561 sites (new)
3. The BFG, £3,362,699 from 667 sites. Total: £14,478,457
4. Star Trek Beyond, £2,333,079 from 544 sites. Total: £10,220,202
5. The Secret Life of Pets, £730,459 from 477 sites. Total: £30,541,752
6. Ghostbusters, £599,679 from 438 sites. Total: £9,088,751
7. The Legend of Tarzan, £207,931 from 258 sites. Total: £8,825,850
8. Ice Age: Collision Course, £188,057 from 420 sites. Total: £6,063,678
9. Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, £171,587 from 175 sites. Total: £15,297,486
10. Dishoom, £139,534 from 58 sites (new)
Bambukat, £41,029 from eight sites
World Cup ’66 – Minute by Minute, £35,959 from 114 sites
The Commune, £25,134 from 23 sites
Barry Lyndon, £22,524 from 20 sites (rerelease)
The Intent, £10,656 from six sites
Anuraga Karikkin Vellam, £8,619 from 36 sites
League of Gods, £8,349 from 14 sites
Born to Be Blue, £8,012 from four sites
Author: The JT Leroy Story, £7,992 from 11 sites
The Fall, £5,900 from five sites
Traders, £730 from two sites
- Thanks to comScore. All figures relate to takings in UK and Ireland cinemas.
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