The weekend after Doctor Strange, and two weeks before Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the release calendar paused for breath.
The winner: The Accountant
But, despite the lack of any blockbusters, four movies with individual commercial appeal arrived: The Accountant, starring Ben Affleck; bestseller adaptation A Street Cat Named Bob; period romance The Light Between Oceans, with Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander; and Tom Ford’s starry awards contender Nocturnal Animals.
Of these, The Accountant delivered a solid £1.62m from 496 cinemas, including £115,000 in previews. Appropriate comparisons on Affleck’s CV are not obvious, but his own sophomore directing effort The Town might serve best. That 2010 heist thriller began with just over £1m from 321 venues – a similar result, if ticket price inflation is factored in.
All films faced the challenge of Bonfire night falling on a Saturday – usually the busiest day of the week for cinemas.
The Brit flick: A Street Cat Named Bob
A Street Cat Named Bob, adapted from James Bowen’s bestselling memoir, has begun with a decent £986,000 from 440 sites. That’s by far the biggest debut number for a film featuring Luke Treadaway in a lead role, although even his agent would probably concede that it’s the cat that is providing the film’s chief selling point. Treadaway plays Bowen, a former homeless heroin addict who turned his life around after meeting Bob, incorporating him into his work as a busker and Big Issue seller.
Still in the top spot, Doctor Strange took £3.45m at the weekend, boosting the 12-day total to a sturdy £15.73m. Trolls remains in second place, and has now reached £17.19m.
The crossover battle: Nocturnal Animals v The Light Between Oceans
Two films this week effectively straddled the indie-mainstream space. Derek Cianfrance’s The Light Between Oceans stole a march on its competitor by hitting cinemas on Tuesday, racking up three days of previews before facing competition from Nocturnal Animals. Distributor eOne’s strategy was the wise course: the adaptation of ML Stedman’s novel achieved a handy £280,000 before Nocturnal Animals arrived and boosted the film to a six-day debut of £733,000 from 438 cinemas.
A cast led by Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal helped power Tom Ford’s film to an impressive £755,000 from 242 venues, including modest previews of £54,000. Strip out the previews, and Nocturnal Animals achieved a site average of £2,899, which compares well with £1,034 for The Light Between Oceans.
Ford’s previous feature, A Single Man, began in February 2010 with £502,000 from 79 cinemas, on its way to £3.24m. Universal has pushed Nocturnal Animals significantly wider, and should reach a bigger eventual total.
As for Cianfrance, his previous film, The Place Beyond the Pines, began in April 2013 with £671,000 from 114 sites, ending up with £3.43m. That final total is likely to elude him this time around.
I, Daniel Blake cracks £2m
Ken Loach’s I, Daniel Blake performed solidly in its third week of release. The campaigning drama expanded from 211 to 273 cinemas, and achieved some great results at many of its new venues at the weekend, including Edinburgh Filmhouse, Birmingham MAC and Hebden Bridge Picture House.
The £2.07m total so far pushes it past the lifetime of The Angels’ Share (£1.98m), thus becoming Loach’s second biggest hit at the UK and Ireland box office. It still has a fair way to go to catch 2006’s The Wind That Shakes the Barley, which made a lifetime £3.91m.
While I, Daniel Blake remains buoyant, Andrea Arnold’s American Honey – which competed with Loach’s film for the Palme d’Or at Cannes in May and was released in the UK one week before it – continues to plummet. Arnold’s first US-set film, which benefits from Shia LaBeouf in the cast, has grossed £412,000 so far, and looks certain to fall short of the director’s earlier Fish Tank (£599,000) and Wuthering Heights (£612,000). The epic duration of American Honey – 2 hours, 43 minutes – could be a factor in the film’s commercial disappointment, especially since cinemas have struggled to offer two evening showtimes without the first one beginning inconveniently early and the second ending inconveniently late.
Takings are 35% down on the previous frame, and also 31% down on the equivalent weekend in 2015, when Spectre remained strong in its second week of play. While cinema bookers have their hopes pinned on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, arriving November 18, there’s one more frame to get through before that expected cash bonanza. This Thursday sees the release of alien-invasion drama Arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. The following day it’s joined by American Pastoral, debut director Ewan McGregor’s adaptation of the Philip Roth novel, starring himself, Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning. Alternatives include London drama 100 Streets, featuring Idris Elba and Gemma Arterton in an ensemble cast.
Top 10 films, 4-6 November
1. Doctor Strange, £3,445,203 from 599 sites. Total: £15,730,195
2. Trolls, £1,990,129 from 592 sites. Total: £17,192,724
3. The Accountant, £1,623,866 from 496 sites (new)
4. A Street Cat Named Bob, £985,557 from 440 sites (new)
5. Nocturnal Animals, £755,427 from 242 sites (new)
6. The Light Between Oceans, £733,421 from 438 sites (new)
7. The Girl on the Train, £624,453 from 466 sites. Total: £21,965,662
8. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, £575,043 from 459 sites. Total: £6,959,837
9. Storks, £366,888 from 523 sites. Total: £5,871,165
10. Bridget Jones’s Baby, £330,017 from 339 sites. Total: £47,072,016
Pulimurugan, £92,030 from 73 sites
Bolshoi Ballet: The Bright Stream, £57,358 from 166 sites
Ostatnia rodzina, £21,017 from 20 sites
Eksi Elmalar, £7,101 from three sites
You’ve Been Trumped Too, £5,284 from 10 sites
Richard Linklater – Dream Is Destiny, £3,707 from four sites
Someone to Talk To, £1,272 from 10 sites
Girls Lost, £984 from one site
The Darkest Universe, £904 from one site
Rupture, £795 from three sites
The White Knights, £658 from two sites
The Ivory Game, £84 from one site
• Thanks to comScore. All figures relate to takings in UK and Ireland cinemas.
This article was written by Charles Gant, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 8th November 2016 16.47 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010