Arrival lands in top spot at UK box office, but no space for American Pastoral

Arrival Still

Arrival was the only film released at the weekend in more than 100 prints, and it enjoyed plenty of attention from cinemagoers, pushing Doctor Strange off the top spot.

The winner: Arrival

Opening at 561 cinemas, the brainy sci-fi took £2.57m, with Thursday takings pushing the total to £2.92m. The JK Rowling-created Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them arrives this week, which explains why Arrival was given such a clear field – distributors in general were reluctant to release a film and then have it clobbered after seven days.

Arrival represents the biggest opening for a film directed by Quebec-born Denis Villeneuve. In October 2015, Sicario began with £1.60m, including £220,000 in previews. Two years earlier, Prisoners, starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, kicked off with £1.37m, including £38,000 in previews. Arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, is hardly more star-driven than either of Villeneuve’s previous efforts, which suggests cinemagoers are responding to the genre, an appealing premise and the overall buzz.

The chasing pack

Family animations Trolls and Storks posted strong holds, dipping by just 9% and 7% from the previous session, while Nocturnal Animals fell a slim 12%. This means that Amy Adams is enjoying two sizable, awards-buzz titles, which are both straddling multiplexes and indie cinemas. Nocturnal Animals is doing especially well in the latter, with second-weekend takings of £617,000 taking the tally for Tom Ford’s film to a solid £1.85m.

Both Doctor Strange (£19.6m so far) and Trolls (£19.3m) are poised to pass £20m, when they will become the 14th and 15th films this year to do so, joining The Revenant, Deadpool, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zootropolis, The Jungle Book, Captain America: Civil War, The Secret Life of Pets, The BFG, Finding Dory, Jason Bourne, Suicide Squad, Bridget Jones’s Baby and The Girl on the Train. In 2015, 15 films took £20m-plus at the box office. This year, there will certainly be more: Fantastic Beasts and Rogue One will do so, for sure, while Disney Animation and Sony will be pinning their hopes on Moana and Passengers.

A Street Cat Named Bob is another title experiencing a very small decline – down just 12% from its opening session. The adaptation of James Bowen’s memoir has reached £2.61m after 10 days.

The disappointment: American Pastoral

Landing in 19th place, Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut American Pastoral makes an inauspicious start to its UK run, with £57,000 from 82 cinemas. Film-makers have been trying to adapt Philip Roth’s novels since 1969’s attempt at Goodbye, Columbus (published in 1959), with variable results. One notable effort was Robert Benton’s crack at The Human Stain (2003), which starred Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman. It began with £74,000 from 94 cinemas on its way to a mediocre total of £163,000.

American Pastoral faces what seems to be the cold shoulder from bookers at leading indie cinemas. A few Everyman sites played it at the weekend, as did Edinburgh Filmhouse (where McGregor is a local hero), but the Curzon and Picturehouse chains didn’t have it, nor did independent venues such as Home Manchester, Watershed Bristol, Showroom Sheffield, Tyneside Cinema, Broadway Nottingham and – surprisingly – Glasgow Film Theatre. American Pastoral has an IMDb user rating of 6.2/10 and a discouraging Metacritic score of 43/100.

Yet another adaptation of a Roth novel, Indignation, arrives this Friday. This is the feature directing debut of triple Oscar-nominated producer James Schamus (Brokeback Mountain), and stars Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon.

The big faller: The Light Between Oceans

Dropping by 50% from its opening frame, The Light Between Oceans fell harder than any other film in the Top 10. Distributor eOne managed to retain 430 cinemas for the second session (down from 438 the week before), but will doubtless have lost out on showtimes, or seen the film shoved into smaller-capacity screens. A weekend gross of £226,000 yielded a site average of £526 – lower than any other film in the Top 10. Look for The Light Between Oceans to reduce its footprint in UK cinemas from this Friday.

The future

Despite the paucity of commercially potent new releases, takings overall fell only 7% from the previous frame. Compared with the equivalent weekend from 2015, when Spectre stayed at the top spot for a third week and The Lady in the Van was the top new release, the market is off by 23%. After this relatively quiet patch, cinema owners are braced for a bonanza with the arrival of Fantastic Beasts. Few are expecting numbers quite at Harry Potter levels, but there hasn’t been a film from Rowling’s magical universe for more than five years, so there is ample pent-up demand.

Predictably, everyone else is running scared of the date, and there are no other wide releases. As well as Indignation trying its luck at arthouse cinemas, also in the mix are Jim Jarmusch’s Iggy Pop documentary Gimme Danger; a rerelease of Norman Jewison’s quintuple Oscar winner In the Heat of the Night (1967); Paul Schrader’s Nicolas Cage actioner Dog Eat Dog; and Japanese anime Your Name.

In the event cinema genre, Alan Bennett’s Diaries Live is simulcast to cinemas on 16 November. André Rieu: Christmas with André, the latest from the massively popular Dutch violinist and conductor, is a recorded festive concert playing in cinemas on 19 November.

Top 10 films, 11-13 November

1. Arrival, £2,924,059 from 561 sites (new)

2. Doctor Strange, £2,357,258 from 564 sites. Total: £19,596,167

3. Trolls, £1,820,578 from 588 sites. Total: £19,327,276

4. The Accountant, £1,020,899 from 516 sites. Total: £3,622,284

5. A Street Cat Named Bob, £864,654 from 483 sites. Total: £2,609,103

6. Nocturnal Animals, £617,071 from 356 sites. Total: £1,848,931

7. The Girl on the Train, £477,110 from 408 sites. Total: £22,897,010

8. Storks, £343,898 from 520 sites. Total: £6,249,343

9. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, £332,422 from 376 sites. Total: £7,627,482

10. The Light Between Oceans, £226,094 from 430 sites. Total: £1,385,571

Other openers

Chaar Sahibzaade: Rise of Banda Singh Bahadur, £132,852 from 53 sites

American Pastoral, £56,832 from 82 sites

Rock On 2, £27,020 from 46 sites

The Innocents, £24,133 from 21 sites

Napoleon, £20,320 from 25 sites (rerelease)

Lahore Se Aagey, £16,651 from 25 sites

Kobiety Bez Wstydu, £12,879 from 40 sites

Francofonia, £8,785 from four sites

Moscow Never Sleeps, £5,549 from seven sites

Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada, £3,838 from eight sites

Hacienda Classical: The Classical Rave, £1,068 from 12 sites

100 Streets, £245 from one site

• Thanks to comScore. All figures relate to takings in UK and Ireland cinemas.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Charles Gant, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 15th November 2016 16.42 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010