The winner: The Hitman’s Bodyguard
Knocking Dunkirk off the top spot of the official comScore UK box office chart, The Hitman’s Bodyguard opens with £1.98m from 467 cinemas, including preview takings of £367,000. While 2017 has been light on action comedy hits for adult audiences, the Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L Jackson team-up, rated 15 for language and bloody violence, filled a gap in the market.
Taking the shine off the success, however, is the fact that only the film’s Thursday previews propelled the film to the top spot. For the Friday-to-Sunday period, Dunkirk actually beat it. And even adding the previews in, £1.98m is a weak total for a No 1 film. Only twice so far this year has a film topped the UK chart with a smaller box office number.
The real winner: Dunkirk
Only those Hitman’s Bodyguard previews prevented Dunkirk from achieving a fifth straight week at the top spot. The Christopher Nolan film took £1.94m at the weekend, pushing the 31-day total to £49.1m. That’s ahead of Christopher Nolan’s former second-biggest UK hit, The Dark Knight (£48.9m). Dunkirk has every chance of catching the director’s top film, The Dark Knight Rises (£56.3m). These comparisons are not adjusted for inflation.
The flop: The Dark Tower
At the start of the decade, Universal Pictures was developing an ambitious Ron Howard-directed adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower book series, which would see three feature films alternate with two TV series. Then in July 2011, the studio pulled the plug over budgetary concerns. In the event, the project was reconceived as a Sony-financed single film – albeit as the first in a hoped-for franchise – with Denmark’s Nikolaj Arcel directing.
Going by the US box office for The Dark Tower ($42m after three weeks), Universal has had a lucky escape – although who knows if Howard could have achieved a better creative outcome. In the UK, the film lands in fifth place with a poor £911,000 from 530 cinemas, and a site average of £1,718. Look for a relatively speedy exit for the critically mauled actioner.
Anyone following current box office trends might imagine the cinema industry to be in crisis. But while the US is clearly having a wretched summer, the picture is more complex globally. UK admissions figures are now in for July, and they show a very healthy 17.80m tickets sold, which is 7.3% up on July 2016, and the best July total since 2011, which saw the release of the final Harry Potter movie. For the first seven months of the year, admissions are 6.6% up on the same period in 2016, buoyed by successes including Beauty and the Beast and Dunkirk. August, which was strong in 2016, looks set to be a calamitously different story this time, but cinemas are having a good year in the UK overall.
A couple of films have achieved notable box office milestones in the past week. Cars 3, now in its sixth week of play, has crawled past £10m (it’s at £10.3m). While the film still has some way to go to catch Pixar’s current worst performer at UK cinemas (The Good Dinosaur, £15.2m), Disney has at least been spared the humiliation of a final number in single-digit millions. Meanwhile, War for the Planet of the Apes, also in its sixth week of release, has passed £20m. The film’s slow progress must be a head-scratcher for distributor Fox, since this is a well-loved franchise, and predecessor Dawn of the Planet of the Apes grossed £32.9m. War for… was well-reviewed, with an 82/100 score at MetaCritic. Its UK release just a week before Dunkirk may have been a misstep, with audiences instead choosing to hold out for the Nolan film.
Thanks to the lack of major new releases, box office takings are 8% down on the previous session, and also 26% down on the equivalent weekend from 2016, when Finding Dory and Suicide Squad continued their strong run at the top of the UK chart. Overall, the weekend delivered the ninth weakest takings of any session from the past year. Cinema bookers are hoping that this week’s new releases – including American Made, Detroit and Logan Lucky – can bring some fresh life into the market for the bank holiday weekend.
Top 10 films 18-20 August
1. The Hitman’s Bodyguard, £1,982,951 from 467 sites (new)
2. Dunkirk, £1,938,125 from 647 sites. Total: £49,101,623 (5 weeks)
3. Annabelle: Creation, £1,193,210 from 492 sites. Total: £4,754,102 (2 weeks)
4. The Emoji Movie, £1,028,182 from 605 sites. Total: £8,644,036 (3 weeks)
5. The Dark Tower, £910,529 from 530 sites (new)
6. Despicable Me 3, £633,634 from 563 sites. Total: £43,212,759 (8 weeks)
7. Girls Trip, £592,674 from 356 sites. Total: £6,840,243 (4 weeks)
8. Atomic Blonde, £500,923 from 570 sites. Total: £3,063,918 (2 weeks)
9. Everything Everything, £453,401 from 357 sites (new)
10. Spider-Man: Homecoming, £368,723 from 341 sites. Total: £29,144,158 (7 weeks)
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, £201,130 (including £153,603 previews) from 99 sites
Final Portrait, £81,017 from 59 sites
Bareilly Ki Barfi, £51,847 from 32 sitesT
The Odyssey, £40,433 from 49 sites
Napping Princess, £34,003 from 8 sites
The Untamed, £10,718 from 5 sites
Once Upon a Time, £10,667 from13 sites
Rocky Mental, £5,516 from 6 sites
Quest, £1,721 from 7 sites
Kuldip Patwal: I Didn’t Do It!, £752 from 7 sites
Dark Night, £282 from 1 site
Thanks to comScore. All figures relate to takings in UK and Ireland cinemas.