Audiences go bananas for James Franco prequel, while The Smurfs hits the jackpot with the kids
When Twentieth Century Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes opened the first weekend of August in the US with $55m (£33.6m), the UK arm of the studio must have felt some pressure. An equivalent result here would be £5.5m – a tall order, you might think, since Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes, although it began life in August 2001 with a remarkable £5.45m, did not bequeath much residual affection for the franchise, and James Franco is not a proven draw in the UK. In fact, Rise delivered a very healthy debut of £5.84m in the UK, albeit boosted by previews totalling £1.1m.
By comparison, Captain America debuted two weekends ago with £2.98m, and X-Men: First Class back in June with £5.44m including previews of £2.01m. Earlier in the summer, Thor kicked off with £5.45m, including previews of £2.34m. Considering Rise’s much more modest previews, it’s well ahead of these pictures.
With £3.78m including relatively hefty previews of £1.47m, The Smurfs makes a confident debut in the UK. The result is reasonably in line with the earlier US opening of $36m, and will satisfy the film’s backers, Sony, especially considering the current crowded market for family films. Mr Popper’s Penguins opened the previous weekend with £1.52m – and even Cars 2, from the mighty Pixar, started its run with a similar £3.54m. Kid pic of the summer is Kung Fu Panda 2, with £16.43m so far. At the start of the year, Disney’s Tangled managed £20.48m.
Releasing a film on more than 200 screens, yet failing to land in the top 10, is never good news. But the distributor of The Devil’s Double will consider itself the victim of a statistical blip. With £319,000 including previews of £89,000, the Iraq-set drama, featuring Dominic Cooper, achieved the highest gross of any film outside the top 10 since March. Still, a screen average of £1,524 isn’t great for a film on its first weekend, and without the benefit of previews that number would have been even lower.
Having taken £66.51m after five weeks of play, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 has now supplanted Philosopher’s Stone as the biggest-grossing Potter flick ever, and making it one of the all-time UK box-office top 5. A few million more will see it overtake both Titanic and Mamma Mia!. Its real target is the second-biggest film of all time, Toy Story 3 (£73.8m). It has virtually no chance of catching Avatar (£94.0m).
Meanwhile Bridesmaids, with a total so far of £22.32m has passed a milestone of its own, beating the lifetime total of The Hangover. Bridesmaids is the seventh-biggest film released in the past 12 months, behind the two Deathly Hallows films, The King’s Speech, Pirates 4, The Hangover Part 2 and Transformers 3. It will end the summer as the season’s fifth-biggest hit – a result that few would have predicted.
The arthouse battle
A number of new arthouse contenders arrived with mixed results. Once again Sarah’s Key proved the top title in this category, unless you count The Devil’s Double. The Kristin Scott Thomas vehicle dipped a relatively gentle 30%, and has now made £278,000 after 10 days of release. Scott Thomas proved a stronger draw than Audrey Tautou, whose Beautiful Lies arrived with £60,300 from 46 screens. Compare this to Sarah’s Key’s opening weekend, when it took £116,000 from 34 sites. Priceless, the previous team-up between Tautou and director Pierre Salvadori, debuted with £125,000 from 61 venues back in 2008.
Landing a couple of places below Beautiful Lies, The Salt of Life – from Mid August Lunch director Gianni Di Gregorio – began with a solid £47,400 from 18 screens. Mid August Lunch kicked off its run two years ago with £22,300 from seven cinemas, going on to a total UK gross of £169,000. Chimpanzee documentary Project Nim, from Man on Wire director James Marsh, benefited from a highly visible profile, partly as a result of being released the same weekend as Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Its debut of £22,900 from 13 screens feels a tad disappointing, especially after the strong performance of documentaries this year, such as Senna (£3.13m so far).
After three weeks in which box-office lagged behind last year’s figures, the market recovers, delivering a weekend that is overall 29% ahead of the 2010 equivalent time frame, when The Last Airbender and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice arrived. Cinemas will now be hoping for a boost from Cowboys & Aliens, starring Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, the last big expensive action flick of the summer. But the Hollywood big guns should be given a run for their money by low-budget British comedy The Inbetweeners Movie, if DVD sales for the TV sitcom are anything to go by. A highly motivated fanbase could deliver a strong opening. Also in the mix is the latest Spy Kids film, presented in “4D”, ie with a scratch-and-sniff Aromascope card; plus dark comedy The Guard, finally arriving on mainland Britain after a triumphant £3m-plus run in Ireland.
Top 10 films
1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes, £5,835,140 from 488 screens (New)
2. The Smurfs, £3,778,085 from 447 screens (New)
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, £1,733,091 from 469 sites. Total: £66,511,926
4. Super 8, £1,154,230 from 497 sites. Total: £5,158,973
5. Mr Popper’s Penguins, £897,336 from 475 sites. Total: £4,200,097
6. Horrible Bosses, £733,309 from 372 sites. Total: £9,238,224
7. Cars 2, £698,863 from 490 sites. Total: £13,105,932
8. Captain America: The First Avenger, £597,916 from 397 sites. Total: £8,629,339
9. Horrid Henry: The Movie, £401,147 from 428 sites. Total: £5,051,494
10. Bridesmaids, £332,171 from 272 sites. Total: £22,318,130
The Devil’s Double, £229,854 from 209 screens (+ £88,658 previews)
Aarakshan, £75,768 from 41 screens
Beautiful Lies, £57,707 from 46 screens (+ £2,610 previews)
The Salt of Life, £45,866 from 18 screens (+ £1,572 previews)
Project Nim, £26,291 from 13 screens
Rowthiram, £9,085 from 11 screens
Elite Squad 2: The Enemy Within, £6,565 from 14 screens
The Interrupters, £2,462 from 4 screens (+£1,975 previews)
The Taqwacores, £856 from 4 screens