Fantastic Beasts still No 1 in UK as A United Kingdom and Allied start strong

JK Rowling’s wizarding adventure is still topping the charts, with Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard managing to nab second place despite making just 15% of Beasts’s total

The winner: JK Rowling

With £30.14m in 10 days, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has become the quickest film to reach £30m at the UK and Ireland box office since Star Wars: The Force Awakens last December. The JK Rowling-scripted film grossed £8.89m at the weekend, a decline of 42% on the opening frame. For comparison, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Captain America: Civil War – which are the other two films this year that came particularly fast out of the gate – fell respectively by 68% and 67% in their second sessions. Deadpool was sturdier, with a 43% drop on its second weekend.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the tenth release this year to crack £30m – after Bridget Jones’s Baby (£47.8m), The Jungle Book (£46.2m), Finding Dory (£42.8m), Deadpool (£37.9m), Captain America: Civil War (£36.9m), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (£36.6m), The Secret Life of Pets (£35.9m), Suicide Squad (£33.6m) and The BFG (£30.6m). In addition, 2015 release Star Wars: The Force Awakens grossed £35.9m in calendar year 2016, so that would be an eleventh.

The question now is whether Fantastic Beasts will burn through its audience and fall short of the year’s biggest hits, or sustain nicely through until Christmas. Based on the performance of Harry Potter films as well as a 7.9/10 user rating for Fantastic Beasts at IMDb, you’d suspect the latter. Competition for the family end of the audience arrives on Friday with Disney Animation’s Moana, which opened in the US at the extended Thanksgiving weekend with a muscular $81m. Rogue One follows on 16 December.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – video trailer

The runner-up: Brad Pitt

With a debut of £1.30m (plus £33,000 previews), Robert Zemeckis’s second world war spy romance Allied grossed just 15% of the Fantastic Beasts number at the weekend, but that was still enough to land in second place, given weak competition from other titles in the marketplace (everything else earned less than £1m in ticket sales at the weekend).

Marion Cotillard on starring with Brad Pitt in Allied: ‘Chemistry creates itself’ – video interview

This is the third film for Brad Pitt set during the second world war, following Inglourious Basterds and Fury. Neither are particularly apt comparisons for Allied, but for the record those two films opened respectively with £1.9m (plus £1.69m previews) and £2m (plus £698,000 in previews).

Pitt had a supporting role in The Big Short in January. His previous lead was in romantic drama By the Sea, co-starring and directed by Angelina Jolie. That creative and commercial misfire grossed a dismal £46,000 in its entire UK theatrical run last December.

The indie battle: Paterson v A United Kingdom

Two new releases targeted the indie market: Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson and Amma Asante’s A United Kingdom. The latter was positioned much broader, with a release by Pathe/Fox into 419 cinemas, including a wide swath of upscale multiplex sites. Soda put Paterson into a more targeted 62 venues, mixing boutique chains (Picturehouse, Curzon, Everyman) and selected plex venues with key independents.

Watch the trailer for Paterson – video

Given its wider release, A United Kingdom unsurprisingly achieved the bigger box office: £619,000 (including £54,000 previews), compared to £170,000 (including £42,000 previews) for Paterson. Stripping out previews, site averages are £1,345 and £2,103 respectively.

Director Asante has achieved her biggest ever opening gross. Her previous film Belle began in June 2014 with £407,000 from 408 cinemas, including negligible previews of £4,000. That film went on to a UK lifetime total of £1.95m.

Jarmusch has enjoyed rather patchy commercial success at the UK box office. His previous fiction feature Only Lovers Left Alive began with £124,000 from 68 cinemas on its way to a lifetime of £315,000. Arguably, the earlier film, with a cast including Tom Hiddleston as a vampire rock star, appeared to be a more commercial prospect than Paterson, with Adam Driver as a New Jersey bus-driving poet, so Soda should be happy with the outcome. Jarmusch’s biggest hit in the UK remains 2005’s Broken Flowers, with £1.94m. The director is also currently in cinemas with Iggy Pop documentary Gimme Danger, which has reached £53,000 so far.

Mum’s List struggles to make an impact

The challenges of releasing what might best be described as a small mainstream film are confirmed once again with the release of Mum’s List, starring Rafe Spall and Emilia Fox. The film is adapted from the memoir by St John (aka “Singe”) Greene, celebrating the legacy left by his wife Kate, who died of breast cancer in 2010. Not a natural fit for independent cinemas, the film recounts Singe and Kate’s early courtship, life raising two young sons, her battle with cancer, and how Singe coped as a widower and single parent, honouring the titular list of instructions, wishes and thoughts left by his wife. But to succeed in multiplexes, a film needs a highly visible – and likely expensive – marketing campaign. Case in point, the recent A Street Cat Named Bob, which Sony has pushed, via bus sides and television, to £3.91m so far.

Watch the trailer for Mum’s List – video

Mum’s List has opened with a poor £25,600 from 110 sites, yielding a location average of £233. The film will probably find a happier home on DVD – it should be on sale just before Mother’s Day next year – and on television.

The highest climber: Your Name

Surging from 29th position to 15th in the box-office chart, Your Name saw grosses nearly quadruple from the previous session. The Japanese anime began in a rather low-key way, exclusively at 17 Showcase cinemas. Then it expanded for one night only last Thursday into more than 100 venues, before contracting again at the weekend to 23 sites. Weekend gross was a solid £66,000, yielding a location average of £2,990. Cumulative total to date is £204,000.

André Rieu breaks concert record

Encore showings of André Rieu: Christmas with André 2016 played on Sunday, grossing a handy £304,000. That takes the total for the event to £1.53m, beating the previous record holder for a concert in cinemas, which was set earlier this year by the Dutch violinist’s summer Maastricht concert (£1.45m). More cinemas are set to encore the event before Christmas, and distributor CinemaLive is looking for a final tally around £1.6m.

The future

Watch the trailer for The Edge of Seventeen – video

Given the lack of major new releases, it’s no surprise to see the overall market contract – by 32%, in fact – from the previous session. However, box office is down just 1% on the equivalent weekend from 2015, when The Good Dinosaur, Bridge of Spies and Black Mass were the top new releases. Cinema bookers will be looking for a big improvement this coming weekend with the arrival of Disney Animation’s Moana, plus Clint Eastwood directing Tom Hanks in Sully, well-regarded teen flick The Edge of Seventeen, and Miles Teller in boxing drama Bleed for This. Alternatives include Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, the Dardenne brothers’ The Unknown Girl and a rerelease of festive animation The Nightmare Before Christmas. Targeting the UK’s large Polish population is Pitbull: Tough Women, the sequel to Pitbull: New Orders, which grossed more than £500,000 in UK cinemas earlier this year. The film opens in more than 100 Odeon venues, and has already achieved more than £100,000 in advance ticket sales, reports distributor Phoenix.

Top 10 films, 25-27 November

Watch the trailer for Dear Zindagi – video

1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, £8,892,489 from 666 sites. Total: £30,136,276

2. Allied, £1,331,919 from 501 sites (new)

3. Trolls, £834,362 from 552 sites. Total: £21,798,376

4. Bad Santa 2, £799,156 from 423 sites (new)

5. Arrival, £778,449 from 487 sites. Total: £7,334,028

6. A United Kingdom, £618,652 from 420 sites (new)

7. Doctor Strange, £454,088 from 417 sites. Total: £22,281,264

8. André Rieu: Christmas with André, £303,520 from 313 sites. Total: £1,532,269

9. Dear Zindagi, £171,497 from 64 sites (new)

10. Paterson, £169,911 from 61 sites (new)

Other openers

Almost Christmas, £60,991 from 121 sites

Mum’s List, £25,616 from 110 sites

Dobara Phir Se, £13,477 from 26 sites

The Unmarried Wife, £13,242 from three sites

Ikinci Sans, £5,347 from three sites

Kavalai Vendam, £5,192 from 15 sites

Creepy, £2,756 from four sites

Thoppil Joppan, £1,990 from two sites

The Wailing, £1,613 from eight sites

Magnus, £899 from four sites

Szkola Uwodzenia Czeslawa M, £760 from seven sites

South, £508 from five sites

Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned, £325 from one site

The Incident, £152 from one site

Aanandam, £129 from one site

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


Charles Gant

The GuardianTramp

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