The Grinch steals ahead of Bohemian Rhapsody at UK box office

Festive season hits the multiplexes as the animated grump climbs ahead of rockers, soldiers and Widows

The winner: The Grinch

Knocking Bohemian Rhapsody off the top of the UK box office after its two-week reign is The Grinch, the latest from Despicable Me animation house Illumination Entertainment. The Dr Seuss adaption begins with a solid if unspectacular £5.02m. In the US it performed better, with a $67.6m (£52.3) debut.

Dr Seuss has never been as popular outside the US as within it, and The Grinch is especially beloved in America – many grew up watching the 1966 animated short How the Grinch Stole Christmas on television every festive season. The 2000 live-action film starring Jim Carrey grossed $260m in North America and $85m from the rest of the world. The UK total for the film (released as The Grinch) was £15.2m – just over half the box office you might expect going purely by the American number.

As for the release date, family films during the festive season tend to release early, gain a foothold and then play steadily all the way until Christmas. The Grinch’s opening number compares with a debut of £6.29m and £10.5m including previews for Illumination’s Sing in late January 2017 – but The Grinch surely has a whole load of riches ahead of it in December, so Universal won’t be sweating just yet.

The runner-up: Bohemian Rhapsody

Despite losing its position at the top of the UK chart, Bohemian Rhapsody came in a close second with third-weekend takings of £4.56m. After 19 days, the Queen biopic has clocked up a mighty impressive £28.9m. Only three films this year have grossed a bigger number in their third session than Bohemian Rhapsody did: Peter Rabbit, Avengers: Infinity War and Incredibles 2. Even Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again failed to match Bohemian Rhapsody’s third-weekend takings of £4.56m. The Abba musical remained in the UK top five for eight straight weeks – the kind of success Bohemian Rhapsody will need to achieve if it is to reach box-office heights. So far, it’s the ninth biggest hit of 2018.

The auteur contender: Widows

Landing in a creditable third place is Widows, Steve McQueen’s reinvention of the 1980s Lynda La Plante crime TV series of the same name. Widows has begun with £1.65m from 570 cinemas, and £2.41m including previews. That’s below the debut of McQueen’s Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave in January 2014. On that occasion, his film went out into a relatively tight 207 cinemas, grossing £2.51m including negligible previews. 12 Years a Slave kept expanding, reaching its widest point in week five of release, and achieved a £20m UK total. Awards attention could see a sustained run for Widows, but the thriller is unlikely to achieve 12 Years a Slave’s nine Oscar nominations and three wins.

The reprise: They Shall Not Grow Old

Arriving in 11th place in the chart with £271,000 from 378 cinemas is They Shall Not Grow Old, a film commemorating 100 years since the end of the first world war. The title’s status as a new entry is confusing for those who recall that the Peter Jackson film already had a run in UK cinemas, courtesy of distributor Trafalgar, grossing over £860,000 since October 12. The new release, which comes with a Peter Jackson Q&A, is courtesy of Warner Bros. The film aired on BBC Two on Sunday night, Armistice Day, and is now playing theatrically on significantly reduced showtimes.

Restoration job … They Shall Not Grow Old.
Restoration job … They Shall Not Grow Old. Photograph: BBC/Wingnut Films/IWM

The market

The second weekend of November didn’t quite match the equivalent session from 2017, which benefited from the arrival of Paddington 2. Box office is 8% down on that weekend a year ago. Cinema operators now have a lot of hopes pinned on one new release in particular this coming weekend, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The original Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them grossed a mighty £54.7m two years ago, and stakeholders in this five-picture franchise will be hoping for a similar number this time.

Also in the mix: Luca Guadagnino’s remake of Dario Argento’s Suspiria. Distributor Trafalgar has high hopes for two music events this week: Coldplay A Head Full of Dreams, which plays tomorrow (November 14) in 321 UK cinemas and more than 2,650 worldwide; and especially Burn the Stage: The Movie, featuring K-pop phenomenon BTS, which is the day after and playing in 656 UK cinemas and more than 6,850 worldwide.

Top 10 films 9-11 November

1. The Grinch, £5,019,677 from 559 cinemas (new)
2. Bohemian Rhapsody, £4,559,647 from 682 sites. Total: £28,907,411 (three weeks)
3. Widows, £2,409,112 from 570 sites (new)
4. A Star Is Born, £1,248,295 from 550 sites. Total: £25,464,451 (six weeks)
5. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, £1,115,243 from 579 sites. Total: £3,414,557 (two weeks)
6. Overlord, £677,844 from 421 sites (new)
7. Thugs of Hindostan, £497,663 from 175 sites (new)
8. Johnny English Strikes Again, £477,937 from 463 sites. Total: £17,081,899 (six weeks)
9. Sarkar, £387,417 from 55 sites (new)
10. Smallfoot, £360,893 from 533 sites. Total: £10,649,144 (five weeks)

Other openers

They Shall Not Grow Old, £271,302 from 378 sites
Squadron 303, £120,640 from 90 sites
La Sylphide – Bolshoi Ballet, £100,005 from 154 sites
Marnie – Met Opera, £82,109 from 191 sites
Wildlife, £67,968 from 59 sites
Exhibition on Screen: Degas Passion for Perfection, £50,085 from 8 sites (including £46,025 previews)
Bros: After the Screaming Stops, £13,428 from 26 sites
Kin, £1,526 from 21 sites
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, £908 from 11 sites

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


Charles Gant

The GuardianTramp

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