Up still soaring, as Michael Jackson's shadow falls over UK box office

The moving 3D adventure turns into one of Pixar's strongest performers, the Saw series shows its first dip, and fans line up for small-hours premieres of This Is It

The winner
Pixar's Up remains super-buoyant at the top of the box office, with yet another slim decline – 26% – and cumulative takings of £19.68m. After 17 days on release, the animation is well ahead of Pixar's previous release WALL-E at the same stage of its run last summer (£13.56m) and modestly ahead of Ratatouille (£17.29m). However, Ratatouille's 17-day figure included the whole October half-term holiday from 2007, whereas that has only just begun for Up. The film should have an especially rich period between now and Sunday. Up has already overtaken the lifetime total of Pixar's worst-performing UK title, Cars (£16.5m), and should soon shoot past Toy Story (£22.3m), WALL-E (£22.9m) and Ratatouille (£24.8m). But it still has a long way to go to challenge Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs' position as 2009's biggest animation: that film, from rival studio Twentieth Century Fox, has been pushed back into cinemas for half-term and has now grossed £34.87m. The rival animation
Offering an alternative to the computer-generated 3D sheen of Up is Wes Anderson's determinedly lo-fi stop-motion animation Fantastic Mr Fox. Debut takings of £1.52m will be seen as not exactly stellar for a family film based on a recognised property (Roald Dahl's 1970 story) – but taking all the factors into account, it's an OK start. In the first place, Anderson has never been mega-box office, and has been on a declining revenue curve since his third movie, 2001's The Royal Tenenbaums: that film, Life Aquatic and Darjeeling Limited opened with £700,000, £455,000 and £435,000, respectively. Secondly, takings for animations outside Disney/Pixar, DreamWorks and Fox's Ice Age stables are hit and miss. Coraline debuted with £2.43m in May; Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs with £1.58m last month; and Tale of Despereaux with £561,000 last December. The first two titles on that list, unlike Fantastic Mr Fox, benefited from the higher ticket prices of 3D. Take your pick as to which is an appropriate comparison. A hit franchise stumbles
"If it's Halloween, it must be Saw" is the message Lionsgate has been successfully pumping out for five years. And in the UK, since peaking with a £2.52m opening for Saw III in 2006, debut grosses for the ingenious torture franchise have been impressively consistent: Saw IV began its life with £2.48m, and Saw V with £2.44m. Now, at last, Saw takes a stumble: the latest installment has opened with £1.74m. The result echoes a similar underperformance in the US, which had been attributed mostly to competition from low-budget horror phenomenon Paranormal Activity. That film doesn't open until 27 November in the UK, so Saw VI's dip here presumably reflects market saturation after pictures on five consecutive Octobers. Saw VII is set to be in 3D; if only Lionsgate had managed to present Saw VI in the popular format, it might have been a whole different story. Arthouse goes AWOL
Last October, foreign-language releases Gomorrah and I've Loved You So Long both played to packed arthouses, while crossover title The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas appealed widely to upscale audiences. Fast forward to October 2009, and there's a dearth of arthouse hits, unless you count The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus or smart comedy Zombieland, which we don't. Top arthouse release is eco-documentary The Cove, which, despite lots of press and favorable reviews, opened at the weekened with a blah £18,000 from 27 screens, for a £665 average. The result goes to show how hard it is these days to get audiences to watch environment-themed documentaries in the cinema, even one that promises thrills and spills. The release this Friday of An Education can't come soon enough for the nation's independent cinemas. The future
Michael Jackson's This Is It is being unveiled to the world at the same time on Tuesday, which is fine if you live in LA (6pm) or New York (9pm), but not so great if you are in London (1am Wednesday morning), Paris (2am) and destinations east. Still, it's all part of the hoopla Sony is building on the concert-rehearsal movie, and Michael Jackson fans should propel it to a stellar debut, especially since Wednesday and Thursday takings will be added in, giving a five-day opening "weekend" result. Advance ticket sales are said to be exceptionally high. After that, it's more about how word of mouth can spread interest beyond the core fanbase. UK top 10
1. Up, 549 sites, £3,807,003. Total: £19,683,204
2. Saw VI, 375 sites, £1,736,287 (New)
3. Fantastic Mr Fox, 481 sites, £1,517,312 (New)
4. Couples Retreat, 379 sites, £932,171. Total: £3,588,820
5. Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, 385 sites, £798,641 (New)
6. The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, 268 sites, £616,719. Total: £2,068,715
7. The Invention of Lying, 307 sites, £362,760. Total: £5,538,932
8. Zombieland, 279 sites, £323,815. Total: £3,001,207
9. Fame, 373 sites, £218,110. Total: £8,311,403
10. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 369 sites, £142,011. Total: £5,881,661

How the other openers did
The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard, 100 screens, £36,360
The Cove, 27 screens, £17,956
Johnny Mad Dog, 2 screens, £6,439 + £3,279 previews
Made in Jamaica, 2 screens, £2,345
Coffin Rock, 2 screens, £184
Colin, 3 screens, no figures available


Charles Gant

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Victor Frankenstein dead on arrival at UK box office
Daniel Radcliffe can’t bring life to the horror reboot as it takes a mere £375,000 at cinemas, while festive offering Christmas With the Coopers comes in at fifth place

Charles Gant

08, Dec, 2015 @4:08 PM

Article image
Toy Story 3 closes in on Lord of the Rings films in UK rankings

Charles Gant: Though unlikely to overtake Avatar as number one in the all-time UK box-office rankings, Pixar's animated film is expected to make an assault on second place in the next few weeks

Charles Gant

17, Aug, 2010 @10:27 AM

Article image
Toy Story 3 set to become UK's biggest animated movie ever | Charles Gant
Charles Gant: Pixar hit benefits from school holidays to break records while Karate Kid beats A-Team in retro face-off

Charles Gant

03, Aug, 2010 @10:53 AM

Article image
Toy Story 3 seizes UK animation crown back from DreamWorks

Charles Gant: Pixar's latest film overtakes Shrek 2 to become biggest-ever animated film in UK and continues climb up all-time UK box office pantheon

Charles Gant

10, Aug, 2010 @11:11 AM

Article image
Disney's gloriously ghoulish Coco charms UK box office
The distributor gets its biggest UK opening for an animation since Finding Dory, while war drama Darkest Hour marches on and The Post aims to make news

Charles Gant

23, Jan, 2018 @12:35 PM

Article image
The Meg takes giant bite of UK box office
Jason Statham’s prehistoric shark makes waves with summer cinemagoers, while Mamma Mia! 2 is still packing them in

Charles Gant

15, Aug, 2018 @10:00 AM

Article image
UK box office still in love with Oscars darling La La Land
Damien Chazelle’s musical paean to Hollywood outshines James McAvoy in Split and Vin Diesel’s return as action hero Xander Cage

Charles Gant

24, Jan, 2017 @5:21 PM

Article image
Things are looking Up for Pixar at US box office

Jeremy Kay: Despite some cavils about its commercial prospects, the animated feature has scored the third biggest launch in Pixar history and looks set to cruise past $100m by this time next week

Jeremy Kay

01, Jun, 2009 @11:32 AM

Article image
Film trailer for Pixar's Up

An elderly man tethers thousands of helium balloons to his home and lifts off on a long-anticipated journey to South America

13, May, 2009 @8:07 AM

Article image
Cannes film festival has liftoff with Pixar's Up
Pixar's latest animation combines hi-tech digital wizardry with old-fashioned solid storytelling to get the 62nd Cannes film festival off to a tremendous start

Peter Bradshaw at the Cannes film festival

13, May, 2009 @12:31 PM