Toy Story 3 seizes UK animation crown back from DreamWorks

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

The winner

After just three weeks on release, and with £51.52m in takings, Toy Story 3 is now the biggest animated film of all time at the UK box-office, overtaking previous title holder Shrek 2 (£48.24m). But Pixar's latest film achieved this record so speedily, there was scant drama in the success. Ever since Toy Story 3 opened with £21.19m in its first seven days, Shrek 2's hold on the summit of the all-time animated chart has looked distinctly doomed. The question now is how far TS3 can go.

Shrek 2 had held the animated UK box-office crown since 2004. Now that Disney/Pixar have seized it back from rival DreamWorks Animation, the latter studio may wait a while to regain it, especially since no new Shrek movies are planned. The top gross for a non-Shrek DreamWorks animation is Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, with £23.38m lifetime.

Toy Story 3 is one of only 15 films ever to gross £50m in the UK, and it's done it in 21 days. It now stands in 12th place in the all-time UK box-office pantheon, just behind The Full Monty (£52.2m) and the second Pirates of the Caribbean flick, Dead Man's Chest (£52.5m).

Compared to other titles at the third-weekend stage of release, it's the leader by a considerable distance. The previous biggest grosser after three weekends was the third Lord of the Rings picture, Return of the King, with £41.8m. Toy Story 3 is nearly £10m ahead, albeit boosted by extensive previews on its opening weekend. Other big earners after three weekends are the sixth Harry Potter, Half-Blood Prince (£40.5m) and Bond's last outing Quantum of Solace (£40.3m).

The 6-8 August weekend saw Toy Story 3 experience its biggest drop to date, with a 43% fall from the previous frame. Since the box-office decline on 3D screens was 48% and on 2D screens only 28% it's hard not to attribute the fall to the fresh competition for playdates and showtimes at the nation's 3D venues. Previously Toy Story 3 had faced only a declining Shrek Forever After in 3D screens, but the weekend saw the arrival of both Step Up 3D and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore. Despite the steadily growing number of 3D screens in the UK, there are not enough to properly accommodate three major 3D movies at the same time. If Toy Story 3 ends up grossing a number closer to £60m than £70m, Disney will be regretting that the major chains didn't convert to digital (and thus to 3D) quicker.

The surprise

Lambasted by many critics, and hampered by perceptions of box-office disappointment in the US, Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz vehicle Knight and Day has performed beyond expectations with a £2.40m opening in the UK, the top new release. While by no means at the top end for a Cruise film, it's a creditable result for Twentieth Century Fox, serving an adult date market that either has seen Inception already or considered it too challenging.

Knight and Day opened nearly £400,000 ahead of Step Up 3D, which picked up £2.02m in its opening frame. The figure is slightly disappointing when you compare it to the franchise's previous film Step Up 2 the Streets' £2.36m debut back in March 2008 – especially when you consider the price premium on 3D tickets for the new picture. Again, it's hard not to imagine that Step Up 3D would have done better had it not faced competition with Toy Story 3 for access to 3D screens.

Earlier this year, homegrown hit StreetDance 3D overtook Step Up 2 the Streets to become the biggest ever dance movie at the UK box-office, with takings of £11.6m. Universal had every reason to hope that its new 3D Step Up movie would retake the all-time dance crown, but that is looking less likely at this point.

The magnificent seven

Call it a triumph of marketing, a temporary phenomenon caused by a post-World Cup glut of blockbuster-size offerings or – more straightforwardly – a case of Hollywood offering the public a well-balanced and appealing mix of product. Whichever way you look at it, it's the case that as many as seven films this weekend grossed £1m-plus, for the first time since February 2009. (Small caveat: one of those films, Cats & Dogs 2, achieved its seven-figure total with the help of previews, although that's also true of one of the seven £1m-grossers 18 months ago.)

The weekend's seven big earners contributed to one of the most lop-sided top 15s in UK box-office history. Only two films in the chart achieved a gross in six figures (ie between £100,000 and £1m), with the bottom six each earning less than £100,000.

The famous five

Leaving aside Bollywood title Aisha (based on Jane Austen's Emma), the top five foreign-language films currently on release are all French. Top two are dueling celebrity biographies Gainsbourg and Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, with Heartbreaker, The Concert and Leaving all still holding on after a respective six, four and five weeks of play. Gainsbourg's box-office fell a slim 32% from the previous weekend, despite losing nine of its cinemas, and stayed in the top 10. Coco & Igor landed one place below, with a not-terribly-auspicious debut of £53,000 from 36 venues. Last summer, Coco Before Chanel opened with a whopping £423,000.

The survivor

With a drop of just 30%, Inception is once again the gentlest faller on the chart. Its fourth-weekend takings of £2.26m are the second highest for a 2010 release, behind only the fourth frame of Alice In Wonderland (£2.50m). Fourth-weekend takings for 2010's other £20m-plus grossers are as follows: Clash of the Titans, £985,000; Iron Man 2, £523,000; Sex and the City 2, £710,000; Shrek Forever After, £1.22m; The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, £779,000. (Toy Story 3 has only been on release for three weekends.)

With £25.72m so far, Inception ranks ninth among films released in the past 12 months, behind Avatar, Toy Story 3, Alice In Wonderland, Up, Shrek Forever After, Twilight flicks Eclipse and New Moon, and Sherlock Holmes. It is clearly headed for £30m-plus, which would place it ahead of the last three titles on that list. Of films released in the 2010 calendar year, Inception currently ranks fifth.

The losers

Thanks to weak screen averages the previous weekend, and pressure on screens caused by the top eight films enjoying a 400-plus theatre count, two titles lost a punitive chunk of their playdates and thus plummeted down the chart. Catherine Zeta-Jones romcom The Rebound lost 195 of its 247 screens (ie 79% of them), and saw box-office revenues fall by a woeful 84%. Similarly, Predators went down from 164 to 47 cinemas (a drop of 71%), and saw takings decline by 79%.

The future

In line with post-World Cup trends, box-office is overall 64% up on the equivalent weekend from last year, when The Ugly Truth and GI Joe opened in the top two positions. But the market has its work cut out if it hopes to maintain that level of uptick, since this weekend's new releases are middling Disney adventure The Sorcerer's Apprentice and M Night Shyamalan's critically derided kiddie sci-fi The Last Airbender. In the US, the popularity of the latter's source material (Nickelodeon TV cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender) ensured a blockbuster opening; in the UK, the property isn't such an automatic easy sell.

Top 10 films

1. Toy Story 3, £4,666,021 from 555 sites. Total: £51,524,519

2. Knight And Day, £2,404,163 from 434 sites (New)

3. Inception, £2,259,595 from 468 sites. Total: £25,719,644

4. Step Up 3D, £2,015,403 from 400 sires (New)

5. Cats & Dogs: The Revenge Of Kitty Galore, £1,553,005 from 408 screens (New)

6. The Karate Kid, £1,411,486 from 446 sites. Total: £8,566,079

7. The A-Team, £1,386,868 from 453 sites. Total: £7,041,641

8. Shrek Forever After, £362,464 from 407 sites. Total: £30,468,038

9. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse £324,469 from 271 sites. Total: £28,870,688

10. Gainsbourg, £87,125 from 50 sites. Total: £343,467

How the other openers did

Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, 36 screens, £52,874

Aisha, 25 screens, £52,759

Undertow, 6 screens, £10,132

Eccentricities Of A Blonde Haired Girl, 2 screens, £1,898


Charles Gant

The GuardianTramp

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