The winner: Doctor Strange

Disney-Marvel’s strategy of creating film franchises beyond its core Avengers group of characters has achieved its latest success with the release of Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. A UK debut of £5.49m at the weekend and £9.29m including three days of previews represents a robustly encouraging result. While below the opening numbers of recent Avengers films, it compares favourably to Ant-Man’s debut of £4.01m in July last year, and is also better than Guardians of the Galaxy’s initial £4.99m plus £1.37m in previews in 2014.

Marvel and parent Disney have significantly expanded the range of stories and genres that work within the brand. While Marvel has long straddled comedy and science fiction, Guardians of the Galaxy pushed it further in that direction. Now Doctor Strange takes the action into a cosmic realm of astral projection, time loops and alternate dimensions.

Doctor Strange: trailer for film starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme

Boosted by the half-term holiday last week, Doctor Strange exceeded £1m box office every day of release. The film should have no problem exceeding Ant-Man’s £16.3m and may approach Guardians of the Galaxy’s £28.5m. Cumberbatch’s previous best as a lead actor was The Imitation Game, with £16.4m.

The indie hit: I, Daniel Blake

Boosted in part by an expansion from 94 to 211 cinemas, I, Daniel Blake rises 18% from the previous weekend, for a 10-day total of £1.33m. There were significant individual successes at key venues – takings went up at Manchester HOME – and they barely dipped at other core indie sites. Tyneside Cinema delivered another stellar result, aided by the film’s local setting.

I, Daniel Blake: the trailer for Ken Loach’s Palme d’Or-winner

I, Daniel Blake has set a faster pace than any previous Ken Loach film. The Wind That Shakes the Barley – Loach’s biggest UK hit – stood at £1.16m at this stage of its run. That film was boosted by huge numbers in Ireland, which is treated as part of a single reporting territory with the UK. It went on to a whopping lifetime gross of £3.91m. Loach’s second biggest UK hit, The Angels’ Share, reached £1.98m, boosted by a stellar result in Scotland.

Top indie challengers were the relatively modest Train to Busan (£38,000 including previews), After Love (£23,000) and Werner Herzog’s Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (£20,000 plus £51,000 in previews). Already on release are Queen of Katwe (£37,000 at the weekend), My Scientology Movie (£32,000) and American Honey (£25,000). I, Daniel Blake grossed £476,000 over the weekend period. The film led the British independent film awards nominations announced this week, with seven nods.

The phenomenon: Bridget Jones’s Baby

It’s official: Bridget Jones’s Baby is now the biggest grossing film of 2016 at UK cinemas. Although it ended the weekend with £46.17m, just behind The Jungle Book’s £46.19m, Monday’s takings pushed Bridget to £46.27m. Other top titles this year include Finding Dory (£42.6m), Deadpool (£37.9m), Captain America: Civil War (£37.0m) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (£36.6m). Not many would have predicted that the revival of Working Title’s Bridget Jones franchise would gross £10m more here than the year’s big superhero smackdowns from Marvel and DC.

Bridget Jones’s Baby: watch Renée Zellweger return in new trailer – video

Achieving its own milestone is The Girl on the Train, which cracked £20m on Sunday. It’s the 13th film this year to achieve that feat, following The Revenant, Deadpool, Batman v Superman, Zootropolis, The Jungle Book, Captain America: Civil War, The Secret Life of Pets, The BFG, Finding Dory, Jason Bourne, Suicide Squad and Bridget Jones’s Baby.

The Diwali hit: Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

The Diwali festival invariably brings a major Bollywood release to cinemas, and in 2016 it was Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, from director Karan Johar (Shah Rukh Khan hits such as Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham … and My Name Is Khan). Johar’s latest film reteams Bombay Velvet’s Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma, adding Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (probably best known in the UK for Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice). Romantic drama Ai Dil Hai Mushkil (rough English translation: Oh my dear heart, it’s tough) has opened with £617,000 from 132 cinemas, delivering a good average of £4,677.

Ai Dil Hai Mushkil has delivered the biggest debut for a Bollywood film this year – as long as previews are discounted from the opening tally of July release Sultan. That Salman Khan starrer began with £603,000 plus hefty previews of £445,000, for a combined £1.05m. For Diwali last year, top Bollywood title Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, starring Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor, opened with £725,000 plus previews of £187,000.

Spreading the wealth

For only the second time this year, all films in the UK Top 10 took at least £500,000. With £532,000, Ouija: Origin of Evil achieved the highest gross for a 10th-placed film since early January 2015, when Annie found itself in 10th place in its third week of release, grossing £628,000.

The future

‘It really got to me’: Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander on The Light Between Oceans

The arrival of Doctor Strange helped UK box office rise 21% on the previous frame. Compared to the equivalent weekend in 2015, however, it’s a huge drop of 59% – because that session saw the arrival of Spectre, which delivered a mammoth £41.3m including previews. Cinemas have already made adjustments to their programmes to make way for the arrival today of The Light Between Oceans, the romantic literary adaptation starring Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz. From Friday, they will also be accommodating Tom Ford’s acclaimed Nocturnal Animals, starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal, The Accountant, a thriller starring Ben Affleck, and A Street Cat Named Bob, adapted from the bestselling memoir by James Bowen.

Top 10 films, 28-30 October

1. Doctor Strange, £9,288,898 from 602 sites (new)

2. Trolls, £3,256,912 from 611 sites. Total: £14,001,328

3. Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, £1,258,900 from 518 sites. Total: £5,576,134

4. The Girl on the Train, £1,215,472 from 551 sites. Total: £20,427,279

5. Bridget Jones’s Baby, £673,069 from 451 sites. Total: £46,171,396

6. Inferno, £648,287 from 455 sites. Total: £7,241,956

7. Storks, £622,261 from 554 sites. Total: £5,236,659

8. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, £617,400 from 132 sites (new)

9. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, £549,103 from 462 sites. Total: £11,541,505

10. Ouija: Origin of Evil, £532,375 from 419 sites. Total: £1,919,471

Tim Burton: ‘When I first came to England I thought, Wow! I’m home!’ – video interview

Other openers

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World, £70,453 (including £50,517 previews), 19 sites

Shivaay, £40,255 from 56 sites

Train to Busan, £38,183 from 33 sites

Kodi, £34,216 from 25 sites

After Love, £23,070 from 10 sites

Ethel & Ernest, £19,202 from 27 sites

Kaashmora, £19,190 from 18 sites

Starfish, £10,692 from 24 sites

Boyz N the Hood, £8,671 from 23 sites (reissue)

League of Legends World Championship Finals Viewing Party, £8,100 from 14 sites

Luck-Key, £7,789 from five sites

Burn Burn Burn, £7,476 from 10 sites

Into the Inferno, £3,018 from one site

The Comedian’s Guide to Survival, £78 from four sites

Capture Kill Release, £59 from one site

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


Charles Gant

The GuardianTramp

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