‘Early Man’ and ‘Maze Runner’ Debut Strongly: UK Box Office Report Jan 26-28th 2018

There were no outstanding performers at the UK box office this past weekend though an impressive 9 films shared takings of over £1million each, with every film in the top 5 surpassing the £2million mark in an ultra-competitive market headlined by Darkest Hour and introducing Maze Runner: The Death Cure among others. Here are the top 5…

With Paddington 2 finally bowing out of the box office chart top 15 this week following an incredible £40million+ run, it seems that British audiences have turned to trusted home-nation animators Aardman Studios for their next fix of family fun, projecting the $50million stop-motion animated comedy to a £2million debut and fifth place in the box office chart. The Nick Park directed project cost just 1 quarter that of Pixar’s Coco which has so far accumulated just over £8million having been on the market a week longer. For Early Man to hit even close to Coco levels of takings seems unlikely, especially in such a competitive marketplace, but the animated film is by no means performing poorly, earning just £300,000 less than its more expensive juggernaut animation counterpart this past weekend and earning nearly double the amount of the heavily promoted – on TV, in cinemas, on busses, etc. – Downsizing, starring Matt Damon.

One stat that may be of concern for distributors Studiocanal – the same company behind the distribution of Paddington 2 – will be the film’s performance in comparison to other Aardman releases, as Early Man actually opened lower (albeit only slightly) than any Aardman film this decade:

  1. The Pirates! In Adventure with Scientists (2012) – £2,176,195
  2. Arthur Christmas (2011) – £2,112,516
  3. Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015) – £2,095,061
  4. Early Man (2018) – 1 – £2,020,653

Taking inflation into account, the returns of Early Man seem to indicate an even more substantial drop-off of audiences, with the margin between itself and other films only rising further:

  1. Arthur Christmas (2011) – £2,447,677
  2. The Pirates! In Adventure with Scientists (2012) – £2,442,993
  3. Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015) – £2,208,030
  4. Early Man (2018) – £2,020,653

It is worth noting that Shaun the Sheep Movie and Early Man, the two latest Aardman releases, were distributed by European studio Studiocanal, whereas Arthur Christmas and The Pirates! In Adventure with Scientists were distributed by American-based powerhouse studio Sony Pictures, a fact that perhaps offers an insight into the value of each release’s promotional budgets.

Also making its debut on the box office chart this weekend is the final instalment of young adult fantasy franchise Maze Runner starring Dylan O’Brien. The film, which was set back any number of months after its star suffered a near fatal injury while on set, seems to be the very last entry in the trend of young adult dystopian novel adaptations that became incredibly popular around the time of The Hunger Games, yet seems to have shown little signs of producing diminishing returns here in the UK, earning £2.2million over the weekend, more than the franchise’s first release accumulated over the same period in 2014. It has, however, suffered a quite significant drop-off since the last entry in the franchise The Scorch Trials (2015):

The Maze Runner (2014) – £2,041,229
The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) – £2,779,428
The Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018) – £2,247,915

In the US, the franchise has seen a steady decline in opening weekend grosses, with the takings seeming to indicate that The Death Cure was indeed the correct time to put an end to the franchise and indeed the YA trend:

The Maze Runner (2014) – $32,512,804
The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) – $30,316,510
The Maze Runner: The Death Cure (2018) – $24,167,011

At an estimated budget of $62million – a mid-range total for a film of its type – it seems that studio 20th Century Fox have hedged their bets, understanding the fragile nature of the landscape at this moment. It’s a bet that seems to have paid off, with worldwide audiences taking the film to a quite huge profit still early in its run, pushing the film to $109million as of today (Wednesday 31st January 2018).

Elsewhere in the top 5, The Greatest Showman and Darkest Hour seem to have maintained their performances, increasing their overall totals to just short of £20million and just over £15million respectively. Last week, we outlined how The Greatest Showman had a 0% drop-off from the weekend prior, and this week it has been similarly as remarkable, dropping just 2.9% in its fifth weekend. The popular musical is quickly closing in on La La Land as far as 2017 musical accumulations are concerned, with a top 20 place already earned and the top 10 clearly in its sights. Darkest Hour by comparison is still earning more at the box office each weekend, having been on release for two weeks less and having earned a boost from its Oscar and BAFTA nominations, but took a drop of 19% this weekend; a usually good retention score that seems to have been dwarfed by The Greatest Showman’s phenomenal performance.

Here are the overall figures for the top 15 films at the UK box office this past weekend January 26th-28th 2018:

  1. Darkest Hour – weeks on release: 3 – weekend: £2,672,022 – total: £15,224,229
  2. Coco – 2 – £2,315,450 – £8,165,400
  3. Maze Runner: The Death Cure – 1 – £2,247,915 – £2,247,915
  4. The Greatest Showman – 5 – £2,042,450 – £19,965,506
  5. Early Man – 1 – £2,020,653 – £2,020,653
  6. The Post – 2 – £1,604,133 – £5,209,856
  7. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – 3 – £1,249,691 – £7,605,591
  8. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – 6 – £1,219,880 – £34,147,183
  9. Downsizing – 1 – £1,131,687 – £1,131,687
  10. Padmaavat – 1 – £850,386 – £850,386
  11. The Commuter – 2 – £660,094 – £3,029,898
  12. Insidious: The Last Key – 3 – £505,604 – £4,582,081
  13. 12 Strong – 1 – £421,514 – £421,514
  14. Event Cinema: Tosca Met Opera 2018 – 1 – £404,993 – £404,993
  15. Star Wars: The Last Jedi – 7 – £339,915 – £82,125,212

Perhaps the most noteworthy entry to the chart this week outside of the top 5 was Downsizing which suffered at the hands of some outstanding competition to sit all the way down in 9th with an accumulation of £1,131,687. The total itself is relatively impressive, especially considering how the £1million mark is usually the cut off point to the top 5, but its positioning will be discouraging to cinemas who will see the film as less worthy of investment than the 8 above it and may therefore cut the number of screenings, damming the film to a poor overall run. The unusual concept movie was made for $68million and only managed to attain $24million in North America, its biggest market. With the international accumulation currently sitting at just $15million (including the UK’s contribution this past weekend), the film is set to take a huge loss regardless of its performance here, but its slow start won’t have helped. With advertising budgets and other marketing deals added to the cost of production, Downsizing is likely to have cost in the region of $100million, and it seems it will have to be lucky to make even $50million of that total back by the time it closes here in Europe.

One release this weekend that has been met with open arms in North America but has failed to find so much as an even reasonable audience here in the UK is 12 Strong, the War on Terror movie starring Chris Hemsworth. The film, which has been met with a string of above average reviews, tells the tale of an American group of insurgents heading to Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11, a concept it seems British audiences aren’t too interested in despite the pull of its lead star. Hitting just £421,514 out of the gate and sitting at 13th on the box office chart should mean that it will be pulled from most major cinema chains by the coming weekend, with the film extremely unlikely to make it to even £1million before all is said and done. Interestingly, 12 Strong has already made $30million in the US (after just a few days in cinemas), with European financials increasing the overall total accumulation to $35million in just 3 days, the same amount of money as was spent on the film’s entire production. Despite being a bomb here in the UK, 12 Strong has found great success in the States specifically, and could be a film we hear more from in the coming weeks.

The final topic of this week’s box office chart is Star Wars: The Last Jedi which looks set to leave us next week given its position at the foot of the table. Last week, we revealed that it had become the fifth highest grossing movie in the history of the UK box office, surpassing Titanic, and it seems like that is where it will stay, with Avatar sitting some £12million ahead of its £82million accumulation to this point. The 8th entry into the central Star Wars saga has earned $1.3billion (£916million) worldwide, which is an incredible figure yet still significantly down on the performance of its saga predecessor The Force Awakens which earned $2billion (£1.4billion) in 2015.

Next week, we’re likely to see a shake up in terms of the entire chart, with the collection of films above £1million likely to dissipate and a spate of new releases set to hit cinema screens including Paul Thomas Anderson’s Oscar-nominated Phantom Thread, star-studded war drama Journey’s End and crime-action film Den of Thieves starring 50 Cent and Gerard Butler. As always, we’ll bring you the very latest news and analysis right here on The Film Magazine, so make sure to bookmark our Home Page and keep up with us on Twitter and Facebook to be the first to be notified of our latest updates. You can also get out weekly box office chart videos before anyone else by subscribing to us on YouTube!

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