There was no bigger news at the UK box office this weekend than the 3 new inclusions in the chart’s top 5, so let’s jump right in; shall we?
Make sure to pay particular attention to the debutante at number 5…
Polish language production Botoks hitting the number 5 spot and earning close to £800,000 (actual: £792,957) in its opening weekend is an achievement nobody could have seen coming. The flashy, adult piece surrounding the intertwining lives of four hospital staffers has been a huge success in Poland where it has earned upwards of £6million since its release in the country at the end of September, but with very little promotion – the movie doesn’t even have an English-language plot description on imdb – and a distributor (Phoenix Productions) as little known as the movie itself, this is undoubtedly the biggest domestic box office surprise of 2017.
Botoks is an 18-rated film – an age rating that typically draws much smaller audiences than lower age ratings – and is presented entirely in Polish. The director, Patryk Vega, is known in the nation for similar types of work, yet nothing he’s released has ever had such mass appeal, especially overseas as is the case with this picture. To describe Botoks’ performance as a phenomenon would be putting it lightly, and while its presence in the top 5 seems sure to be only for one week, its achievements must be seen as an important moment for film distributors in the UK, as film goers of Polish heritage have truly established themselves as an under-represented audience that could be seen as a demographic in of itself, with films regularly released via British-based distributors in much the same way that Bollywood films have been for the past 10-20 years. Botoks could be a game changer, not only in terms of film distribution in this country regarding Polish films, but also in terms of the UK’s cinema ties with the European Union after “Brexit”, as it seems unlikely that popular cinema chains will be happy at seeing box office returns of this size disappear from their profit sheets in the years to come, and even less likely that Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs – charged with taxing cinemas, ticket sales and so on – will be happy losing their cut of the profits too. Botoks may very well be one of the example used in arguments for maintaining freedom to work between EU citizens and UK citizens, as well as keeping international taxes low, in the post-split environment. Only time will tell.
Elsewhere in the top 5, the big news was of course the debut of The LEGO Ninjago Movie at number 1. The movie, which is the 3rd of the Lego branded animation movies – following The LEGO Movie and The LEGO Batman Movie – earned £3,642,038 in its opening weekend, just over half of the total claimed by Blade Runner 2049‘s disappointing debut last week, beating the Denis Villeneuve directed sci-fi (which sits at number 2) by around £500,000 in this week’s chart. It’s a box office return much lower than Lego would have expected given the form of animated movies in the UK this year, and marks a significant drop-off for the series of over 50% from the debuts of its previous instalments.
Oct 2017 – The LEGO Ninjago Movie – £3,642,038
Feb 2017 – The LEGO Batman Movie – £7,906,468
Feb 2014 – The LEGO Movie – £8,051,140
The answer as to why this drop-off has occurred most likely comes from the franchise adopting a much less popular intellectual property, Ninjago, to base the film upon, though franchise fatigue could also be to blame given that it is the second Lego branded movie of 2017.
At number 3 in the chart is the debuting The Snowman which, despite poor reviews, pushed ahead of Kingsman: The Golden Circle (in its 4th weekend) to earn £1,377,909 from a $35million budget. With the film yet to debut in the US, and international sales racking up at around £6.5million, it seems the film has a long way to go to break even despite the star power of the Jo Nesbø name and Michael Fassbender as the lead.
Here’s the top 15…
- The LEGO Ninjago Movie – weeks on release: 1 – weekend: £3,642,038 – total: £3,642,038
- Blade Runner 2049 – 2 – £3,098,872 – £12,184,828
- The Snowman – 1 – £1,377,909 – £1,377,909
- Kingsman: The Golden Circle – 4 – £1,347,964 – £21,781,664
- Botoks – 1 – £792,957 – £792,957
- The Mountain Between Us – 2 – £484,243 – £1,761,281
- The Ritual – 1 – £424,352 – £424,352
- IT – 6 – £413,359 – £31,748,050
- Loving Vincent – 1 – £274,036 – £274,036
- The Party – 1 – £234,985 – £234,985
- Victoria and Abdul – 5 – £224,175 – £8,993,612
- Die Zauberflote – Met Opera – 1 – £213,605 – £213,605
- Goodbye Christopher Robin – 3 – £206,597 – £2,288,085
- Despicable Me 3 – 16 – £119,250 – £47,191,580
- Captain Underpants – 12 – £72,455 – £8,100,263
Despite closing in on Halloween, IT seems to be falling quickly out of the chart, this week clocking in at number 8, making less than £500,000 for the first weekend of its 6 weekend run. The film may last through October 31st, but the likelihood of it pushing £35million seems unlikely. Even so, at £31-33million, IT is working week after week to further establish itself as one of this year’s biggest hits – both in the UK and internationally.
Similarly, Despicable Me 3 is working only to further certify its spot as one of the year’s most profitable films in the region. Now 16 weeks into its run, it seems that this may be have been the final week on the chart for the Illumination Entertainment animation, but having grossed over £47million, it’s currently the number 3 film of the year behind Dunkirk and Beauty and the Beast.
Victoria and Abdul has performed similarly as well given its relatively small production, dropping out of the top 10 for the first weekend of its 5 week run but pushing the £9million mark, while American funded The Mountain Between Us starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba seems likely to barely touch £2million despite a heavy promotional push in the UK in the build-up to its release.
Two independent debuts – The Party and Loving Vincent – have failed to blow away audiences it would seem, despite their original and enticing premises. The former, The Party, features a stacked cast for the director Sally Potter’s 9th feature-length film in a 40 year career, while Loving Vincent has brought particular attention for being the first and only oil-painted animated movie in history. With each of their runs looking likely to barely touch £500,000, their stories contrast those of Victoria and Abdul as well as the less-successful but still impressively performing Goodbye Christopher Robin.
With the chart seeming set on saying goodbye to long-standing inclusions Despicable Me 3 and Captain Underpants, next week’s chart should be interesting in terms of what replaces them and with what level of success. A similarly as intriguing story will come from Blade Runner 2049 as it attempts to make up its £130-150million budget despite suffering a 50% drop-off on its opening weekend despite not coming out of the gates as Sony may have expected. I’ll be back next Wednesday, but in the meantime make sure to subscribe to us on YouTube to get first access to our weekly box office chart videos (posted each Tuesday).