With last weekend beginning in late September, this weekend (6th-8th) marked the first official October weekend of of the year for the UK box office, with Blade Runner 2049 being the biggest debutante tasked with taking the torch from the record-setting IT and Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Produced for a budget rumoured to be in the region of $150-180million, Sony Pictures needed a surefire hit from Villeneuve, Gosling, Ford and company, but what they got was more of a mediocre opening that is posing a very real threat to the film’s financial viability.
Blade Runner 2049 opened with £6,071,625 this weekend (rounded to £6.1million in the video), making it by far the highest grossing movie of the weekend, out-grossing its nearest competition Kingsman by nearly £4million. At first glance this makes for good reading for Sony Pictures and the future of the Blade Runner franchise, but upon closer inspection things seem to have quietly fallen apart at the seams, leaving the movie close to financial disarray.
2049‘s opening was nearly £2.5million short of the opening Kingsman had, and just short of £4million shy of IT. In fact, the Stephen King horror adaptation made just as much money in its second weekend at cinemas as Blade Runner did in its first, earning just £1,000 less between the 15th and 17th September as Blade Runner has made this weekend. Perhaps the most damming statistic for Blade Runner is how the film compared to the biggest release for the same weekend in 2016: The Girl on the Train. The Tate Taylor movie starring Emily Blunt opened to £6,957,945 in 2016, some £800,000 stronger than Blade Runner 2049 has in 2017 even with the aide of increased ticket prices, and it did so via independent distributor eOne, a far cry from the studio powerhouse that Blade Runner distributor Sony Pictures so surely is.
As has been the case with a number of movies this year, not least Mother! – which tanked in its opening weekend – the UK’s box office chart has been representative of the much larger international market regarding its reception of would-be top grossing movies, and Blade Runner 2049 is no exception, hitting a similarly mediocre weekend of $32million in North America. For Blade Runner, this means that the total gross of the film worldwide as of Wednesday (11th Oct) is $86million (£65million), around only half of the movie’s budget and quite a long way from early projections that had the movie hitting over $100million by this stage in the week. If Blade Runner‘s promotional campaign has cost nearly as much as most campaigns for movies of its size, Sony Pictures will likely be looking for around $260million just to break even financially on the project, something that now seems to be all-but out of sight barring an unlikely re-release should the film receive a hefty amount of Golden Globe and/or Oscar nominations.
Perhaps the most interesting question here is: do people actually care about good reviews for films as much as they do about bad reviews for films? Because by judging Flatliners back-to-back with Blade Runner, it would seem that 2049 gained very little from its overwhelmingly favourable reviews and Flatliners was almost dead on arrival courtesy of a flurry of bad reviews and its (at least at one point) 0% Rotten Tomatoes score.
Here are the actuals for the entire top 15:
- Blade Runner 2049 – weeks on release: 1 – weekend: £6,071,625 – total: £6,071,625
- Kingsman: The Golden Circle – 3 – £2,112,966 – £19,458,871
- IT – 5 – £807,500 – £30,961,497
- The Mountain Between Us – 1 – £777,646 – £777,646
- Victoria and Abdul – 4 – £467,042 – £8,233,307
- Goodbye Christopher Robin – 2 – £397,441 – £1,744,601
- Event Cinema: Norma – Met Opera 2017 – 1 – £224,794 – £224,794
- Flatliners – 2 – £195,318 – £950,711
- Home Again – 2 – £174,798 – £952,034
- The EmojiMovie: Express Yourself – 10 – £141,250 – £14,612,815
- Captain Underpants – 11 – £106,679 – £8,019,432
- The Jungle Bunch – 4 – £105,701 – £1,201,912
- Maze – 3 – £88,765 – £521,183
- Despicable Me 3 – 15 – £87,124 – £47,064,144
- Judwaa 2 – 2 – £79,227 – £349,245
Perhaps the biggest news elsewhere on this week’s chart is that IT has now officially surpassed Spider-Man: Homecoming in terms of its overall gross in the region, making it the number 5 movie of the year with a figure just short of £31million. This is quite the phenomenal achievement for a movie made for around £26.5million (in comparison to Homecoming‘s £132.5million), and has helped elevate the movie past the latest Transformers film and into the number 10 spot on the worldwide release chart for the year thus far, sitting pretty on $606million (£459million) and with Halloween likely to keep its run in cinemas strong through the coming weeks.
Elsewhere, Dunkirk is notable by its absence as the Christopher Nolan directed war-thriller finally bowed out of the top 15 after 11 strong weeks and around £57million earned in the region – the year’s 2nd highest gross behind Beauty and the Beast‘s £70million. It’s joined on the shelf by box office disappointments American Made and American Assassin, as well as the aforementioned Mother! which did eventually strike even financially despite controversy surrounding its release and early projections slating it for failure.
Despicable Me 3 finally dropped out of the top 10 this week after 14 successive weeks, with its gross of just over £87,000 indicating a winding down period for the film before its inevitably huge home video release in time for Christmas. The £47million gross the film has earned makes it the highest grossing animation of 2017, with little by the way of major competition left to challenge it in the winter. This figure also makes Despicable Me 3 a comfortable 3rd in the UK’s overall highest grossing movies of the year thus far, way ahead of 4th placed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (£41million). With Thor: Ragnarok, The Justice League and, of course, Star Wars – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi set for release in the coming months, Despicable Me 3 will face a strong challenge for its lofty position as the year winds down.
Finally, it seems that the strong UK promotional campaign of The Mountain Between Us and particularly its stars Kate Winslet and Idris Elba has somewhat paid off, with a gross just short of £800,000 seeming strong versus such stiff competition given its relative size.Victoria & Abdul also continues to shine, surpassing £8.2million in its 4 week stint in the top 5 and making a total of just under £25million worldwide thus far.
The Lego Ninjago Movie seems to be the most likely release set to challenge Blade Runner 2049, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and IT at the top of next week’s chart, but the most interesting stories will likely be whether IT can remain strong just before the Halloween boom and whether Blade Runner can ease its financial woes by maintaining relatively high numbers at the box office courtesy of its reviews and strong word of mouth. Until then, keep up to date with us on Facebook and Twitter, and make sure to subscribe to us on YouTube for first access to the UK Box Office Chart Top 5 video posted every Tuesday.