It’s Wednesday, the UK box office actuals are in and our top 5 chart video is online, meaning that I can finally sink my teeth into some of this week’s most interesting box office related facts and hopefully offer some insightful commentary on what is succeeding, what isn’t, what you may want to support and what you may want to cast aside, as well as whether Mother! has the potential to survive another week in our top 5 video…
At first glance, a third place debut for Mother! seems relatively strong, but when you consider the pulling power of lead actress Jennifer Lawrence, an expensive promotional campaign and a huge wide release, the return of £831,676 starts to look a whole lot less impressive.
To place things into context, the last Jennifer Lawrence movie Passengers opened with £2.4million despite being released 2 days before Christmas and only a week following Star Wars movie Rogue One. Joy (2015) made £1.5million in its opening weekend against The Force Awakens, with the other of Lawrence’s films since 2014 being big-budget, large grossing franchise movies The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 & 2 and X-Men: Apocalypse. Though, technically, Mother! has grossed more of a percentage of its budget back in its first weekend than Passengers, the earlier Lawrence film did have the benefit of running through to the new year with weakened competition, whereas Mother! seems to be getting cut off at the neck…
One of the reasons for such low numbers could be the hapless promotional campaign wrongly advertising the film as a jump-scare horror, when it is in fact more of a high budget art-house thriller with very little attachment to your conventional horror film, or Jennifer Lawrence film for that matter. The idea behind this decision from Paramount was probably to ensure some sort of return on the $30million investment that they put into this movie, but with only $14million taken over the course of its opening 5 days or so (worldwide), it looks unlikely to break even, especially given that a series of major cinema chains are removing the film from their screens at the end of this working week. This is a tweet from one of the UK’s biggest independent movie showcasing cinema chains, Picturehouse:
— City Screen York (@CityScreenYork) September 19, 2017
Perhaps most shockingly regarding Mother!’s performance is how much better Victoria & Abdul has done this weekend – grossing £1.8million (actual: £1,846,970) from far less screens. If you take my district in Yorkshire as an example… Mother! is being shown in 3 cinemas within a 10 mile radius of my house, whereas Victoria & Abdul is showing in just 1 cinema within a 40 mile radius.
Mother! was a hard watch. The movie scored an F on Cinemascore, the brand that collects data from audiences exiting screenings across the US, and has been met with a quite vicious online backlash. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and it’s often very difficult to remove a film from the expectations of its audience. In this case, it was expected that Mother! would be a horror. It wasn’t. Perhaps this can be a valuable lesson for distributors and their advertising firms to learn.
Elsewhere in the charts, IT reclaimed the top spot with another very strong £6million+ week (actual: £6,070,542) showing that the film has longevity, with a run through to Halloween seeming likely at this stage. While box office totals for this film are bound to drop to below £1million within 3 weeks, the film could maintain a strong top 5 spot for just as long, especially if the bottom end of the top 5 continues to offer returns below 7 figures.
Here are the top 15 films from the UK Box Office from this past weekend:
- IT – weeks on release: 2 – weekend: £6,070,542 – total: £21,168,697
- Victoria & Abdul – 1 – £1,846,970 – £1,846,970
- Mother! – 1 – £831,676 – £831,676
- American Assassin – 1 – £768,951 – £768,951
- The EmojiMovie: Express Yourself – 7 – £388,656 – £13,653,209
- The Jungle Bunch – 1 – £374,981 – £374,981
- American Made – 4 – £344,763 – £5,044,991
- Dunkirk – 9 – £336,547 – £55,758,074
- Wind River – 2 – £255,037 – £942,773
- Despicable Me 3 – 12 – £254,958 – £46,505,691
- The Hitman’s Bodyguard – 5 – £235,043 – £7,111,031
- Logan Lucky – 4 – £124,250 – £3,207,542
- Cars 3 – 10 – £112,264 – £11,425,628
- Captain Underpants – 8 – £102,444 – £7,719,673
- Girls Trip – 8 – £82,802 – £8,869,229
As you can see, lower down the charts, Dunkirk and Despicable Me 3 hold on to top 10 spots despite being in their 9th and 12th weekend respectively, with each of them forcing themselves further into the year’s top 5 thus far. It seems it will take a lot to knock them out, though IT may shake up the year’s top 5 and we are still awaiting the huge releases of Thor 3 and Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.
Noticeably, it seems that the disappointing box office draw Logan Lucky and action-comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard are preparing to bow out of the chart, with this week marking the end of British independent film God’s Own Country‘s run altogether.
I’ll be back next week, when we’re unlikely to see any real moves from Mother! and there’ll be the new Kingsman movie to challenge IT for the top spot. Make sure to check back with us each week to keep a tab on what’s popular and what isn’t at the UK Box Office, and remember to subscribe to us on YouTube for first access to our weekly Top 5 UK Box Office lists.