The winner: Justice League
The $94m debut for Justice League in the US has been branded a disappointment, but it’s not so clear that the £7.26m UK debut can be so easily described. First, if previews are ignored, that figure ranks as the eighth-biggest opening of 2017, behind Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, Despicable Me 3, Dunkirk, It, Fast & Furious 8 and Paddington 2. So, not so shabby.
Second, the UK just hasn’t been such a consistent supporter of DC movies. Take Wonder Woman, which opened at $103m in the US, on its way to a $413m total. It’s the second-biggest hit of the year so far in North America. In the UK, it began with £4.96m (£6.18m including previews), maxing out with £22.2m – only the 16th-biggest hit of the year so far in this market. Justice League has opened bigger.
Wonder Woman benefited from warm word-of-mouth, ending up with more than four times its opening box-office number. It remains to be seen how Justice League holds up. User rating is a decent 7.4/10 at IMDb.
The runner-up: Paddington 2
Despite opening with a whopping £8.26m, Paddington 2 falls just 20% in its second session, for a 10-day total of £16.9m. This compares with £10.3m for Paddington at the same stage of its run three years ago. The planets look well aligned for Paddington 2 to reach a giant total. The film opened 18 days earlier in the calendar than the original movie and so has all those extra play dates in the run-up to Christmas. It will face competition for the family audience from the animated Ferdinand (arriving 16 December) and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle(20 December), but don’t discount the possibility of the marmalade-loving bear sustaining a presence right through the Christmas holidays – especially if repeat business kicks in. The original film reached £37.9m in the UK.
This weekend, Paddington 2 and Murder on the Orient Express should become the 18th and 19th releases to reach £20m at the UK box office this year. Justice League should eventually become the 20th, then we have Star Wars: The Last Jedinext month. In 2016, only 17 films reached that figure.
The alternatives: Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool and Ingrid Goes West
Neither movie set the box office on fire, but Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool did a better job of defining its audience, debuting with an OK £215,000 from 149 cinemas (£236,000 including previews). Ingrid Goes West fell short, with £66,000 from 161 venues.
The invisible entry: Mudbound
Netflix released Mudbound into a number of Curzon cinemas, in order to qualify the 1940s-set US rural drama for the forthcoming Bafta film awards. Traditionally, Netflix’s awards-qualifying releases have been stealthy affairs, but not in this instance, with marketing in publications including the Guardian and screenings for critics. However, one aspect of the release remains hidden: Mudbound’s box office has not been published by comScore.
Overall, box office is down 1% on the previous weekend and 14% down on the equivalent session from 2016, when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Themposted a huge opening number. The UK release calendar now looks relatively quiet in the run-up to The Last Jedi (arriving 14 December). This week’s big winner looks set to be Daddy’s Home 2, which banked nifty previews numbers at the weekend and arrives in cinemas on 22 November. Also in contention this weekend are true tennis tale Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone and Steve Carell, and the George Clooney-directed Suburbicon, with Matt Damon and Julianne Moore.
Top 10 films, 17-19 November
2. Paddington 2, £6,612,699 from 613 sites. Total: £16,893,580 (two weeks)
3. Murder on the Orient Express, £2,279,200 from 617 sites. Total: £17,753,371 (three weeks)
4. Thor: Ragnarok, £1,166,031 from 488 sites. Total: £28,210,484 (four weeks)
5. A Bad Moms Christmas, £761,829 from 413 sites. Total: £5,804,544 (three weeks)
6. Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, £236,317 from 150 sites (new)
7. The Death of Stalin, £111,743 from 140 sites. Total: £4,574,405 (five weeks)
8. Jigsaw, £105,861 from 218 sites. Total: £4,855,609 (four weeks)
9. The Florida Project, £103,014 from 97 sites. Total: £459,999 (two weeks)
10. The Exterminating Angel – Met Opera, £98,593 from 191 sites (new)
Ingrid Goes West, £65,750 from 162 sites
Verna, £47,092 from 26 sites
Good Time, £34,046 (including £17,232 previews) from 14 sites
Fireworks, £31,906 (including £31,681 previews) from one site
Tumhari Sulu, £22,692 from 15 sites
Lazer Team 2, £15,123 from 22 sites
Suspiria (4K restoration), £6,560 (including £4,882 previews) from one site
In the Name of Peace: John Hume in America, £1,033 from 12 sites
Strangled, £865 from one site
Trophy, £843 from three sites
Heartstone, £745 from two sites
Melle, £400 from one site
Theeran Adhigaram Ondru, £40 from one site
• Thanks to comScore. All figures relate to takings in UK and Ireland cinemas.