The winner: Black Panther
A commercially impotent set of new releases last Friday ensured that Black Panther remained unchallenged at the top of the UK box office for a fourth week, with weekend box office of £2.93m. After 27 days, the title’s cumulative box office has reached £39.8m – ahead of the lifetime total of every Marvel film accept Avengers Assemble (£51.9m) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (£48.3m).
Globally, Black Panther passed the $1bn barrier at the weekend, boosted by a solid opening in China ($66m). In the US, it’s reached a mighty $562m, making it the seventh biggest film of all time for the territory, behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Avatar, Titanic, Jurassic World, Marvel’s The Avengers (as it was called there) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Mother’s Day boost … The Greatest Showman. Photograph: Allstar/20th Century Fox
The runner-up: The Greatest Showman
Going back up to second place in its 11th week of release, The Greatest Showman saw box office rise by 26% from the previous session, boosted by singalong screenings on Mother’s Day (Sunday 11 March). The Hugh Jackman musical has now delivered 11 consecutive weekends with box office above £1m – an extremely rare feat. Total is £37.3m, which is an impressive 14.5 times the opening weekend number.
Also going back up the chart: The Shape of Water, with box office up 31% from the previous weekend, on the back of its Oscar wins; and Mother’s Day-friendly grey-pound romance Finding Your Feet, up 22%.
The new challenger: Gringo
Remarkably, only one new film was released wider than 300 cinemas at the weekend – Gringo – and it landed in a rather dismal 13th place. This means that there are no new films in the UK Top 10 for the first time since mid-December 2015, when essentially nothing opened the week prior to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This coming session sees the arrival of both Tomb Raider and Peter Rabbit, but neither are titles that would blow all existing films out of the water, so it’s not clear why so many UK distributors gave the 9 March release date a wide berth.
Gringo opened with £215,000 from 423 cinemas, yielding an anaemic site average of £508. British wrestling-themed comedy Walk Like a Panther did even worse: £91,000 from 222 venues, for a £411 average.
The arthouse alternative: You Were Never Really Here
You Were Never Really Here. Photograph: StudioCanal
Grossing almost as much at the weekend as Gringo, but in less than a fifth of its cinemas is Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here, with £211,000 from 77 sites. Previews push the Joaquin Phoenix starrer to £288,000, and thus above Gringo in the chart.
Ramsay’s last film was all the way back in October 2011: We Need to Talk About Kevin. The dark family drama debuted with £492,000 from 111 cinemas, including £33,000 in previews, eventually reaching a total of £2.22m. Distributor StudioCanal will presumably expand You Were Never Really Here this weekend, but the film has a long way to go to catch Kevin.
The flop: Wonder Wheel
In August 1992, Woody Allen was accused of sexual assault by his daughter Dylan Farrow, then aged seven, but the investigating state attorney did not press charges. In the intervening years, Allen has enjoyed significant hits including Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Blue Jasmine, also earning nine Oscar nominations in this period.
Litmus test … Wonder Wheel. Photograph: Amazon Studios
However, the #MeToo movement and the repeated claim by Farrow had the potential to cast the case in a different light, and the release of Allen’s latest film, Wonder Wheel, was always going to be a vital litmus test of public opinion. Confusing the matter somewhat is the fact that reviews have been soft (45/100 at MetaCritic), and distributor Warner Bros’ marketing campaign less than muscular.
Wonder Wheel has opened in the UK with a very poor £43,000 from 134 cinemas, yielding a £321 site average. This compares with a debut of £494,000 from 186 venues for his previous feature Café Society in September 2016. The difference between those two numbers must give concern to financiers and distribution partners on Allen’s next film A Rainy Day in New York, which is set to premiere this year.
Thanks to the lack of commercially appealing new releases, overall box office is down 17% on the previous session, and is also down 27% on the equivalent weekend from 2017, when Kong: Skull Island topped the chart on its debut. Cinemas are crying out for fresh product, and will have hopes pinned on the Tomb Raider reboot, Beatrix Potter adaptation Peter Rabbit and Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix in Mary Magdalene. Arthouse cinemas will be betting big on Cannes Palme d’Or winner The Square.
Top 10 films March 9-11
1. Black Panther, £2,931,682 from 585 sites. Total: £39,830,023 (four weeks)
2. The Greatest Showman, £1,567,366 from 563 sites. Total: £37,336,900 (11 weeks)
3. Red Sparrow, £1,166,764 from 542 sites. Total: £4,019,594 (two weeks)
4. Game Night, £887,115 from 494 sites. Total: £2,640,693 (two weeks)
5. Lady Bird, £703,115 from 518 sites. Total: £3,973,500 (three weeks)
6. Finding Your Feet, £573,481 from 460 sites. Total: £3,547,352 (three weeks)
7. The Shape of Water, £552,230 from 476 sites. Total: £6,349,265 (four weeks)
8. Coco, £465,033 from 548 sites. Total: £17,787,726 (eight weeks)
9. I, Tonya, £407,933 from 399 sites. Total: £2,826,908 (three weeks)
10. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, £359,714 from 386 sites. Total: £13,903,885 (nine weeks)
You Were Never Really Here, £288,344 (including £77,607 previews) from 77 sites
Gringo, £215,029 from 423 sites
Semiramide – Met Opera, £166,208 from 201 sites
Walk Like a Panther, £91,333 from 222 sites
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, £61,766 (including £48,242 previews) from 12 sites
Laung Laachi, £50,203 from 16 sites
Mom and Dad, £47,102 from 137 sites
Wonder Wheel, £42,976 from 134 sites
Sweet Country, £29,067 (including £12,205 previews) from 26 sites
The Lodgers, £5,818 from 14 sites (Ireland only)
Scott and Sid, £5,385 from eight sites
Ailecek Saskiniz, £4,497 from two sites
Wives on Strike: The Revolution, £2,510 from six sites
Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds, £1,513 from four sites
Aschhe Abar Shabor, £1,085 from four sites