The winner: A Star Is Born
Having risen impressively from third place to the top spot at the UK box office a week ago, Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born remains chart champ for another session, resisting the challenge of Halloween. The romantic drama starring Cooper and Lady Gaga fell just 7% in box office from the previous weekend, and now stands at £14.9m after 19 days of play. For context, every other film in the UK Top 10 fell by numbers ranging from 39% (Smallfoot) to 56% (The House with a Clock in Its Walls).
With most schools on holiday for half-term this week, the 15-certificate film could see interest spike from the younger end of its audience, pushing it towards – or even past – £20m by this time next week. The arrival of Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody on Wednesday might pose something akin to direct competition.
The runner-up: Halloween
In the US, David Gordon Green’s Halloween sequel/reboot exploded at the top of the box office with $76m. By regular rule of thumb, an equivalent result for the UK would be £7.6m – way ahead of the actual achieved debut number, which is £2.66m.
An important caveat to note here is that the UK – and international territories in general – have never been as enthusiastic about the Halloween franchise as US audiences. For example, the 2007 reboot of Halloween grossed $58m in total in the US, and just $22m overseas. The £1.8m UK total for that film is about a third of what might have been predicted going by the regular industry rule of thumb.
The particular enthusiasm for the Halloween films in the US might to some degree reflect the country’s excitement about the annual costumed celebration. Other horror properties have not delivered such a bias in the box office figures – for example, a year ago Stephen King’s It grossed $327m in the US, and £32.3m in the UK, absolutely conforming to industry norms. The Nun recently grossed $117m in the US and £11.4m in the UK – again, in line with the conventional model.
Strength in depth: The £1m septet
In addition to A Star Is Born and Halloween, five other films grossed at least £1m at the weekend: Johnny English Strikes Again, Venom, Smallfoot, new release Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (£1.33m, and £2.12m including previews) and First Man. This is the seventh weekend this year where seven titles have all managed £1m or more, whereas in 2017, such a wide spread of titles grossing £1m in a single weekend only occurred once. In other words, distributors this year seem to have been more adept at presenting a complementary set of titles to audiences, neatly counter-programming to coexist in the marketplace.
The success of these seven titles at the weekend helped push overall box office to a 39% rise on the equivalent session from 2017, when Blade Runner 2049 retained the top spot, resisting the challenge of new entrant Geostorm. October 2018 has been consistently running ahead of October 2017 – welcome news to cinema operators after a rather lacklustre September.
The also-ran: Hunter Killer
Landing in eighth place in the UK chart with a mediocre £368,000 from 356 cinemas is submarine thriller Hunter Killer, starring Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman. The poor number is hardly a surprise. Given the current industry assumption that films must offer something special and different to compete with the likes of Netflix and propel audiences into the cinema, the only surprise is that a title as generic-seeming as Hunter Killer still gets made and released. Its backers will be hoping for happier outcomes on ancillary platforms. The film opens in the US this Friday (26 October).
Exactly a year ago, the final weekend of October 2017 welcomed Thor: Ragnarok to cinemas, giving a vital boost at the end of an otherwise rather indifferent month. This weekend, it will be a challenge for cinema admissions to match the number from a year ago, but plex operators have big hopes pinned on Bohemian Rhapsody, which opens on Wednesday (24 October), following its world premiere at London’s Wembley Arena tonight. Advance ticket sales are reportedly robust. Other releases this week – such as Brit genre title Possum and Norway’s Utøya: July 22 – look pretty modest.
Top 10 UK films October 19 to 21
1. A Star Is Born, £2,883,000 from 663 sites. Total: £14,874,834 (three weeks)
2. Halloween, £2,656,097 from 533 sites (new)
3. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, £2,119,165 from 526 sites (new)
4. Johnny English Strikes Again, £1,681,394 from 612 sites. Total: £10,973,138 (three weeks)
5. Venom, £1,568,433 from 540 sites. Total: £16,652,223 (three weeks)
6. Smallfoot, £1,427,000 from 605 sites. Total: £4,332,853 (two weeks)
7. First Man, £1,324,867 from 615 sites. Total: £5,115,235 (two weeks)
8. Hunter Killer, £368,082 from 356 sites (new)
9. Samson Et Dalila – Met Opera, £176,889 from 198 sites (new)
10. The House with a Clock in Its Walls, £175,353 from 415 sites. Total: £7,706,580 (three weeks)
Badhaai Ho, £85,576 from 20 sites
Fahrenheit 11/9, £56,814 from 40 sites
Namaste England, £56,709 from 57 sites
Vada Chennai, £49,627 from 45 sites
Dogman, £46,361 from 29 sites
Paw Patrol: Big Screen Takeover, £39,468 from 108 sites
Aate Di Chidi, £20,501 from 10 sites
VS., £8,801 from 94 sites
Sandakozhi 2, £8,386 from 12 sites
The Lonely Battle of Thomas Reid, £5,945 from five sites
Yol Arkadasim 2, £3,386 from two sites
Orphée, £2,855 from four sites (reissue)
Lost & Found, £1,303 from one site
Science Fair, £875 from four sites
Touch Me Not, £362 from two sites