London, Another weekend of hot temperatures

plus an England World Cup quarter final on a Saturday � typically

cinema’s busiest day � combined to lay waste to the UK box office. Not

counting those who watched in restaurants and on outdoor screens,

19.64 million people at peak saw England beat Sweden on Saturday

afternoon. There was plenty of time to watch a film at the cinema after

the game, but jubilant football fans were hardly going to choose to do

so.

Overall, the market recorded its lowest box office of the year so

far. Saturday was notably weak: the day’s takings were 18% behind

Sunday box office. For comparison, the previous weekend, Saturday

was 31% ahead of Sunday.

Although cinemas cannot charge audiences to watch World Cup

football due to licensing agreements, at least one chain opted to offer

audiences the match for free. The 24-venue Picturehouse presented

the England v Sweden game on the big screen, presumably

calculating that it is better to have customers using the restaurants

than having no customers at all. Picturehouse will also show

Wednesday’s semi-final between England and Croatia.

When Universal decided to release The First Purge in the UK

on 4 July, it might have been hoping England would be knocked out of

the World Cup by then. In any case, this was also the North American

date, and Hollywood studios tend to prefer globally aligned release

dates for franchise titles due to fears about online piracy.

The First Purge saw Saturday takings below the Friday and

Sunday numbers in the UK, but managed an opening weekend in

seven figures: Pound 1.16m. Add in Wednesday and Thursday and that

number rises to Pound 1.78m.

For comparison, 2016’s The Purge: Election Year began with

Pound 808,000 in the UK; 2014’s The Purge: Anarchy with Pound 1.17m (almost

identical to The First Purge) and 2013’s The Purge with Pound 1.02m. The

highest final total for the franchise so far is The Purge: Anarchy, with

Pound 4.58m.

Released into an ambitious 231 cinemas, Kevin Macdonald’s

Whitney has opened with a poor Pound 116,000, or Pound 143,000 including

previews. Not counting previews, site average for the Whitney Houston

film was a weak Pound 501.

Distributor Altitude had enjoyed stellar success with Asif Kapadia’s

Amy, and was presumably hoping that audiences would similarly

embrace this documentary about a deceased female singer. Kapadia’s

film debuted in July 2015 with Pound 397,000 from 133 sites, and Pound 523,000

including previews. Final tally was Pound 3.76m.

With Whitney, Altitude faced the challenge that Whitney: Can I

Be Me, co-directed by Nick Broomfield, opened just over a year ago. It

began with Pound 39,000 from 60 sites, and Pound 94,000 including previews.

A boon to independent cinemas in particular was the Beatles’

Yellow Submarine, a 50th-anniversary rerelease of the animated

classic. Picturehouse screened it at 72 venues on Sunday only, in an

event-style release. Box office was a robust Pound 163,000, yielding a site

average of Pound 2,266. This was the second strongest average of any film

on release, behind only The Purge � and achieved from just two

showings in each venue, as opposed to a weekend of play for other

titles. The Beatles film now enjoys a regular release from this Friday at

around 50 venues, with a sing-along version following from 3 August.

Overall box office declined by a reasonably slim 10% from the

previous session. However, takings were down a much more alarming

65% on the equivalent weekend from 2017, when Spider-Man:

Homecoming arrived at the top spot.

Data gatherer comScore has released figures for the month of

June, and for the first six months of the year. June began strongly this

year relative to 2017, but went into dramatic decline with the arrival of

very hot weather and the World Cup. Overall box office for the first six

months is running 2% behind 2017 levels, despite ticket price inflation.

Even if England wins its semi-final against Croatia on

Wednesday, ensuring maximum domestic interest in Sunday’s final,

salvation for cinemas must surely come, based on two significant new

releases. Thursday sees the arrival of Dwayne Johnson in action movie

Skyscraper. And then the next day comes Pixar’s Incredibles 2, which

has already grossed $504m in the US and $772m worldwide.

Top 10 films, 6-8 July:

1. The First Purge, Pound 1,778,157 from 481 sites (new)

2. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Pound 1,318,104 from 612 sites. Total:

Pound 36,810,689 (five weeks)

3. Ocean’s 8, Pound 837,427 from 490 sites. Total: Pound 8,529,286 (three weeks)

4. Sicario 2: Soldado, Pound 321,750 from 559 sites. Total: Pound 1,462,458 (two

weeks)

5. Tag, Pound 250,517 from 453 sites. Total: Pound 1,063,855 (two weeks)

6. Adrift, Pound 229,898 from 471 sites. Total: Pound 979,004 (two weeks)

7. Patrick, Pound 226,306 from 518 sites. Total: Pound 723,318 (two weeks)

8. Hereditary, Pound 224,003 from 413 sites. Total: Pound 5,090,322 (four weeks)

9. Sanju, Pound 221,424 from 112 sites. Total: Pound 939,136 (two weeks)

10. Yellow Submarine, Pound 163,155 from 72 sites (new), the British

Guardian newspaper reported.

Source: Oman News Agency