Spectacular mashup of characters from across the Marvel universe boosts market by a sizeable 451% in best ever debut weekend for a superhero movie
The phenomenon: Avengers: Infinity War
The last weekend in April has served Disney and Marvel splendidly in the past three years with Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017). When Disney grabs that date for a Marvel movie, other distributors run for cover, The Guardian reports.
So it proved again with Avengers: Infinity War, which Disney launched into a market that contained little in competition – Rampage in its third week of play, and Ready Player One in its fifth. And, by mixing characters from across the Marvel Cinematic Universe, fans were offered a winning combination of familiarity and novelty.
Avengers: Infinity War debuted at UK cinemas with £23.1m for the weekend and £29.4m including Thursday. That’s the biggest opening ever for a superheromovie, and more than double the opening number for Black Panther which debuted in February with £17.7m including previews.
If previews are included in films’ opening tallies, this is the third biggest debut ever, behind Spectre (a seven-day £41.3m) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (£34m). If previews are excluded, Infinity War also delivered the third biggest opening ever, behind The Force Awakens (£24.3m) and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (£23.8m).
The alternative: Beast
Before 2017, the commercial track record for British films by first-time directors at UK cinemas was not encouraging, with admired debuts such as Scott Graham’s Shell, Daniel Wolfe’s Catch Me Daddy and Stephen Fingleton’s The Survivalist grossing less than £200,000 in the UK between them. Even the acclaimed talents such as Andrea Arnold and Lynne Ramsay didn’t translate acclaim into box office success, with Arnold’s debut Red Road grossing £331,000 in the UK and Ramsay’s Ratcatcher £438,000.
Last year, however, the bar for commercial success was suddenly set a lot higher when debut British filmmakers Will Oldroyd and Francis Lee grossed £813,000 and £871,000 with respectively Lady Macbeth and God’s Own Country.
Those robust numbers have evidently given encouragement to UK distributor Altitude, which has released Beast – from debut British director Michael Pearce – into a bullish 82 cinemas. The Jersey-set mystery/thriller/romance took a decent £127,000 (£166,000 including previews). That compares with a debut of £153,000 from 104 venues for Lady Macbeth a year ago, and £191,000 including previews. God’s Own Country began last September with £136,000 from 45 sites, and £168,000 including previews.
The recovery: Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Period romance The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society faced the challenge of sunny skies when it was released on 20 April, landing in third place with a soft £811,000 plus previews. But this is a film that appeals to older audiences – a cinema-going segment that is traditionally hesitant at weekends and strong on weekdays – and it rose to the top spot on Monday, grossing £1.24m over the Monday-to-Thursday period – 53% up on its weekend number.
Building on that success, Guernsey has posted a 22% rise on its debut number, with £969,000 for its second session, and a 10-day total of £3.03m. For comparison, Their Finest reached £2.3m at the same stage of its run a year ago. Guernsey is now running 31% ahead of that film’s pace.
Funny Cow, starring Maxine Peake as a standup comedian in the 1970s and 80s, showed an even bigger increase, up 38%. Second-weekend takings of £94,000 from 78 cinemas push the 10-day total to £247,000.
Thanks to the arrival of Infinity War, the market is a stunning 451% up on the previous session, and also 78% up on the equivalent weekend from 2017, which greeted the arrival of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Overall, box office was the strongest it’s been since late December 2015, which saw the arrival of The Force Awakens. Wide releases this weekend are Amy Schumer comedy I Feel Pretty, Charlize Theron comedy-drama Tully and horror The Strangers: Prey at Night.
Top 10 Films April 27-29
1. Avengers: Infinity War, £29,379,496 from 650 sites (new)
2. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, £968,681 from 544 sites. Total: £3,034,623 (two weeks)
3. A Quiet Place, £920,235 from 527 sites. Total: £9,871,073 (four weeks)
4. Rampage, £735,856 from 499 sites. Total: £7,816,910 (three weeks)
5. Peter Rabbit, £585,713 from 585 sites. Total: £39,634,873 (seven weeks)
6. The Greatest Showman, £300,947 from 317 sites. Total: £45,974,245 (18 weeks)
7. Truth Or Dare, £246,426 from 314 sites. Total: £2,193,619 (three weeks)
8. Blade Runner: The Final Cut – Secret Cinema, £225,428 from 1 site. Total: £2,079,998 (six weeks)
9. Cendrillon – Met Opera, £212,367 from 204 sites (live event, new)
10. Ready Player One, £203,129 from 321 sites. Total: £15,884,060 (five weeks)
Beast, £166,295 (including £39,280 previews) from 82 sites
Bing at the Cinema, £65,535 from 85 sites
The Delinquent Season, £11,570 from 10 sites (Ireland only)
The Wound, £8,428 from 13 sites
The Old Dark House, £6,509 from seven sites (rerelease)
Bhai Taru Singh, £4,792 from five sites
Trener, £3,358 from eight sites
Mohanlal, £751 from two sites
The Deminer, £164 from one site
• Thanks to comScore. All figures relate to takings in UK and Ireland cinemas.