Whichever way you look at it, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has just posted the biggest opening of 2014. Including previews from Wednesday and Thursday last week, the superhero sequel has earned five-day takings of £9.01m, which is ahead of The Lego Movie's previews-inclusive opening tally of £8.05m. Strip out the previews, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2comes in at £6.13m, which compares with Lego's £5.9m over the Friday-to-Sunday period.
Back in July 2012, the first Amazing Spider-Man film opened with £11.09m, including three days' worth of previews, totalling £4.36m. That six-day figure is very similar to the sequel's tally over the same period, also including Easter Monday. The first Amazing Spider-Man rapidly faced stiff competition from the likes of The Dark Knight Rises, and ended up with £26m here. With significantly less blockbuster competition in the offing, Sony will be hoping that Amazing Spider-Man 2 will show sturdier legs, pushing up towards £30m. On the other hand, most kids are now back at school, which will limit the film midweek to primarily adult audiences.The official weekend box-office chart does not include takings for Easter Monday. However, distributor Sony reports these as £1.72m, taking Spidey's total to £10.73m for the six days.
Among existing films in the market, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had the strongest impact on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which falls a hefty 53% from the previous weekend. But its gross of £16.75m so far is well ahead of the £9.48m achieved here by the first Captain America.
Moving up a place to second position, Rio 2 declined a relatively slim 27% from the previous weekend, and has added a nifty £3.03m over the past seven days. Weekend takings only contributed £1.13m of that total, meaning that the film performed particularly impressively on weekdays last week, in the run-up to Good Friday. School holidays and animation make happy bedfellows for UK cinemas. The original Rio film stood at £8.02m after three weeks of play, compared with £9.79m for Rio 2currently, a disparity that should give distributor Fox encouragement. The alternatives
Several titles were positioned as counter-programming to Amazing Spidey, with mixed results. The Love Punch certainly offered an alternative to the teen characters foregrounded in the Marvel actioner, via lead actors aged 55 (Emma Thompson) and 60 (Pierce Brosnan). The European romantic caper rung up an OK £613,000 from UK cinemas, although with an aggressive rollout on 371 screens, the number translates to a lacklustre site average of £1,653.
Nurtured at a more selective 118 cinemas, Locke relied almost entirely on the star power of Tom Hardy, the only actor who appears on the screen. A debut of £251,000 and a decent screen average of £2,128 resulted. Distributor Lionsgate will be happy that its gross held steady across the weekend (Fri-Sat-Sun: £80,000, £82,000, £81,000), while the market overall dipped (Fri-Sat-Sun: £4.8m, £4.3m, £4.0m). Including Easter Monday, Locke is up to £316,000. Relevant comparisons are hard to identify, but the last film largely resting on Hardy's shoulders was 2011's Warrior, which kicked off with £808,000 from 383 screens, including £186,000 in previews. Before that, Bronson debuted in 2009 with £258,000 from 85 venues.
The big fallers
The arrival of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 saw hefty falls for a fair few titles, but not many matched the plummets of 67% for Hammer's The Quiet Ones and 69% for action sequel The Raid 2. Genre cinema is traditionally front-loaded, with receptive audiences keen to be the first to see, before attention quickly moves on. The original Raid also fell hard on its second weekend, by 70%.
The art-house battle
Seven weeks after the arrival of The Grand Budapest Hotel, the art-house sector has yet to deliver another clear winner. John Michael McDonagh's Calvary posted a strong second session, with a decline from the previous weekend of just 30%, and £1.39m so far, but this figure is boosted by big numbers in Ireland, which are always included in reports of UK box-office.
Thanks to an expanded screen count (from 28 to 42), Ritesh Batra crowdpleaser The Lunchbox saw its box-office rise by 18% in its second session, and has now grossed £229,000, putting it on course to be one of the bigger art-house foreign language films of the year. Wes Anderson's Grand Budapest Hotel is still hanging on at number 12 in the chart, and has now pushed through into eight figures with £10.29m.
New arrival We Are the Best!, from Lukas Moodysson, disappointed relative to its mostly adulatory reviews, with £42,000 from 40 cinemas. That's about level with the debut takings of Lilya 4-Ever (£39,000), but the earlier film managed that tally from only 13 cinemas. Moodysson's best opening remains his crowdpleasing Together (£70,000 from 16 screens), and it was hoped that We Are the Best! would place him back on that commercial trajectory. Including Easter Monday, We Are the Best! stands at £53,000.
Bums on seats
Admissions figures – the number of tickets sold – have been announced for March, and are 5% down on March 2013. Admissions for the first quarter (January-March) are also 5% down on a year ago. Easter fell late this year, delaying the release of big titles such as Captain America 2, Rio 2 and Noah, so admissions figures should bounce back in April. Whether they can close the gap of 2.05 million – the disparity between 2014 and 2013 after the first quarter – remains to be seen.
The futureThanks to the arrival of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, UK box office bounced back from the doldrums, rising 61% from the previous weekend, and 85% from the equivalent session a year ago, when Gerard Butler's Olympus Has Fallen knocked Tom Cruises's Oblivion off the top spot. For the immediate future, the picture looks less rosy, since there are no more slam-dunk blockbusters coming for a while. This week sees the arrival of Cameron Diaz comedy The Other Woman, plus Johnny Depp inTranscendence (which played paid previews over the Easter weekend) and Mia Wasikowska in Tracks, the true tale of one woman's solo trek across the Australian outback. None are likely to prove too troubling to Amazing Spider-Man.