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Posted on April 12, 2011
Outdazzled … Raphael, voiced by George Lopez, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg), and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) in Rio. Photograph: Blue Sky Studios/AP The wipeout
Rio 3D Production year: 2011 Country: USA Cert (UK): U Runtime: 95 mins Directors: Carlos Saldanha Cast: Anne Hathaway, George Lopez, Jamie Foxx, Jane Lynch, Jemaine Clement, Jesse Eisenberg, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Will.i.am More on this film
Sunny skies are the mortal enemy of cinemagoing in the UK, and that’s never truer than on the first properly sunny weekend of the year. Most people choose parks and gardens over darkened multiplexes on any fine day, but when it’s the first to come along in many months, it’s really no contest.
The executives at 20th Century Fox will be cursing the weather gods now that the weekend numbers are in for Rio, the studio’s big animation of 2011, which took £1.52m including £109,000 in previews. That’s by no means a flop, but hopes will have been much higher for a talking-animal 3D animation overseen by Carlos Saldanha, who directed or co-directed all three Ice Age movies. The first Ice Age – which, like Rio, did not have the advantage of a built-in audience established by previous films – debuted with £3.03m back in 2002. Its sequels, The Meltdown (2006, £9.78m) and Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009, £7.64m) opened with significantly bigger numbers. (All figures include preview takings.) Even the less appealing Robots, likewise from Fox’s Blue Sky Studios, managed a £2.62m debut back in 2005, and that film didn’t have the benefit of Rio’s 3D or its Angry Birds app marketing tie-in.
Although Rio has yet to release in the US, it opened in 72 countries internationally at the weekend, grossing $55m. Considering the UK is traditionally a buoyant market for Blue Sky and animation in general, Fox will be disappointed that the territory delivered less than $2.5m (just over 4%) of that total. Russia contributed $10.4m, Brazil $8.3m (the biggest animated opening of all time, although in fairness the film is set there), and Mexico $5.3m. Several major territories, including France and Italy, have yet to open. Fox will be hoping for better things – much better – now that many UK schools have broken up for the Easter holidays.
Overall, the market posted the worst tally since June 2010, when World Cup football persuaded all the major studios to give plexes a full body swerve, resulting in a couple of consecutive weekends that delivered the lowest grosses in five years. That month saw the likes of Killers, Letters to Juliet and Death at a Funeral dumped into a blockbuster-free zone, and the current frame also has its share of unappealing titles, including three Hollywood offerings released on a combined 700-plus screens, grossing a collective total of £320,000.
Sony’s The Roommate, an update on the Single White Female formula starring Leighton Meester and Cam Gigandet, limped across the finish line with £120,000 from 227 venues. Disney animation Mars Needs Moms (retitled for the UK as Mars Needs Mums) took £114,000 from 303 cinemas; shockingly, this dismal figure benefits from £70,000 in previews, mostly grossed the previous Saturday and Sunday. Paramount’s teen action flick Tomorrow, When the War Began, which has the alibi of an Australian setting and unknown cast, kicked off with £86,000 from 205 cinemas.
These results confirm the oft-observed phenomenon that while audiences will ignore the rival temptation of sunny skies if there is a film they have an urgent need to see, lesser attractions are particularly vulnerable to warm weather. If it’s not a must-see, why rush? According to virtually everybody, The Roommate, Mars Needs Mums and Tomorrow, When the War Began are not must-see movies.
The steady holders
Most weekends, respective falls of 35% and 39% for Source Code and Limitless would hardly merit comment. But with audiences shunning cinemas in general, and drops of 56% and 57% for Hop and Sucker Punch, those numbers look positively heroic. Duncan Jones’s Jake Gyllenhaal sci-fi has now taken a robust £2.99m in 10 days, while the Bradley Cooper thriller has posted an even more impressive £5.74m in 19 days, confirming The Hangover star’s status as a leading man capable of opening a movie. Also doing better than expected is Adam Deacon’s urban comedy Anuvahood, with a nifty £1.88m so far, clearly on course for a lifetime total of four times its opening weekend – considered a good multiple for this traditionally front-loaded genre.
The big faller
Plenty of films are plummeting down the chart, but notable among them is Killing Bono, based on the comic memoir of Neil McCormick. Shedding two thirds of its initial extravagant rollout of 253 cinemas, the Nick Hamm-directed flick collapsed by 81%, and is surely set to suffer another brutal purge of screens and showtimes this weekend.
The niche hit
Although the current market lacks a major new arthouse hit (Submarine at number 15, Cave of Forgotten Dreams at 19 and Oranges and Sunshine at 23 are the sector’s brightest spots), Bollywood flick Thank You is thriving in limited release. Its opening gross of £160,000 is hardly stellar for the genre, but in today’s depressed climate that’s good enough to earn seventh place, and its screen average of £2,967 is the highest of any film on release. The Akshay Kumar comedy also earns the distinction of achieving the weekend’s top engagement (Cineworld Feltham), and also its fifth (Cineworld Ilford). Overall, the top engagement chart is dominated by Rio, with 21 of the top 30 and 51 of the top 100. The indie sector is flat, with best results coming from Source Code at the Electric Notting Hill and Hampstead Everyman, unless you count Sucker Punch at the BFI Imax.
For the sixth week in a row, the market lags significantly behind the equivalent frame from 2010, on this occasion by a troubling 46%. The exhibition sector has got some serious catching up to do, and hopes will be pinned on this week’s fresh crop, which include Scream 4, James Franco in Your Highness, Amanda Seyfried in Red Riding Hood and a new Winnie the Pooh from Disney. Cinema owners will be praying for dreary weather throughout the Easter holiday.
Top 10 films
1. Rio, £1,515,853 from 522 sites (New)
2. Source Code, £848,366 from 416 sites. Total: £2,990,826
3. Limitless, £737,417 from 394 sites. Total: £5,744,993
4. Hop, £611,367 from 499 sites. Total: £2,623,612
5. Sucker Punch, £346,399 from 392 sites. Total: £1,633,285
6. The Eagle £181,823 from 342 sites. Total: £2,504,508
7. Thank You, £160,191 from 54 sites (New)
8. Unknown, £135,025 from 207 sites. Total: £6,225,112
9. The Roommate, £120,365 from 227 sites (New)
10. Mars Needs Mums, £113,559 from 303 sites (New)
Tomorrow, When the War Began, 205 screens, £85,841
The Silent House, 11 screens, £8,539
Before the Revolution, three screens, £5,146 + £549 preview
Snap, six screens, £4,418
Urumi, five screens, £2,981
Armadillo, four screens, £2,213
Rubber, one screen, £829