UK box office report, July 31–August 2: Russell Crowe drives right past a lockdown record

Charles Gant
·5-min read
Russell Crowe in Unhinged
Russell Crowe in Unhinged

Unhinged delivers biggest hit since cinemas reopened

The UK and Ireland box office has been pretty becalmed since cinemas started reopening in early July, and what’s been missing – it turns out – is a road-raging Russell Crowe. The Antipodean actor’s violent thriller Unhinged is the first title to open in six figures since lockdown. The release from indie distributor Altitude has begun with £175,000 from 243 cinemas for the July 31 - August 2 weekend, which compares with the previous weekend when top title Onward grossed £60,100.

Unhinged helped the UK and Ireland market to a total of £838,000, with 326 cinemas reporting to data gatherer Comscore. That compares with £644,000 for the previous weekend, and thus a rise of 30 per cent. Unhinged was helped by the reopening last Friday (July 31) of more cinemas, notably from the Cineworld and Picturehouse chains. Vue follows suit this Friday (August 7).

There are 959 cinemas in the UK and Ireland, so just over a third of venues are currently open. In 2019, average weekend takings for UK and Ireland were £15.4m, which means that the weekend achieved 5.4 per cent of 2019 box office levels. Numbers are likely to remain relatively modest until Christopher Nolan’s Tenet arrives on August 26 (touch wood).

Globally, Unhinged achieved Number 1 openings in 11 markets, with notable success in Australia and New Zealand. The film benefited from an earlier release in Germany, where it has topped the chart for three weeks in a row.

100% Wolf, The Vigil and Proxima land in the Top 10

Since cinemas reopened, the UK box office chart has been dominated by mature and archive titles, and new hits have been thin on the ground. The latest weekend chart brings a welcome refresh, with four new titles in the Top 10: Unhinged, animation 100% Wolf, indie horror The Vigil and arthouse drama Proxima.

In pre-Covid times, the likes of 100% Wolf do not suggest themselves as credible contenders for a Top 10 placing, but the lack of competition helped the animation land in third place, with £33,100 from 146 cinemas. The Vigil is from prolific genre specialist Blumhouse (hits include Get Out), but comes at what appears to be the lower budgetary end of the indie studio’s output.

Eva Green in Proxima
Eva Green in Proxima

Robust previews of £19,100 helped Vigil achieve its Top 10 placing, with combined box office of £30,300 from 97 sites. Proxima stars Eva Green and Matt Dillon as astronauts training for a mission to the International Space Station, and comes from French writer-director Alice Winocour (Disorder, 2015). Picturehouse Entertainment timed the release to coincide with the reopening of its own cinemas, grossing £21,500 from 135 venues for the weekend and £30,100 including previews.

British indie Summerland – starring Gemma Arterton and Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and set in a Kent coastal community during the Second World War – landed in 13th place, with £15,800 from 94 cinemas. It’s worth remarking that its total for the weekend period was actually higher than the weekend number achieved by The Vigil.

Drive-ins boost total numbers

Since July 3, UK and Ireland cinemas have grossed a total of £4.35m, reports Comscore. While that’s an unimpressive sum relative to pre-Covid business, the number might have been a whole lot worse were it not for the flourishing drive-in market. For example, the Secret Cinema Drive-In has released numbers for its activity so far, beginning July 5.

After four weeks, the event at Goodwood in West Sussex has generated 4,508 tickets sold (one ticket per vehicle), and total box office of £219,000. That is just over 5 per cent of the total box office generated at all cinemas, including drive-ins, since July 3 in UK and Ireland. Secret Cinema has extended its run until August 31.

The Luna drive-in cinema at Knebworth -  Jason Alden
The Luna drive-in cinema at Knebworth - Jason Alden

Competitors include The Drive In at Troubadour Meridian Water, Edmonton, London N18, and Luna Drive In at several venues across the UK including Warwick Castle, Tatton Park Manchester and West London’s Gunnersbury Park.

The future

Not too long ago, cinema operators had been eagerly awaiting the arrival of Tenet on August 12 and Disney’s live-action Mulan on August 19. Tenet has now slipped back by two weeks, while Mulan has shifted to a date to be confirmed.

A relatively recent addition to the UK release calendar for this Friday (August 7) is An American Pickle, starring Seth Rogen as an immigrant pickle-factory worker who falls into a vast vat, is preserved in brine, and wakes up 100 years later in modern-day Brooklyn, having not aged a day. There he meets with his great-grandson (also Rogen), a mild-mannered computer programmer, and struggles to relate to his life choices.

Competitor titles include arthouse releases Papicha and Perfect 10 – but Rogen’s real competition is more likely to come from Unhinged and the other titles already on release.

Top 10 films, July 31 – August 2

  1. Unhinged, £175,263 from 243 sites (new)

  2. Onward, £58,951 from 239 sites. Total: £5,663,247 (22 weeks)

  3. 100% Wolf, £33,130 from 146 sites (new)

  4. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, £31,137 from 157 sites. Total: £7,402,546 (1997 rerelease)

  5. The Vigil, £30,302 from 97 sites (new)

  6. Proxima, £30,051 from 135 sites (new)

  7. Dreambuilders, £24,476 from 148 sites. Total: £97,950 (3 weeks)

  8. The Dark Knight, £24,075 from 130 sites. Total: £49,170,441 (2008 release)

  9. Jurassic Park, £22,987 from 40 sites. Reissue total: £61,842 (5 weeks)

  10. Trolls World Tour £21,071 from 125 sites. Total: £239,239 (17 weeks)

Other openers

  • Summerland, £15,792 from 94 sites

  • Parasite: Black & White Edition, £8,546 from 66 sites

  • Make Up, £8,238 from 8 sites

  • Flash Gordon 40th Anniversary Restoration, £5,816 from 42 sites

  • The Fairy Princess & The Unicorn, £5,373 from 81 sites

Thanks to Comscore (@cSMoviesUK). All figures relate to takings in UK and Ireland cinemas