They might not be doing Marvel numbers, but there’s a growing band of smaller films helping prop up the UK cinema box office in 2022.
There’s little getting around the fact that the UK box office charts of early 2022 have been dominated by blockbuster films. As frustrating as it may be in some quarters that the chat feels very superhero-y too when it comes to sizeable films, there’s little denying they’re dragging people to multiplexes.
But still, it’d be remiss to suggest that there are no other successes in the midst of the Doctor Stranges and Spider-Mans. And over the weekend at the UK box office, another one sprung up. The breakout hit of the year in the US – the mind-bending delight Everything Everywhere All At Once –sits in second place, with nearly £2m banked. That’s, granted, less than 10% of Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness’ takings, but they’re different scale films. One was made to the budget of a small country’s economy, with a marketing tally to match. The other is a word of mouth sensation. It should comfortably cross £5m in the UK by the end of its run, and that’s a smashing amount of money for an independent and/or smaller movie.
But scroll down the box office figures, and it’s absolutely not alone. For beneath the discourse of the state of cinema, a collection of films have been quietly attracting decent audiences.
Take Operation Mincemeat, a World War II-story seemingly undercut by playing in Netflix everywhere else in the world. Yet the Colin Firth-headlined drama has eaten up over £5m in takings in Britain, and is closing in on the Jared Leto-headlined superhero film Morbius too.
Elsewhere, The Phantom Of The Open may have fallen short of what was hoped for, but it’s snagged nearly £2m too. The Duke, meanwhile – a film whose release was delayed by some five months due to you know what – has now grossed over £5m, and should be a comfortable hit on home formats when it lands next month.
These are the kind of films that are important. That they tend to attract a broader audience to cinema, and it’s a crowd that’s not been brilliantly served of late (although Downton Abbey: A New Era is packing them in, with £12m in the bank already).
The release roster is light on big films this summer, a holdover from the fact that few of them could shoot back in 2020 when they would have needed to. But maybe there’s some olive branches for independent film here, and movies that skew away from the zeitgeist. The box office figures suggest there’s appetite at least…