In the UK, there were spectacular results for studio fare such as Minions, as well as indie titles like Amy and 45 Years.
Leading the charge at the UK box office this summer was Jurassic World, as Universal continued its banner year by dominating the period between May 1 and September 3.
Landing with the distributor’s biggest ever UK opening of £19.4m, Jurassic World roared its way to £64.1m and became the eighth biggest film of all time in the territory, while laying down a marker to Spectre and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. The opening alone surpassed the efforts of previous instalment Jurassic Park III, which wheezed its way to £18.3m in 2001.
Niels Swinkels, executive vice-president of international distribution at Universal, credits the film’s success to its “all-audience” appeal and the deliberate creative choice to remind audiences of Steven Spielberg’s game-changing 1993 original: “Jurassic World is both a homage to and celebration of the original Jurassic Park, as well as a fresh start for the franchise,” he says.
As in the US, Jurassic World wasn’t the only success story for Universal this summer. The distributor also provided the second biggest film of the period, with animated spin-off Minions achieving a £45.8m summer performance (£46.2m to date), after setting the biggest ever three-day opening for an animation at £11.6m.
Like Universal’s domination of the box office this summer, the Minions were everywhere. “We were able to mount a release strategy that included an unprecedented number of promotional and licensed partners,” says Swinkels. “The timing and momentum of the omnipresent campaign helped open Minions to record-breaking numbers.”
Universal didn’t have it all its own way as Ted 2 struggled — a £10m total tally just about scraped past Ted’s £9.3m opening (and was a better showing for the sequel than in most territories), but the distributor can console itself with several records. As a result of the earlier successes of Fifty Shades Of Grey and Furious 7, Universal became the first distributor in the UK to have four £30m hits in a calendar year, and to open four films over £10m in a calendar year.
The nearest challenger to Universal’s dominance was Disney. Despite opening on April 24, Avengers: Age Of Ultron was the fourth biggest performer over the summer period, taking £24.6m of its final £48.3m; a strong run even if it fell short of Avengers Assemble’s £51.9m result in 2012.
But the real star for Disney was Inside Out; with £35.3m, it became the fourth biggest original animation of all time. The critically acclaimed Pixar outing is the second biggest original animation in the UK.
Tom Batchelor, director of theatrical sales at Disney UK, believes Pixar’s brand equity made Inside Out stand out in a summer of returning franchises. “Pixar has been so consistent with the quality of its output that the launch of a new film can create as much buzz as the launch of a highly anticipated sequel,” says Batchelor. “We positioned it in a corridor that allowed it to sit as the prominent family title across the main summer holiday.”
Overall, the summer period grossed £435.6m, up almost 10% on last year’s haul of £398.4m, with each month apart from August also up on 2014. It’s a similar situation with admissions and, though August’s admissions are still to be confirmed, estimates put 2015 takings for the month down about 16% on last year, when The Inbetweeners 2 and Guardians Of The Galaxy both enjoyed successful runs.
Last summer, many chalked the below-par summer down to a lack of notable titles combined with a major sporting event in the World Cup.
The opposite of that this year meant that there was success wherever you looked, with each of the six major studios having at least one film in the top 20 performers of the summer. Most notably, Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation became the biggest entrant of the franchise and the first outing to cross £20m.
Success didn’t just come to the studios though. Asif Kapadia’s well-received Amy opened with the biggest debut for a British documentary with £523k, before going on an excellent run to end up as the second highest grossing non-concert documentary of all time with £3.7m.
“We decided to release Amy in the summer to play as a counterpoint to the common perception of summer being exclusively for popcorn movies,” explains Hamish Moseley, head of distribution at Altitude. “To that end, we made sure that every decision taken positioned the film as a mainstream event, one that simply must be seen in the cinema with a crowd.”
Curzon Artificial Eye’s 45 Years also got in on the act as the summer drew to a close, opening with an auspicious £331k and going on to become the first ever day-and-date release to hit £1m at the UK box office. September also saw another record set as StudioCanal enjoyed its biggest ever opening with Krays biopic Legend, its £5.19m bow also marking the biggest September opening ever.
With big hitters to come in Sony’s Spectre, Disney’s Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2 and the second Pixar effort of 2015 in The Good Dinosaur, the UK box office shows little sign of abating as we enter the final quarter of 2015.
The summer belonged to Universal but other distributors are ready to take centre stage.
UK Summer 2015 Top 10
(May 1-Sept 3)
|1. Jurassic World||Universal||June 12||£19.4m||£64.1m|
|2. Minions||Universal||June 26||£11.6m||£45.8m|
|3. Inside Out||Disney||July 24||£7.4m||£35.3m|
|4. Avengers: Age of Ultron||Disney||April 24||£18m||£24.6m|
|5. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation||Paramount||July 31||£5.4m||£19.5m|
|6. Pitch Perfect 2||Universal||May 15||£5m||£17.39m|
|7. Mad Max: Fury Road||Warner Bros||May 15||£4.5m||£17.38m|
|8. Ant-Man||Disney||July 17||£4m||£16.2m|
|9. San Andreas||Warner Bros||May 29||£4.6m||£11.5m|
|10. Terminator: Genisys||Paramount||July 3||£3.8m||£11.1m|