'One Life'

Source: BFI London Film Festival

‘One Life’

James Hawes’ true-life drama One Life starring Anthony Hopkins has broken out at the international box office through FilmNation’s network of buyers, earning $26m and counting weeks before it opens in the US through Bleecker Street on March 15.

The biographical drama about Nicholas Winton, the UK stockbroker who saved the lives of 669 children in the former Czechoslovakia from the Nazis, is produced by UK-Australian outfit See-Saw Films. It made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)  in September 2023 and has gone on to open in key markets including the UK and Ireland, France, Italy, and Australia.

UK/Ireland is the biggest market to date.  Released by Warner Bros, One Life has grossed $12.5m (£9.8m) to date since opening on January 1. After eight weeks on release it is so far outpacing a slew of UK titles aimed at a similar older demographic, including Judy (£8.2m), Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris (£5m), and The Father (£2.1m).

According to FilmNation, One Life is being propelled by strong word of mouth, with midweek numbers driven by older audiences occasionally exceeding individual weekend day grosses.

One Life opened in France last weekend through SND where it was edged into second place by Paramount’s Bob Marley: One Love, and generated 358,692 admissions from 469 screens for $2.84m including previews. At time of writing it stood at more than $3.9m.

For comparison, films with similar ticket sales in France include John Wick: Chapter 4 (359,432 admissions), Elemental (359,869 admissions), and Killers Of The Flower Moon (328,176). 

In the Czech Republic, where the story is especially resonant , One Life has generated  $552,000 (CZK 12.6m)  four weekends since opening on February 1 through Vertical.

Surviving members of Nicky's Children attend the Czech premiere of 'One Life'

Source: Dana Liskova

Surviving members of Nicky’s Children attend the Czech premiere of ‘One Life’

Winton’s legacy 

As he did at TIFF and at the BFI London Film festival in October 2023, Hawes attended the Czech premiere and asked anyone who owed their life to Winton to stand up (pictured).

This replicates scenes in the film which themselves replicate an emotional episode of UK biographical TV show That’s Life in the late 1980s. An elderly Winton was surprised to share the audience with many grown-up “Nicky’s Children”, whose lives he saved from the Nazis as a young charity worker in Prague in 1938 when he arranged for them to be sent to the UK.

Surviving members of Nicky’s Children were involved with the production and some have given interviews and supported the film at various festivals.

In Australia One Life stands at $3.2m (A$ 4.7m) after nine weekends since it opened on December 26 through Transmission, surpassing the lifetime gross of The Courier (A$ 4.7m), The Duke (A$3.6m), The Father (A$ 3.1m), and Living (A$ 2.9m).

Italy has delivered $2.7m (€2.5m) since the December 21 opening weekend through Eagle, and One Life has passed The Banshees Of Inisherin (€2.2m), and The Father (€1.3m).

The drama opened in The Netherlands on January 4 through The Searchers and has reached $1.2m (€1.1m), already overtaking the lifetime tallies of The Duke (€913,000) and The Children Act (€798,000).

In New Zealand, where One Life opened at number three on December 26 through Transmission, the running total has reached $1.1m (NZ$ 1.7m), overtaking The Father (NZ$ 1.5m), Living (NZ$ 894,000), and The Duke (NZ$844,000).

The Benelux release has so far garnered $170,000 including previews since the February 21 number two release through The Searchers on 54 screens.

One Life’s total international box office includes secondary markets like Switzerland (Ascot Elite), South Africa (Filmfinity), Baltics (ACME), Greece (Spentzos Film), CIS (Exponenta), and Hungary (Vertical).

Coming up are Latin America through Sun, Scandinavia via Nordisk, Israel (Lev), Spain (Sun/Diamond), Germany (Square One), Poland (Vertical), and Japan (Kino).