Gurinder Chadha’s Bruce Springsteen-themed coming-of-age tale Blinded By The Light is hoping to emulate recent successful music-inspired titles when it opens through eOne at the UK box office this weekend.
Set in 1987 in Luton, Screen Star of Tomorrow 2019 Viveik Kalra leads the cast as aspiring writer Javed, who finds an escape from a disapproving father and a town overrun by skinheads through the music of Springsteen. It is inspired by journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s memoir Greetings From Bury Park.
The film is Chadha’s eighth feature; she began with Film4-backed Bhaji On The Beach, which opened to £20,519 and ended on a decent £309,715 in 1993.
Her highest gross in the territory was the £11.6m grossed by Bend It Like Beckham after a £2m opening in April 2002. With a worldwide gross of $76.6m (£63.1m), it is the highest-grossing football-themed film of all time.
Chadha has also had decent results with 2004’s Bride And Prejudice (opened: £1.7m, ended: £5.2m), 2008’s Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging (opened: £929,246, ended: £5.5m) and 2017’s Viceroy’s House (opened: £921,309, ended: £4.1m).
Blinded By The Light will take inspiration from the recent success of music-themed features. For comparison, Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born remake started on £4.1m last October, going on to an impressive £30.2m. Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody opened to £9.5m and ended on £55m – the fifth highest grossing title of 2018 – while Elton John story Rocketman recently closed out on £23.2m after a £5.3m start.
Cinemas could be helped by the poor weather forecast across much of the UK this weekend.
Long live the King
It’s a comparatively slow week for new films, leaving open the possibility of The Lion King holding top spot for a fourth week in a row.
It held off the £4.9m start of Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw last time out with a £5.2m Friday-Sunday session. With Disney stablemate Toy Story 4 in third on £1.4m, none of the other holdovers have a realistic chance of usurping the CGI remake.
For fourth weekend comparisons from the recent Disney output, Toy Story 4 made £3.8m; Aladdin held top spot for a fourth week with £2.9m; Dumbo took £927,804; while Mary Poppins Returns did £2.3m.
Disney classic remakes from the last few years Beauty And The Beast and The Jungle Book took £2.8m and £2.1m respectively on their fourth weekend sessions.
To stay ahead of those figures, The Lion King would need a drop of 26.3% or lower (or 44.1% or lower to beat all but Toy Story 4).
One of the new titles that will look to break into seven-figure territory is Studiocanal’s Playmobil, based on the popular German-founded children’s toy.
Playmobil has a U rating, to capitalise on the popularity of the toy amongst younger children. Other U-rated childrens’ titles in the UK this year include The Angry Birds Movie 2, which opened to a low £700,000 last weekend; The Secret Life Of Pets 2, which started with £3.5m in May and ended on £18.9m; Paw Patrol Mighty Pups (opened: £522,330, closed: £1.5m); Peppa Pig: Festival Of Fun (opened: £985,923, closed: £2.8m); and The LEGO Movie 2 (opened: £4m, closed: £18.7m).
Studiocanal also has drama Kings, Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s follow up to 2016 hit Mustang. Starring Daniel Craig and Halle Berry, Kings looks at the life of a foster family in South Central Los Angeles in the weeks before the verdict of the Rodney King trial and ensuing violence.
After a Directors’ Fortnight launch at Cannes 2015, Mustang started with £65,052 in May 2016, going on to £334,501.
With Disney recently clarifying its strategy for Fox’s development slate following its acquisition, the company continues with its UK releases for now with Simon Curtis’ dog drama The Art Of Racing In The Rain, about a golden retriever who bonds with his aspiring Formula One racing owner.
UK director Curtis most recently directed Goodbye Christopher Robin, which began with £781,086 in September 2017 and ended on £2.9m. His record gross in the territory is 2011’s My Week With Marilyn, which started with £749,819 and closed on £3.2m, plus two Oscar and six Bafta nominations the following year.
Warner Bros is releasing Ry Russo-Young’s The Sun Is Also A Star, about a hopeless romantic who falls for a woman who doesn’t believe in love.
With Yara Shahidi and Charles Melton from TV’s Black-ish and Riverdale in the lead roles, the film is aiming for a teen audience. Russo-Young has previously directed four features including Before I Fall and Nobody Walks, although none have received a UK release.
Wilcard Distribution has Garry Keane and Andrew McConnell’s documentary Gaza, about the lives of citizens in the self-governing Palestinian territory. It debuted at Sundance this year, and won two prizes at this year’s Dublin International Film Festival.
Three Asian films hit UK cinemas this weekend: Indian titles Jabariya Jodi and Nerkonda Paarvai through Zee Studios International, and Parey Hut Love from Pakistan through B4U Network.
Further titles include experimental documentary Stones Have Laws through ICA Films, and Mexican-set drama Opus Zero through New Wave.
BFI Distribution is releasing a 4K restoration of Alfred Hitchcox’s 1946 noir Notorious.
Alongside The Lion King, key holdovers are Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw, Toy Story 4 and Spider-Man: Far From Home.