Studiocanal’s revenge thriller Cold Pursuit will aim to weather the storm of recent controversy around star Liam Neeson to challenge a selection of family titles at the UK box office this weekend.
In the film, Neeson plays a snowplough driver who seeks revenge against the drug dealers he believes killed his son. Hans Petter Moland directs, with the film based on his 2014 Norwegian title In Order Of Disappearance.
Neeson has fronted a string of box office hits in recent years, led by the Taken series. The first title started with £1.2m in September 2008, finishing on £6.4m. It was then far surpassed by the sequels – Taken 2 started with £7.4m and ended on £23.5m in 2012, while Taken 3 began with £6.7m and ended on £17.8m in 2015.
Lower-grossing Neeson action titles have included 2011’s Unknown (opened: £1.4m, finished: £6.6m) and The Grey (opened: £1.1m, finished £3.2m); 2015’s Run All Night (opened: £827,408, finished: £2.2m); and 2018’s The Commuter (opened: £1.6m, finished £4m).
Earlier this month, the actor provoked controversy with remarks made in an intervew with UK national the Independent, which led to US distributor Lionsgate cancelling the red carpet at the film’s New York premiere.
Elsewhere, several key holdovers are expected to benefit from the final days of the UK schools half-term holiday. The LEGO Movie 2 will look to hold top spot and build on its £7.4m after two weekends. The first title, 2014’s The LEGO Movie, made £3.3m on its third weekend, taking it to £26.7m by that point.
Paramount comedy Instant Family will look to challenge for first place after a £2.5m opening.
Universal animation How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World is still in the mix heading into its fourth weekend, sitting on £11.5m after three sessions. The second title in the series recorded a £1.9m fourth weekend, as part of a £12.9m cume at that point.
The Kid Who Would Be King had a disappointing start, making £665,491 including previews, but will also look for a bump in its second session from the half-term family crowd.
eOne will open Mimi Leder’s On The Basis Of Sex, the story of US Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in 452 cinemas this weekend. 2007 Screen Star of Tomorrow Felicity Jones plays Ginsburg, opposite Armie Hammer as her husband Martin.
Jones’ stand-out box office title was 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which made an impressive £66m after a £17.3m debut.
She has also had key roles in 2016’s A Monster Calls (opened: £1.9m, finished: £2.9m) and 2015’s The Theory Of Everything (opened: £3.7m, finished: £21.7m), for which she was nominated for best actress at the Oscars.
From this year’s Oscar crop, Picturehouse is launching best foreign language film nominee Capernaum in 48 venues. Nadine Labaki’s Lebanon-set drama premiered to strong reviews at Cannes last year, where it won the Competition jury prize.
20th Century Fox is opening Bollywood adventure comedy Total Dhamaal, the third title in the Dhamaal series. Dhamaal opened to £107,118 in 2007 and ended on £229,081, while sequel Double Dhamaal did slightly better in 2011, beginning with £127,337 and ending on £301,503.
Verve Pictures has Toby MacDonald’s comedy Old Boys led by Screen Star of Tomorrow 2015 Alex Lawther. It is the first of six titles Verve is releasing through its non-profit first feature distribution support scheme, which was backed by a £135,000 BFI Audience Fund award in September 2018.
MusicFilmNetwork will distribute documentary Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me, about the US soul singer in 1960s America, in select locations.
Alongside the half-term hopefuls, other holdovers include Alita: Battle Angel and Green Book.