Source: Studiocanal

‘Back To Black’

Amy Winehouse biopic Back To Black sets a new widest UK-Ireland opening record for Studiocanal, starting its run in 719 sites.

The film beats the distributor’s previous record – February release Wicked Little Letters – by 33 venues. It is also the widest opening of the year, beating Warner Bros’ Dune: Part Two by two sites.

Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson from a script by Matt Greenhalgh, Back To Black depicts the life of music icon Winehouse, from her early career through her turbulent relationship with Blake Fielder-Civil, and her creation of seminal 2006 album Back To Black.

The film stars 2023 Screen Star of Tomorrow Marisa Abela as Winehouse, alongside Jack O’Connell as Fielder-Civil, Eddie Marsan as Amy’s father Mitch, and Lesley Manville as her grandmother Cynthia. 

It is Taylor-Johnson’s second music biopic from four feature films, after her 2009 debut feature Nowhere Boy, which opened to £148,833 and finished on £1.4m.

That film was also written by Greenhalgh, who had previously written 2007’s Control, about Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, which opened to £252,426 and ended on £1.2m.

The wide release combined with Winehouse’s enduring status as a musician and celebrity will ensure a higher total for Back To Black. It remains to be seen whether it can approach the heights of recent music biopics Bohemian Rhapsody (opened: £9.5m; closed: £55.4m) from 2018 about Freddie Mercury and Queen, or Rocketman (£5.3m; £23.5m) from 2019 about Elton John.

More recently, Paramount’s Bob Marley: One Love is up to £17m from eight weekends and is still in cinemas.

Back To Black is the second major feature film about Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 aged 27. Asif Kapadia’s documentary Amy opened to £523,192 and grossed £3.8m through Altitude in 2015, as well as winning the Oscar and Bafta for best documentary.

Taylor Johnson scored a box office hit with her second feature, 2015’s Fifty Shades Of Grey (£35.1m total).

War breaks out

Entertainment Film Distributors is opening Alex Garland’s Civil War, set in a dystopian United States of America where a team of journalists race to reach Washington DC before rebel factions descend upon the White House.

Civil War

Source: SXSW

‘Civil War’

The film premiered at SXSW last month, and stars Nick Offerman, Kirsten Dunst, Cailee Spaeny, Wagner Moura and Stephen McKinley Henderson.

It is a fourth feature as director for UK filmmaker Garland, who wrote the novel on which Danny Boyle’s 2000 The Beach was based, then wrote the scripts for Boyle’s 28 Days Later and Sunshine

His first directorial effort was 2014’s Ex Machina (£2.9m total), for which he was Oscar-nominated for best original screenplay; while he has subsequently directed 2018 adventure horror Annihilation and 2022’s Men

Indian titles continue to make their mark at UK-Ireland cinemas, with Yash Raj Films’ action thriller Bade Miyan Chote Miyan one of the widest new titles of the weekend in 217 sites.

The Hindi-language title stars Indian icons Akshay Kumar, Tiger Shroff and Prithviraj Sukumaran. Translating as ‘Big Master, Little Master’, it follows two soldiers who team up to recover a stolen weapon from a masked madman who wants to destroy India.

The film took £50,337 from previews on Wednesday, April 10.

Also in cinemas from India this weekend is Zee Studios’ Maidaan, the story of Syed Abdul Rahim, Indian national football team manager.

Arthouse favourites

Curzon is starting Ilker Catak’s German drama The Teachers’ Lounge in 37 sites. A Berlinale Panorama premiere from last year, it was Oscar-nominated for best international feature film, as well as winning five prizes at last year’s German Film Awards including outstanding feature film and best director for Catak.

The film follows a teacher who decides to get to the bottom of the matter when one of her students is suspected of theft.

MetFilm Distribution is opening Milad Alami’s Opponent, also a Panorama 2023 selection, in 10 sites; while New Wave Films has Victor Erice’s Spanish-Argentine drama Close Your Eyes also in 10 cinemas.

Emma Westenberg’s Bleeding Love (previously You Sing Loud, I Sing Louder), starring father-daughter duo Ewan and Clara McGregor, starts through Icon Film Distribution; while Cody Hartman’s US title Unsinkable, an enquiry into the 1912 sinking of the RMS Titanic, starts in 22 cinemas, distributed independently.

Park Circus is conducting its latest repertory release, opening Lynne Ramsay’s Bifa- and Bafta-winning 1999 title Ratcatcher in 13 sites.

Despite the wide spread for Back To Black, there will be space for holdovers including Universal’s Kung Fu Panda 4 and Warner Bros’ Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, which have exchanged blows atop the chart in the past fortnight; and Sony’s Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, also a former number one.