Source: Universal

‘Monkey Man’

Dev Patel’s feature directorial debut Monkey Man leads the new films at this weekend’s UK-Ireland box office, starting in 592 cinemas through Universal.

Directed, produced, from a story by and starring Patel, Monkey Man follows an anonymous young man who unleashes a campaign of violence against the corrupt leaders who murdered his mother, and continue to systematically victimise the poor and powerless.

Filmed in early 2021, Netflix originally bought worldwide rights to Monkey Man. After Jordan Peele boarded the title as producer through his Monkeypaw Productions, Universal acquired it from Netflix earlier this year. It debuted at SXSW last month.

Patel began acting in 2006 with E4 TV drama Skins, with contemporaries including Nicholas Hoult and Daniel Kaluuya. Named a Screen Star of Tomorrow in 2008, he broke out internationally that year playing the lead in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, which opened to £1.8m and ended on a huge £31.6m.

Subsequent roles have included 2011’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (£20.4m) and its 2015 sequel (£16m); 2016’s Lion (£11.9m), for which he won the Bafta and was nominated for the Oscar for best supporting actor; and 2019’s The Personal History Of David Copperfield (£6.4m), for which he received nominations at the Bifas and Golden Globes.

Peele’s Monkeypaw has theatrical pedigree through the director’s own Get Out  (£10.5m), Us (£10.1m) and Nope (£8m), plus Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman  (£6.5m) and Nia DaCosta’s Candyman  (£5.2m).

Disney is starting horror The First Omen, a debut feature for US filmmaker Arkasha Stevenson, in 472 sites. Nell Tiger Free, Tawfeek Barhom, Sonia Braga, Ralph Ineson and Bill Nighy star in the story of an American woman sent to work at a church in Rome, who uncovers a sinister conspiracy to bring about the birth of the Antichrist.

The film is a prequel to Richard Donner’s 1976 The Omen, the sixth film in the franchise overall, and the first since 2006’s The Omen, which made £4.4m.

Seize the day

Curtis Vowell’s historical comedy Seize Them! opens in 375 sites through Entertainment Film Distributors, which also financed the title.

seize them

Source: EFD

‘Seize Them!’

Set in the Dark Ages in Britain, it sees Queen Dagan become a fugitive in her own land, and embark on a voyage to win back her throne. Aimee Lou Wood, Nicola Coughlan, James Acaster, Nick Frost, Lolly Adefope, Paul Kaye and Jessica Hynes lead a cast of UK comedy regulars.

It is a third feature for New Zealand filmmaker Vowell, after 2013’s Fantail and 2020’s Baby Done; producers are Damian Jones and Matthew James Wilkinson.

Modern Films is starting Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Evil Does Not Exist, winner of the Grand Jury Prize in competition at Venice 2023, in 55 cinemas. Written by Hamaguchi from an idea by himself and Eiko Ishibashi, the film centres on inhabitants of a village who become aware of a plan to build a camping site near where they live.

The film has been on an extensive festival tour since its Lido launch, playing Toronto, Vancouver, New York, Sao Paolo, Singapore, Rotterdam and Vilnius film festivals among others. It won best film in the official competition at BFI London Film Festival in October, and best film at the Asian Film Awards this year.

Parkland Entertainment is starting Matt Winn’s UK comedy The Trouble With Jessica, starring Shirley Henderson, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams, Indira Varma and Alan Tudyk, on 100 screens; while Altitude has Matteo Garrone’s Oscar-nomianted Io Capitano, a drama about two boys travelling from Senegal to reach Europe, in 73 cinemas.

Sony is starting Chinese sports comedy Yolo in 75 cinemas; while Andrew Gallimore’s boxing documentary One Night In Millstreet plays in 20 sites through Wildcard Distribution.

Back catalogue titles this weekend include Disney’s latest theatrical release of films that went online during the pandemic, with animation Luca in 585 sites on limited shows. Park Circus is playing Elia Kazan’s 1954 classic On The Waterfront, winner of eight Oscars including best actor for Marlon Brando, in 24 sites this week.

Warner Bros’ Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire and Universal’s Kung Fu Panda 4 will continue to do battle atop the chart, with space also for Sony’s Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire and Warner Bros’ Dune: Part Two among the holdovers.