panda godzilla

Source: Universal / Warner Bros

‘Kung Fu Panda 4’, ‘Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire’

Franchise animation Kung Fu Panda 4 and creature clash Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire lead a bumper weekend of 16 new films at the UK-Ireland box office.

Universal’s Kung Fu Panda 4 has the biggest opening of the weekend in 715 sites – a significant jump for the DreamWorks Animation series, after 2008’s Kung Fu Panda (448) and sequels in 2011 (514) and 2016 (585), all distributed through Paramount.

Conversely, the total grosses of each film have dropped, with the first title making £20.4m, followed by £17m and £14.2m for the sequels. All of these were pre-pandemic; number four will look to cross the £10m mark before challenging any of those totals.

The biggest opening of the series was for Kung Fu Panda 2, with £6.5m.

Directed by Mike Mitchell and Stephanie Stine, the new film sees panda Po become spiritual leader of the valley of peace; only for a wicked sorceress to re-summon all the master villains he has previously vanquished. 

Jack Black returns to voice the lead panda; with Awkwafina, Viola Davis, Dustin Hoffman, Bryan Cranston and Ke Huy Quan also among the voice cast.

Warner Bros is starting monster movie Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire in 607 cinemas. The film is directed by Adam Wingard, who also directed 2021’s Godzilla vs. Kong, which took £2.7m in a marketplace only just reopening after the pandemic.

The New Empire sees the titular titans clash in battle as humans unravel their intertwined origins and connection to Skull Island’s mysteries.

Reptilian monster Godzilla is an enduring box office draw, having debuted in the eponymous 1954 film by Ishiro Honda, and featuring in many big-screen adaptations through to last year’s Japanese title Godzilla Minus One, which took £2.6m at UK-Ireland cinemas through Anime Ltd and won the Oscar for best visual effects.

Giant ape King Kong has a comparably long list of credits, starting with 1933’s King Kong from Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, and running through to 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, which took a strong £15.9m in the UK and Ireland.

Mothers’ know best

Studiocanal’s Mothers’ Instinct heads into its first weekend in 464 sites, having opened for previews on Wednesday, March 27.

Mothers' Instinct

Source: Studio Canal

‘Mothers’ Instinct’

The debut feature of French cinematographer Benoit Delhomme, Mothers’ Instinct is adapted by Barbara Abel’s novel by Sarah Conradt, and stars Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain in a thriller about two women whose perfect lives are shattered by a tragic accident.

Delhomme’s credits as cinematographer include 2022’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, 2018’s At Eternity’s Gate and 2014’s The Theory Of Everything.

Trafalgar Releasing is distributing Leigh Brooks’ music documentary Hate To Love: Nickelback in 75 UK sites, after an event cinema release on Wednesday 27. First launched at Toronto International Film Festival last year, the film traces the journey of the Canadian rock group from rural Alberta to becoming one of the most successful yet divisive bands of the 21st century. 

Independent titles out this weekend include Berlinale 2023 title Disco Boy starring Franz Rogowski, in 22 sites through Conic; Ryuichi Sakamoto | Opus, in 28 sites through Modern Films, with Thursday (March 28) marking the first anniversary of the Japanese composer’s death; Sacha Polak’s Silver Haze, starring 2019 Screen Star of Tomorrow Vicky Knight and inspired by Knight’s own story, in 12 sites through BFI Distribution; Sebastien Marnier’s thriller The Origin Of Evil on 21 screens through Blue Finch; and Anthony Chen’s Drift starring Cynthia Erivo in 25 sites through MetFilm.

International titles include Sean Price William’s US drama The Sweet East in nine sites through Utopia Distribution, with more than double that number added throughout April; Berry Ho’s Hong Kong drama We 12 in 33 cinemas across its first week through Trinity Film; and a one-site release at the ICA Cinema of Susana Nobre’s Berlinale 2023 drama Cidade Rabat.

Mary Poppins returns to UK-Ireland cinemas for its 60th anniversary in 232 sites including all major chains, through Park Circus; while families may also be drawn to Mexican animation Little Eggs: A Frozen Rescue, in 322 sites through Miracle/Dazzler. Studiocanal has Charles Crichton’s 1951 crime comedy The Lavender Hill Mob in 26 sites.

A packed slate will squeeze out several holdovers; however there will still be space for last weekend’s number one Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, plus former chart-topper Dune: Part Two and Sydney Sweeney vehicle Immaculate.