wicked ll

Source: Studiocanal

‘Wicked Little Letters’

Independent titles lead the openers at this weekend’s UK-Ireland box office, with Thea Sharrock’s comedy Wicked Little Letters starting in 685 sites through Studiocanal.

Written by Jonny Sweet and based on a true scandal from 1920s England, Wicked Little Letters centres on an English seaside town targeted by a series of obscene letters, that are investigated by a group of women from the area.

Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley lead the cast, that also includes Anjana Vasan, Malachi Kirby and Timothy Spall. Buckley, Vasan and Kirby were named Screen Stars of Tomorrow in 2017, 2021 and 2013.

It is the third feature from UK filmmaker Sharrock, after 2016’s Me Before You, which opened to £1.8m, ending on a strong £9.7m. She subsequently directed adventure comedy The One and Only Ivan, co-written by The White Lotus  creator Mike White and produced by Angelina Jolie, which launched on Disney+ in 2020 and was nominated for best visual effects at the 2021 Oscars.

Wicked Little Letters is produced by All Of Us Strangers and The Banshees Of Inisherin producers Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin of Blueprint Pictures; alongside Jo Wallett; and Colman, making her feature debut as a producer.

The film debuted as a Special Presentation at Toronto in September last year.

Sony is starting Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Hashira Training in 401 cinemas. It is the third film in the Demon Slayer series, which is spun-off from the anime television series of the same name. The film acts as a compliation film to the television series, incorporating footage from the third and fourth seasons.

The plot sees Tanjiro Kamado undergo rigorous training with Gyoemi Himejima, in his quest to become a Hashira (demon slayer).

Demon Slayer: Mugen Train opened to £693,288 in May 2021, ending on £1.2m; while sequel Kimetsu No Yaiba – To The Swordsmith Village started with £567,638 in March 2023, finishing on £640,502.

Darkness falls

Signature Entertainment is starting Andrew Cumming’s horror Out Of Darkness. The film is written by Ruth Greenberg, from a story by Cumming and Oliver Kassman, who also produces.

out of darkness

Source: Signature Entertainment

‘Out Of Darkness’

Set in the Old Stone Age, Out Of Darkness – formerly The Origin – follows a disparate gang of early humans in search of a new land, who suspect a malevolent mystical being is hunting them down.

It debuted at BFI London Film Festival in October 2022, going on to play Sitges and Glasgow. It was nominated for five British Independent Film Awards in 2022, winning breakthrough performance for Safia Oakley-Green.

Scottish filmmaker Cumming was named a Screen Star of Tomorrow in 2021; as was Greenberg in 2022; and casting director Heather Basten in 2021. Producer Kassman is building a strong portfolio through his UK firm Escape Plan productions, having also produced Rose Glass’ 2019 Saint Maud and recent Sundance and Berlin title Love Lies Bleeding.

Mubi is starting Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days  in 69 cinemas. The 23rd feature from legendary German director Wenders centres on a Japanese janitor who drives between jobs listening to rock music. A classic rock soundtrack includes songs by The Animals, Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, Ray Davies and The Kinks, Van Morrison, Nina Simone, Patti Smith and the Rolling Stones.

It is nominated for best international film for Japan at the 2024 Oscars – Wenders’ fourth nomination at the ceremony, after best documentary nominations for Buena Vista Social Club in 2000, Pina in 2012 and The Salt of the Earth in 2015.

Perfect Days debuted in Competition at Cannes 2023, winning the best actor prize for Koji Yakusho; subsequent festivals have included Sydney, Telluride, New York, Toronto, London and Rio.

Bohemia Media and Miracle Comms are partnering on a 60-site release for Michel Franco’s Memory. A Venice 2023 Competition premiere where Peter Sarsgaard won the Volpi Cup for best actor, it follows a social worker – played by Jessica Chastain – whose simple life is blown open when a surprise encounter at her high school reunion opens a door to the past.

It is the eighth film from Mexican director Franco, whose record gross to date in the UK and Ireland is 2015’s Chronic with £33,774.

Vertigo Films is opening Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego’s thriller American Star, following an assassin on a final assignment in Fuerteventura, who is drawn to the island and a ghostly shipwreck. Mike Elliott produces for the UK’s Emu Films, with Deadwood star Ian McShane who also leads the cast.

Further independent titles include Michael Winterbottom’s Palestine-set thriller Shoshana through Altitude; Everardo Gonzalez’s documentary A Wolfpack Called Ernesto through Sovereign Films; Indian election drama Political War through Reliance Entertainment; and Kim-Wai Yuen’s Hong Kong crime drama The Moon Thieves in 40 sites through Central City Media.

Re-releases this weekend include a 21st -anniversary rollout of Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund’s City Of God through The Festival Agency; and Monty Python And The Holy Grail 48th  ½ Anniversary in 300 sites through Graft Entertainment, following a 218-site event cinema release on Wednesday 21.

Netflix, which does not share site numbers, is playing Adam Sandler drama Spaceman, following its world premiere at the Berlinale this week.

Holdovers will likely hold sway for another weekend before the release of Dune: Part Two on Friday, March 1. Paramount’s Bob Marley: One Love made a decent £4.2m start last time out; while Universal’s Migration is going strong with £13.6m from three weekends.