Tara Brady on the idiosyncrasies of the Irish box office
Our American chums survive killer heatwaves by taking refuge in multiplexes, where the AC is always turned up to an Arctic 11. That’s how summer blockbusters came to be summer blockbusters. But in the UK and Ireland, heatwaves are a comparative rarity. And so the year’s must muscular titles must do battle with the lure of the beach and the call of the garden centre. Oh . . . and the football. 22 Jump Street is the reigning box office champ both here and in the US, where it debuted with $57.1 million last weekend. Jump certainly has no competitor here.
Following on from last week’s crazy counter-programming burst, this week’s 10(!) new releases had best beware. Smaller alt.titles all tanked last weekend: The Young and Prodigious TS Spivet opened to a paltry €484; Icelandic dramedy Of Horses and Men fared even worse with €224.
Higher profile titles struggled: in the case of Devil’s Knot, the lack of an Irish press show and dreadful Stateside notices hastened the film toward a disastrous €14,581 from 21 locations.
Oculus sounded like a better bet: the film has received universally positive notices and is fronted by such popular TV ladies as Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan and Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff. Sadly, the gap between the film’s US launch (in April) and the UK opening ensured the title was already “available” for global lawbreakers. Oculus scored just over ¤37,000 from 54 sites.
The utterly dismal faith drama Heaven Is for Real opened on 29 prints here, to the bafflement of regular industry watchers and anyone who knows anything about exhibition. Or business. Or film. The Christian-themed picture finished with €8,363.
Meanwhile, the folks at 20th Century Fox took on the World Cup with not one but two girlie pictures. The Food Guide to Love profited little from its counterprogramming strategy: the film peaked at No 21 in the ROI chart, earning just €1,618from two locations. The sumptuous period drama Belle fared better, taking home €15,277from 11 prints.
Where have all the theoretical football widows gone? Maybe it’s time for distributors to stop thinking in terms of Victorian gender stereotypes.
But not just yet. Hang on to your hats for the incoming nonstop hen party that is Walking on Sunshine. And stay tuned this weekend for The Fault in Our Stars. John Green’s dying young weepie has reigned over the book chart for at least a gazillion weeks. The film’s trade dropped off heavily during its second weekend on release in the US. But expect fans to flock to Irish multiplexes from today.
Football widows? Ha. Explain Road. This stirring portrait of the marvellous motorcycling Dunlop dynasty has already taken €29,755 in the ROI and a whopping €42,387 in the North; an all-island haul of €72,142.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say again: even against the Greatest Show on Earth, those Dunlops are some boys.