Ir­ish au­di­ences have got­ten re­li­gion, says Tara Brady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - OPINION -

De­spite Pres­i­dent Hig­gins’s re­cent jaunt to Wind­sor, our Bri­tish chums could not be per­suaded to take much in­ter­est in the mud­dled Hiber­nian mus­ings of Cal­vary.

Of­fi­cially, writer-di­rec­tor John Michael McDon­agh’s hit blath­er­fest placed 7th with a haul of €693,411 on the box of­fice chart that cov­ers the UK, Ire­land and Malta. Un­of­fi­cially, it’s a mostly Ir­ish-made smash, tak­ing €358,790 from 65 ROI sites last weekend, with a screen aver­age of €5,519. In the UK, it man­aged a com­par­a­tively mod­est €334,621 from 85 sites, with a screen aver­age of €3,936.

We call that dif­fer­en­tial the Glee­son Ra­tio. The ac­tor’s pres­ence has at­tracted un­ex­pected quan­ti­ties of foot­fall into Ir­ish cin­e­mas plenty of times be­fore now. But we might equally call it the Late Late Fac­tor. Cal­vary is the sec­ond of this sea­son’s splashy and ef­fec­tive roll­outs from the House of Tubridy. Last weekend, Ir­ish com­edy con­tender The Stag – a movie fea­tured twice in re­cent Late Late episodes - sailed past €600,000 on its sixth week on re­lease.

We have additional the­o­ries. Cal­vary may have ben­e­fit­ted from some kind of la­tent re­li­gios­ity buried deep within the na­tional psy­che. Here’s the flimsy ev­i­dence: In the UK, Cap­tain Amer­ica: The Win­ter Sol­dier has topped the chart for three weeks run­ning. In ROI, the same movie man­aged one week at No 1, be­fore Noah smote the Marvel hero with €253,761 to Cap 2’s sec­ond-place €209,082.

Last weekend, pri­estly Brendan Glee­son smote Noah, which dropped to No 2 with a run­ning box of­fice to­tal of €517,580. Cap­tain Amer­ica fell to fourth, adding €122,793 to a solid €1,039,608 take.

We’re not sure if a re­li­gious fig­ure ever sug­gested that “The Lego Movie will al­ways be with us”, but they should have. The plas­tic ad­ven­ture continues to prop up the na­tion’s top 10 movies with €3,274,305 in the kitty af­ter nine weeks on the go. That’s just be­hind this sea­son’s most un­ex­pected hit, The Grand Bu­dapest Ho­tel, which has now made €757,738 seven weeks into a limited (cur­rently 29 sites) re­lease.

Mean­while, Ir­ish pun­ters could not be per­suaded to take much in­ter­est in the mud­dled Bri­tish hor­ror of The Quiet Ones. The Ham­mer film was re­leased here with­out a press show last week – an “over­sight” that al­most in­vari­ably drags down the num­bers. Thus, The Quiet Ones placed fifth in the UK rank­ings but landed in a com­par­a­tively lowly sev­enth spot in ROI. All told, Ir­ish au­di­ences ac­counted for just €34,793 (from 42 lo­ca­tions) of the film’s €827,869 take from the UK/ROI zone.

The Raid 2 faired only a lit­tle bet­ter, with €27,926 from 17 lo­ca­tions. As with its pre­de­ces­sor, cult sta­tus doesn’t al­ways trans­late into huge prof­its. Just ask the people be­hind the hor­ror/sci-fi thriller Last Days on Mars, which charted way down in 20th place. Does any­one know how to per­form the Last Rites?

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