Twelve films make their debut in UK-Ireland cinemas this weekend, with sequel Sonic The Hedgehog 2 one of three wide releases looking to revive a flagging box office.
That film opened to a substantial £4.7m in February 2020, topping the charts for two weeks. It played in cinemas for five weekends, reaching £19.3m; before its run was cut short by the closure of all UK-Ireland cinemas due to the pandemic.
The Sonic franchise is based on the eponymous Sega videogame character.
Films based on video games have had mixed success at the box office; a pre-existing fanbase can provide a ready-made audience, but differences in tone and style between the two mediums can also bring criticism.
Another Warner Bros title, 2018’s Tomb Raider, performed less well, opening to £2.6m but ending on just £7.7m.
There have been seven films based on the Resident Evil franchise, the highest-grossing of which is 2010’s Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D, which opened to £1.7m and ended on £4.8m.
Assassin’s Creed disappointed with a £1.9m opening and £8m final cume in January 2017.
Sony is conducing a long-delayed release for Marvel Entertainment blockbuster Morbius in 620 sites.
Having completed filming in 2019, the film was originally set for release on July 10, 2020, before delays to July 31; then to March 19, 2021; October 8, 2021; January 21, 2022; January 28, 2022; before finally settling on its current date.
The story follows Dr. Michael Morbius, a biochemist who tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead.
The most recent Marvel Comics adaptation, Sony’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, is still playing in cinemas, reaching £96.3m as of last weekend and chasing down No Time To Die’s £96.7m for third spot in the all-time chart.
Other recent Marvel adaptations include 2021’s Eternals (£15.2m) and Venom: Let There Be Carnage (£18.2m). Sony will hope to approach those figures, although lukewarm reviews for Morbius may hold it back.
The third wide release of the weekend is Universal animation The Bad Guys, in 618 sites.
Based on Aaron Blabey’s children’s book series, the film follows a group of criminal animals who, upon being caught, pretend to reform themselves as model citizens.
A starry voice cast includes Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Anthony Ramos, Craig Robinson, Awkwafina and Richard Ayoade.
Universal revealed a sneak look at the trailer at last year’s CineEurope in Barcelona in October.
With box office takings for the top five titles having dropped for four weekends in a row, exhibitors will be hoping for a glut of new films to revive fortunes heading in to the Easter holidays.
Signature Entertainment is opening German animation Rabbit Academy in 411 locations, providing competition for The Bad Guys and Sonic 2.
Set in a bunny training school, the magical golden egg that selects ‘master bunnies’ suddenly turns black after selecting the champion bunny candidate.
Picturehouse Entertainment is releasing Harry Wootliff’s second feature True Things in 65 locations.
Starring Ruth Wilson and Tom Burke, the film follows a young woman living on the fringes of society who becomes intoxicated by a stranger who overwhelms her quiet life.
Wootliff’s debut Only You took £84,195 in July 2019 through Curzon. She then won the £50,000 IWC Schaffhausen Filmmaker Bursary award, in association with the BFI, when True Things played at London Film Festival following its premiere in Horizons at Venice 2021.
In a busy weekend for animation, Modern Films is debuting Dutch-German-Belgian co-production Coppelia in 106 sites, following a world premiere at Annecy last summer.
The film will play predominantly in matinees and family slots, but will go on to run widely across the school break throughout April.
Vertigo Releasing has Lauren Hadaway’s rowing thriller The Novice in 33 sites. The film debuted at Tribeca 2021, and scored five nominations at this year’s Film Independent Spirit Awards in the US.
Further titles include Payal Kapadia’s documentary A Night Of Knowing Nothing in nine sites through the Institute of Contemporary Art, with another 25 across April; Ingmar Bergman’s 1972 drama Cries & Whispers in 13 sites through BFI Distribution; musical drama The Audition in 19 locations through New Wave Films; mystery-horror Homebound in 10 sites through Blue Finch Films; and Texas drama One of These Days in 12 sites through Studio Soho Distribution.