That was legendary screenwriter William Goldman‘s view on the entertainment industry, and he was referring to the fact that no-one really knows how well a film will do until it is released.
You can line up all your ducks to give yourself the best chance: you can get one of the biggest movie stars in the world (Johnny Depp) pair him up with the biggest female movie star in the world (Angelina Jolie), throw in exotic locations and the director of an Oscar winning film (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck and THE LIVES OF OTHERS) and what do you get? A film that just didn’t do the box office business expected – THE TOURIST.
And so the last couple of weekends at the UK box office have raised a few eyebrows in the film industry – and in particular the performance of THE WOMAN IN BLACK starring Daniel Radcliffe.
The film itself was generally well reviewed, but it was seen by many observers as a bit of a gamble – would Radcliffe be able to make the transition from Potter to a leading man who could open a movie? After all, his only other non-Potter effort THE DECEMBER BOYS hardly set the box office alight. Would his fans turn out to see him in an adult role in a horror film – playing a widower with a young son?
Well, turn out they did – and in it’s first week of release the film was top of the UK box office (it opened a week earlier in the US in second spot, marginally behind CHRONICLE). While it didn’t break box office records, it was a solid start. But it couldn’t last, could it? Once the Potter fans had seen it it attendance was expected to drop sharply.
But incredibly in it’s second week of UK release the figures went up. Current 10-day figures now stand at a very healthy £10.49m.
You can read Charles Gant’s UK Box Office analysis here at The Guardian website (where interestingly another sure-fire slam-dunk hit starring Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and directed by three time Oscar-nominee Stephen Daldry has failed to open in the UK Top 10).
So congratulations to Daniel Radcliffe, director James Watkins, his terrific cast and crew, producers Hammer Films and distributors Momentum – perhaps a few people know something after all.