Rotten Potatoes: Diana’s downfall

Beware the idiosyncrasies of the Irish box office

Naomi Watts in Diana: not critic-proof

Naomi Watts in Diana: not critic-proof

Fri, Oct 11, 2013, 00:00

We’re living through a time when $100 million spend on film advertising is considered chump change. Critics, we’re told, can’t compete with those numbers or with a million tweets.

Try telling that to the makers of Diana. Last week director Oliver Hirschbiegel hit back at the negative press, describing the deluge of poor British notices as “déjà vu, because it has the same reactions in the UK as Downfall had in Germany on release”.

Perhaps. What is clear is that the critical community has hounded Hirschbiegel’s biopic – roll up, come see the heart-stopping 3 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes - right out of cinemas. Bizarrely, the film performed comparatively better in the Republic of Ireland than it did in the UK and Northern Ireland, with a No 4 Irish debut and a €59,549 take.

Still, you can’t fight critical gravity. Three weeks on and Diana has slumped to the 18th spot with a running total of €184,097. It’s a poor performance for a film once tipped for Oscars. (Grace of Monaco has, accordingly, been knocked back to next year).

Conversely, critical wow Blue Jasmine is trading well. Last weekend, Woody Allen’s much admired riff on A Streetcar Named Desire held on to fourth place with €60,801 and a €176,381 total. Two chart spots down we find another critical darling: Ron Howard’s Rush. The thrilling sporting bromance made a disappointing thud when it landed in cinemas four weeks ago, but has since found its feet and just sped past the €522,748 mark.

Late September and early October is rarely a bustling time at the box office. Last week, Prisoners took the UK top spot with the lowest No 1 take since Dredd. Here, Prisoners has fared slightly (in relative terms) better. The twisty kidnap thriller populated with movie stars is just the sort of picture – see also anything directed by Ben Affleck – that traditionally goes down well with ROI auds.

Having debuted with €195,183, Prisoners held on to the top spot, an honour it replicated in NI and the UK – with €175,837 last weekend. That figure puts the film more than 100 grand ahead of ROI’s second favourite picture, Runner Runner (with a €67,852 take and a €242,344 total), and brings Prisoners up to a cumulative €522,651.

At the non-business end of the chart, there was bad news for the lovely Sunshine on Leith. The film was well reviewed but screened too late for most outlets. Its lack of stars and pizzazz – a jukebox musical based on the work of The Proclaimers – translated into just €14,635 from 24 sites. A real pity.

Even lower down the rankings we find Mister John and The Irish Pub. This week’s biggest failure, however, was The To-Do List: the teen sex comedy took in just €3,132 from 11 prints: another warning that four months (the film was released in July Stateside) is a long time in the world of internet piracy.

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