The winner: La La Land
Each awards season, the market typically anoints one runaway box-office winner that captures the imagination of audiences, with notable examples from the last decade being The King’s Speech (2011) and Slumdog Millionaire (2009). Last year, that film was The Revenant – a 156-minute survival ordeal that hardly looked a commercial slam-dunk on paper, but which achieved a muscular £23.4m by the end of its UK run.
This year, the winner is La La Land, which grossed £4.37m in its second weekend of play (down a slim 23% from the opening frame), for an 11-day total of £14.91m. For comparison, The Revenant had reached £12.01m after two weekends. While La La Land benefits from some strong commercial elements, notably likable actors Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in the lead roles, the film represented a huge risk. Successful movie musicals in recent years have overwhelmingly been adapted from stage hits, from Chicago to Mamma Mia! and Dreamgirls. La La Land benefits from no existing audience familiarity with the source material. As for director Damien Chazelle, his biggest previous hit in the UK, Whiplash, grossed £2.3m.
La La Land has an 8.7/10 user rating at IMDb, and a 93/100 score at MetaCritic. It equalled the Oscars record this week with 14 nominations.