The superhero's latest sticky situation ensnares viewers, despite the tennis, and India-produced flicks make their mark
The winnerFollowing four consecutive weeks when Euro 2012 football saw a succession of commercially modest titles land into an ever-diminishing market, salvation for cinemas has arrived at last in the guise of a familiar costumed superhero.
The Amazing Spider-Man debuted with a hefty £11.09m, including £4.33m in previews earned from Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
That's the second-highest opening of the year, after The Avengers on £15.78m, including £2.55m in previews.
For a like-for-like comparison, looking just at the Friday-to-Sunday periods of the films' opening weekends, the new Spider-Man picture grossed 51% of Avengers' total.
If it continues in the same vein, it will get to around £26.5m in the UK, but Sony will be banking on a slower burnout.
Five years ago, Sony's last Spider-Man movie, the third in the Sam Raimi trilogy, opened with a stonking £11.83m and no previews, on its way to a £33.55m total.
The first flick in the series reached £29.03m in 2002, and Spider-Man 2 managed £26.72m two years later.
Following audience disappointment with Spider-Man 3, it's likely that box-office would have dipped significantly had Sony and Marvel tried to mount a fourth flick with Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire.
Going by the numbers so far, the studios' gutsy decision to reboot with the relatively untested Marc Webb and star Andrew Garfield has paid off handsomely.
The franchise is also now in much better shape for further sequels.
The runner-upDipping just 16%, Ice Age 4: Continental Drift posted another impressive set of figures from Irish, Northern Irish and Scottish cinemas, where the flick has officially opened.
The animal pals have grossed £2.33m there in 10 days.
Based on the assumption that cinemas in those territories traditionally represent 15% of the UK and Ireland market, this equates to a 10-day total for the whole territory of £15.5m.
Ice Age 3 stood at £15.4m at that stage of its run, so the latest flick seems on course to match its predecessor, which reached £35.17m in 2009.
Ice Age 4 has in fact been playing previews in England and Wales for two successive weekends, and these are believed to total around £5.2m.
These will all be added in to the film's tally when it officially opens this weekend.
With no major animation arriving until Dr Seuss' The Lorax on 27 July, the new Ice Age flick looks set to dominate the family market throughout July.
Most English schools begin the summer holiday on 20 July, boosting weekday takings from then on.
Since 15 million people stayed in to watch Andy Murray lose the Wimbledon final, you might imagine takings dropped on Sunday across the country.
The figures do not seem to support this, and the Saturday-to-Sunday decline was in line with regular UK box-office patterns.
Since Spider-Man and Ice Age represent such overwhelming presences in the market, it seems likely that the audiences for these titles don't overlap significantly with tennis fans.
The alternativeOpening numbers for Katy Perry: Part of Me are pretty soft, with £449,000 from 326 screens, including £91,000 in previews.
This compares with a debut of £821,000 for Justin Bieber: Never Say Never in February 2011.
The Bieber picture landed at a highly competitive time, a weekend that saw seven flicks all clear £1m, but it still managed more than double the Perry flick over the Friday-to-Sunday period.
Part of Me's distributor Paramount will point to the competition offered by The Amazing Spider-Man, and suggest Perry fans will catch up midweek.
It's certainly true that female-skewing flicks can score well on weekdays: girls' night, rather than date night.
The flopsSecond-weekend returns for flicks that opened poorly invariably make for distressing reading for distributors, with the inevitable loss of screens and showtimes.
And the trend has certainly been observed with Storage 24 and Joyful Noise.
The British sci-fi horror plunged 95%, and delivered a second-weekend screen average of just £81.
The Queen Latifah choir flick also dropped 95%, and achieved an identical screen average of £81.
Both will be lucky to hang on to many sites for the third innings.
The survivorIt's a totally different story for Think Like a Man, based on the Steve Harvey dating manual and featuring a largely African American cast.
Having opened disappointingly two weeks ago with £82,000 from 53 screens, the following week the flick contracted to the 25 sites where it was actually working, dipping just 4% in takings despite the severely diminished screen count.
The film's screen average more than doubled.
For week three, it's now on at just 19 cinemas, but takings have held up well, with the screen average up another 22%.
With £3,799 per site, it's the third best number, after The Amazing Spider-Man and Ice Age 4.
Other flicks with decent averages include a trio of India-produced pictures: new releases Bol Bachchan (Hindi) and Diamond Necklace (Malayalam), and holdover title Jatt & Juliet (Punjabi).
The arthouse marketWith top new niche picture The Hunter landing with a so-so £65,000 from 40 cinemas, the arthouse market continues to be dominated by William Friedkin's Killer Joe (£123,000).
Ken Loach's The Angels' Share is also still posting impressive numbers (£70,000, on its sixth weekend of play), although this is more of a mainstream Scottish success than an English arthouse one.
The whiskey caper has reached £1.56m, the second-best result for a Loach flick in the UK and Ireland.
Top flick for the director remains The Wind that Shakes the Barley, with £3.81m, but only £1.3m of that sum was earned in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Looking for Eric took £1.31m in the combined UK/Ireland territory.
The futureWith the arrival of The Amazing Spider-Man, it's no surprise to see takings overall a whopping 157% up on the previous weekend, and also 35% up on the equivalent frame from 2011, when the market paused for breath, and holdover titles Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Bridesmaids dominated.
The good news for cinemas is set to continue, with the official arrival in England and Wales this weekend of Ice Age 4.
(Mind you, whatever happens, the result will be no match for the same frame a year ago, which saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 open with £23.7m.) Joining Ice Age 4 is Steven Soderbergh's male stripper flick Magic Mike, arriving Wednesday, and US indie Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley.
Multiple Oscar winner Chariots of Fire sees a timely rerelease.
Top 10 films1.
The Amazing Spider-Man, £11,091,972 from 552 sites (New)
Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, £719,769 from 135 sites.
(Republic of Ireland/Northern Ireland/Scotland only)
The Five-Year Engagement, £514,702 from 437 sites.
Katy Perry: Part of Me, £449,491 from 326 sites (New)
Men in Black 3, £389,853 from 408 sites.
Prometheus, £324,779 from 296 sites.
Snow White and the Huntsman, £312,318 from 370 sites, Total: £15,129,299
Bol Bachchan, £160,941 from 50 sites (New)
Friends with Kids, £134,752 from 259 sites.
Killer Joe, £122,831 from 92 sites.
Other openersThe Hunter, 40 sites, £64,938
7 Days in Havana, 30 sites, £11,595
Diamond Necklace, 2 sites, £7,263
Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present, 10 sites, £5,023 (+£958 previews)
The Women on the Sixth Floor, 4 sites, £5,511
God Bless America, 2 sites, £2,886 (+ £3,028 previews)
The Players, 4 sites, £4,305
Ping Pong, 2 sites, £1,995
You've Been Trumped, 3 sites, £1,502
Strawberry Fields, 1 site, £131
Film industryCharles Gantguardian.co.uk © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.
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