An unlucky break

by MARK REYNOLDS, Daily Mail

It was billed as the next Full Monty, a vital shot-in-the- arm for the British film industry.

But Lucky Break - Peter Cattaneo's first film since directing The Full Monty - has flopped disastrously at the box office, trailing all rivals during its opening weekend.

Making just £348,613 from 270 cinemas nationwide - around £1,300 per theatre - the Film Four offering starring James Nesbitt limped in behind a number of foreign comedies released at the same time.

American productions Crocodile Dundee III - widely panned by the critics - and Heartbreakers both pulled in better UK box office returns.

Crocodile Dundee III, again starring Paul Hogan, made £354,593. Heartbreakers, with Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt as a mother-and-daughter team of confidence tricksters, made £751,754.

The disappointment follows other meagre performances from a string of summer British comedies.

The Parole Officer, starring Steve Coogan, and Mel Smith's High Heels and Low Lifes have also attracted only moderate box office interest, with industry insiders viewing the figures as extremely disappointing.

Robert Mitchell, box office analyst for Screen International magazine, said compared to the success of Bridget Jones' Diary, which pulled in a staggering £5.7million in its first weekend, the summer British offerings had simply failed to make an impact.

He said: 'The results for Lucky Break in particular do seem pretty bad. £1,300 per cinema is very low and compares with more than £5,000 per cinema for the likes of Planet of the Apes.

When we saw the weekend's results we just said, "Oh, my God". And it is all the more disappointing because expectations had been so high for this particular film because of the connection with The Full Monty.

'The Full Monty was the most successful UK production of all time, making a total of £52.1million in the UK. But despite being from the same director, Lucky Break doesn't appear so far to have been able to pull in the audiences.

'The Parole Officer made a relatively respectable £902,028 in its first weekend but High Heels and Low Lifes only pulled in £454,989 - again disappointing.'

Critics gave Lucky Break a mixed reception when it opened.

But some now argue that poor advertising and lacklustre writing left it unable to capture the imagination in the way British hits such as The Full Monty, Notting Hill and Four Weddings and a Funeral did.

One said: 'The real problem is that it's just not funny. 'And the ad campaign was just not good enough. Everyone is disappointed.' The Full Monty - made on a shoestring - pulled in £1.5million in its first weekend.

Last night, Film Four - who famously turned down The Full Monty, preferring the less successful Brassed Off - remained upbeat about Lucky Break.

'It's fair to say it was a soft opening, but you have to remember that it was the hottest Saturday since 1871 which clearly didn't help,' said a spokesman.

'But we are confident Lucky Break will do well through consistent marketing and word of mouth because the film really does play very well.'

The company is also hoping for good things from its next comedy Crush, starring Andie McDowell, which will be released this autumn.

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