UK-Ireland box office preview: ‘The Iron Claw’ wrestles with ‘Gassed Up’, ‘Occupied City’
Sean Durkin’s wrestling drama The Iron Claw will look to become box office champion on its opening weekend, starting in 517 UK-Ireland cinemas through Lionsgate.
The film tells the true story of the Von Erich brothers, who made history in the competitive world of professional wrestling in the early 1980s.
Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, 2017 Screen Star of Tomorrow Harris Dickinson and Stanley Simons star as the Von Erich brothers, with Lily James and Maura Tierney also on the cast; Arcade Fire member Richard Reed Parry wrote the film’s score.
The Iron Claw premiered in Dallas, Texas just hours after the end of the SAG-AFTRA actors strike in the US, on November 8 last year. It is produced by Tessa Ross and Julliette Howell for the UK’s House Productions, with Angus Lamont, Durkin and Derrin Schlesinger.
It is a third feature for Canadian-American filmmaker Durkin, after 2012’s Martha Marcy May Marlene (opened: £111,306; closed: £488,724) and 2021’s The Nest (£121,174; £472,904). This established base, combined with the presence of Efron and men-of-the-moment White and Dickinson, should guarantee a new high watermark for the director.
The film’s main competition amongst opening titles may come from two back catalogue films. Warner Bros is putting Denis Villeneuve’s 2021 Dune back in 461 cinemas, ahead of the arrival of Dune: Part II on March 1. The first film opened to £4.8m in October 2021, knocking James Bond title No Time To Die off top spot, and ending on £22.1m – a strong result in a market only just emerging from the pandemic.
Disney is conducting an inaugural UK-Ireland theatrical release for Domee Shi’s Pixar animation Turning Red in 550 cinemas. The film, about a 13-year-old girl torn between remaining her mother’s dutiful daughter and the changes of adolescence, initially launched on Disney+ in the UK and Ireland on March 11, 2022. It was nominated for best animated feature film at the Oscars last year.
Vertigo Releasing is opening George Amponsah’s crime drama Gassed Up in 191 cinemas. The film is produced by Boiling Point producers Bart Ruspoli and Hester Ruoff through their Ascendant Fox, Bromantics’ Stefan D’Bart, and Vertigo’s Rupert Preston and Edward Caffrey through Sunrise Films, a separate but complementary entity to Vertigo.
Gassed Up stars Blue Story lead Stephen Odubola in the story of a youngster trying to earn money to help his younger sister and mother, only for him to get caught in an organised crime ring. It debuted at BFI London Film Festival in October 2024, where it won the audience award for best feature.
Modern Films is starting Steve McQueen’s Occupied City, a documentary based on the book Atlas Of An Occupied City, Amsterdam 1940-1945 by McQueen’s partner Bianca Stigter, who wrote the film. Opening in 44 cinemas, the film chronicles the Nazi occupation of Amsterdam and the recent years of pandemic and protest.
The film debuted as a special screening at Cannes 2023, going on to play Telluride, New York and London film festivals.
Trinity Film is conducting the widest opening for a Hong Kong film in the past decade, opening Sunny Chan’s comedy Table For Six 2 in 74 sites. The first title started in 41 locations in 2022, opening to £70,565 and taking £142,954 in total; the sequel will hope to top that mark.
Signature Entertainment is starting French animation The Jungle Bunch 2: World Tour in 355 sites. The first film opened to £375,219 through eOne in 2017, ending on £1.8m.
Limited releases this weekend include Felipe Galvez Haberle’s Cannes 2023 Un Certain Regard entry The Settlers in 14 sites through Mubi; Matthew Butler-Hart’s UK comedy-horror Dagr in 10 sites, with further bookings and Q&As across the coming weeks, released independently; back catalogue titles It Happened One Night (23 sites) and Ping-Pong (two sites) through Park Circus; and Jeanie Finlay’s documentary Your Fat Friend in 19 sites across its first week through Tull Stories.
Universal leads the holdovers, with Migration and Argylle having a one-two last weekend; while awards favourites All Of Us Strangers and The Zone Of Interest are playing well for Disney and A24 respectively.