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Still Catching Fire at the top spot in the UK

Holding on to the top spot is The Hunger Games: Catching Fire after making £5,525,476 in its second week on release. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, who return to reprise their roles as Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. In the last Hunger Games, they beat the Capitol at their own game and now they have become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire received broad acclaim from critics with many praising Lawrence and Hutcherson’s performance, with Haley Frederick of The Huffington Post stating, ‘Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss was true to her book equivalent. She had several intense scenes in this movie, and each was poignant and believable. Hutcherson’s Peeta earned your sympathy, yet his strength was not lost in excessive pity.’ With Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson also reprising their roles from the first film, Catching Fire has made a total of £21,711,143 in the UK.

After four weeks on release Sci-fi thriller, Gravity retains its position in second place making a gross of £22,522,241 in the UK, taking £1,741,279 last weekend. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play two astronauts who survive the mid-orbit destruction of a Space Shuttle and attempt to return to Earth. The film has been longlisted for a nomination for visual effects at the 2014 Oscars amongst others such as Star Trek: Into Darkness and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The full Oscars nominations will be announced on January 16th 2014, with the actual ceremony taking place on March 2nd 2014.

In third place is 3D animated comedy film Free Birds which on its opening weekend made £1,044,074. The film follows the story of two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks who must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history and get turkey off the holiday menu for good. The main turkeys are voiced by Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Amy Poehler, Free Birds has been received with largely negative reviews from critics with Alonso Duralde of The Wrap , saying, ‘Even setting aside the film’s disregard for time-travel paradoxes and genocide metaphors—trust me, you don’t want to wade into either of those—Free Birds just isn’t funny.’

Saving Mr. Banks is a biographical comedy drama, directed by John Lee Hancock, which centres on the production of the 1964 Walt Disney Studios film Mary Poppins. The film stars Emma Thompson, who plays author P. L. Travers, and Tom Hanks, as Walt Disney, and follows her fortnight-long briefing in LA as she is pursued by filmmaker Walt Disney for the screen rights to her novel. Saving Mr. Banks has received acclaim from film critics; with major praise directed to the screenplay, John Lee Hancock’s direction, and acting, particularly Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks’ performances, with Jason Korsner of UK Screen stating, ‘As the cantankerous Mrs Travers – or Pam – Emma Thompson is delightfully snippy, pompous and immune to the kind of Hollywood pleasantries that would draw in all but the most cynical Brits. Yet throughout, she remains loveable and provides the most emotional moments of the film.’ Saving Mr. Banks made £795,615 in its opening weekend in the UK securing its position in fourth place.

Fifth position is filled by American supernatural horror film, Carrie, the third adaption from Stephen King’s’ Novel. Directed by Kimberly Peirce, most well-known for drama Boys Don’t Cry, the film is a reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother. Carrie unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom. Carrie made £662,625 on its opening weekend and was received by generally mixed reviews, with Jason Korsner of UK Screen stating, ‘In the 1970s, there weren’t as many high school films, or indeed youth horrors, but when both genres are ubiquitous in Hollywood, this new version has little fresh to offer. But worse, it doesn’t even stand up to scrutiny in its own right; every character is without fail either evil or angelic – there’s no grey here, making for an obvious narrative with few surprises.’

In sixth position is American historical drama The Butler starring Forest Whitaker which made £431,666 in its third weekend in the box office. The film tells the story of Cecil Gaines who serves as a butler at the White House from 1957 to 1986. The Butler, which has made a total of £2,929,213 in the UK, was met with positive to mixed reviews with Alex von Tunzelmann of The Guardian stating, ‘An earnest but unwieldy take on 20th-century African American history, which wobbles between deeply affecting and farcical. There’s too much going on, and the dizzying clutter of stars and presidents obscures its better moments.’

Five weeks in the box office chart and remaining in seventh position is Thor: The Dark World having made a gross of £19,220,530 in the UK alone. The film, that stars Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman, follows the story of Thor (Hemsworth), who must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster (Portman) and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all. Thor: Dark World made £423,374 last weekend in cinemas but has had greater success elsewhere. Disney announced Friday that Thor: The Dark World is the third Disney release, following Iron Man 3 and Monsters University, to hit the $600 million (£367,080,243.74) milestone in 2013. Thor: The Dark World has already surpassed the total global box-office grosses for Iron Man, $585 million (£357,903,237.65), Thor, $449 million (£274,698,382.40) and Captain America, $371 million, (£226,977,950.71) with an outstanding $600,699,642 (£367,508,285) worldwide.

British film Philomena is holding strong in the UK box office after 5 weeks and in eighth position after making £289,860 last weekend. The film, starring Steve Coogan and Judi Dench, follows the story of a world-weary journalist, Martin Sixsmith, (Coogan) as he picks up the story of the search by a woman (Dench) looking for her son, who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent. Philomena has made a total of £9,788,671 and was received to positive reviews, many praising Dench’s performance, with Roy Leonard of online blog Chicago Blog stating, ‘There are long moments in this film when all we see are close-ups of Judi Dench.  Her ability to convey the haunting images that she must confront are lasting tributes to her ability as an actress. When she cries, you will, too.’

In ninth position after an impressive six weeks in the box office top ten is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. The first film follows lonely teenager Flint Lockwood who built a contraption that could turn water into food and how it went awry. In the second film, we revisit Flint as the cheeseburgers take over, after the island has been evacuated. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 made £211,562 last weekend bringing its total in the UK to £12,095,055.  Received positively by critics, Paul Byrnes of The Sydney Morning Herald praises the film’s comedy, ‘Animation is still about dreaming the impossible. In children’s animation, the impulse is still innocent: to create, rather than destroy. There’s more fun to be had, too. As in the scene here where a cheeseburger spider rolls over and someone says: ”He just wants you to tickle his buns.”’

Lastly, in tenth place is American/French action comedy The Family which stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, John D’Leo and Dianna Agron as a Mafia family that go into a witness protection programme to help change their lives. On its second week in the box office, The Family made £188,835 last weekend making its gross in the UK £928,487.

Look out for next week: Nebraska, Homefront, Getaway, Frozen, Kill Your Darlings and Oldboy.

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