National Theatre Live’s Prima Facie, starring Jodie Comer, is officially the highest-grossing event cinema release since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Suzie Miller’s one-woman play, which is now screening in select cinemas, took home £1.4m within the first 24 hours of its release - with 76 sites still to report.
Encores at the weekend pushed this to £1.8m, and The Telegraph reported that the five-day total reached £1.9m.
These figures made the film the highest-grossing title in UK-Ireland cinemas, and the first event release to cross the £1m mark since cinemas closed for the first time in March 2020.
It played in 662 locations on its premiere day (21 July), bringing in a single-day location average of £2,346.
Serving as Ms Comer’s West End debut, Prima Facie has received endless praise from audiences and critics alike - so it’s no wonder it’s taken the Box Office by storm too.
Rumours were circulating for weeks that the advance sales were particularly strong, and with NT Live confirming that “many cinemas have scheduled seven-day bookings [in the coming weeks], with multiple screenings throughout the day”, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the production breaks more records soon.
How do the figures compare to other event releases?
To put Prima Facie’s performance into context, the highest-grossing 2021 title for event cinema - which includes plays, operas and music concerts screened in cinemas - was Christmas With André.
The concert, featuring popular violinist and conductor André Rieu, grossed £866,000.
Anything Goes, a musical set aboard an ocean liner travelling from New York To London, came just behind - grossing £781,000.
In comparison with pre-pandemic numbers, these figures are low. In 2019, with the release of NT Live’s Fleabag, event cinema was flourishing - and the category in total delivered a significant £45.3m in UK and Ireland cinemas.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, also a one-woman play, grossed £4.4m and set a box office record for the genre.
But the event cinema scene has been starkly different during, and post-pandemic, so Prima Facie’s success is no small feat.
Many are hoping it will kickstart a new wave of event cinemagoers after the industry took a painful hit in the aftermath of the coronavirus.
What is Prima Facie about?
Directed by Justin Martin, Prima Facie is a one-woman play about sexual assault and the legal system.
It follows the story of Tessa (Comer), a brilliant young barrister from working-class origins, who specialises in defending men who have been accused of sexual assault.
But “an unexpected event forces her to confront the lines where the patriarchal power of the law, burden of proof and morals diverge” - and emotions run high.
What are the reviews like?
Prima Facie has received a series of glowing reviews - both from theatre connoisseurs and cinema gurus.
The Daily Telegraph wrote: “West End debuts don’t come more astonishing than this solo Tour de Force by Jodie Comer.”
The Times warned: “Nothing can prepare you for the range, energy, resilience, emotional clarity and sheer presence [Jodie Comer] offers.”
Curzon described Prima Facie as “more than a rallying cry of ‘believe women’ - it’s a howling, bone-chilling wail,” adding that Ms Comer “delivers another commanding, multifaceted performance.”
What else has Jodie Comer starred in?
Ms Comer first skyrocketed to fame when she was cast as the assassin Villanelle in BBC’s hit show Killing Eve.
In the past year, she has starred in historical drama The Last Duel alongside Matt Damon and Adam Driver, as well as action comedy Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds and Joe Keery.
In May, she received the BAFTA for Leading Actress for her performance in Channel 4’s Help, which offered an insight into the experience of care homes and carers during the pandemic.
How can I watch Prima Facie?
Prima Facie made its West End premiere at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London in April, and ran for a limited time until 18 June.
The play is now showing in select cinemas, but only for the next few weeks - so it’s best to snap up your tickets as soon as possible.
You can find out which cinemas are involved, and buy your tickets, on National Theatre Live’s website.