A director today praised north-east audiences after his new film went straight to number one at the box office charts.
Jon S Baird’s film Stan & Ollie grossed £2.41 million during its opening weekend – easing past Oscar-tipped period drama The Favourite to take the top spot.
The movie, which stars Steve Coogan and John C Reilly as the legendary Hollywood funnymen, opened in cinemas last Friday and has been nominated for three BAFTA awards.
Stan & Ollie’s box office – which rises to £2.6m if preview screenings are included – means the film is likely to be the biggest hit of Jon’s career.
His last movie Filth, an adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel that starred James McAvoy, grossed a total of £3.9m when it was released in cinemas in 2013.
Jon, who is originally from Peterhead, said: “I’m obviously delighted and would like to thank the people of the north-east for coming out in their numbers to support the film.
“It’s greatly appreciated and reminds me how proud I am to be from the region.”
The film tells the story of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy as they embark on a tour of UK and Ireland theatres in 1953.
At that time in their careers the duo’s lustre was fading and they sometimes struggled to sell out theatres.
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Jon’s film – which he describes as a “love story” – shows the pair rekindling their friendship after years of disagreements and career setbacks.
Last week Jon told the Evening Express he gave Dons legend Alex McLeish a cameo in the film after discovering the Scotland boss was a member of the Laurel and Hardy fan club.
He said: “People just naturally gravitate towards him, regardless of whether they are football fans or not.
“He’s a lovely, respectful man with a great sense of humour.
“Alex had an incredible presence on set.”
After leaving university in Aberdeen, Jon moved to London and found work as a runner with the BBC.
His journey into movie-making started in 2003 with a short film called It’s A Casual Life.
In 2008 the former Peterhead Academy pupil made his feature-length debut with Cass, a biopic about the writer and football hooligan Cass Pennant.
Following Filth, Jon spent some time in America directing episodes of Martin Scorsese’s ’70s music industry drama Vinyl, and I’m Dying Up Here, a Showtime series about stand-up comedians that was produced by Jim Carrey.