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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

U.K. box office: ‘Basterds’ rule

It’s Quentin Taratino’s biggest opening ever in Britain, too:

1. Inglourious Basterds: £3.6 million (NEW)
2. The Time Traveler’s Wife: £.92 million (2nd week; drops 35%)
3. G-Force: £.65 million (4th week; drops 30%)
4. Aliens in the Attic: £.64 million (2nd week; drops 51%)
5. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: £.598 million

(actual numbers, not estimates)
The box office apart from Basterds was pretty dismal. Shorts crashed in the U.K., too, opening with only £171,876 in takings, putting it in way down at No. 13; that’s only about a quarter of what might have been expected compared to its already dismal North American opening. It was even worse, by one measure, that the No. 17, £123,519 debut of I Love You, Beth Cooper (also about a quarter of its North American opening), because Shorts was on a lot more screens: 342 versus Cooper’s 199, with a per-screen average of a pathetic £503 against Cooper’s only slightly less pathetic £621. (For comparison’s sake, Basterd’s per-screen was £8,100 at 444 cinemas.)

And talk about ignominous drops: in their second weeks, Bandslam saw its business drop 73 perent, and A Perfect Getaway was down 66 percent; both flicks had takings in the £100,000s. Ugh.

Overall business was off 18 percent over last year, unlike in U.S. and Canada, which has been on something of a surprise August boom.

In my own personal box office news, I’ve decided to drop my listing of the top U.K. limited releases (in the righthand column), because I just don’t have the right info to track them. As Charles Gant at the Guardian Film blog notes:

With another week to wait for the start of the autumn season – coming on Friday: Broken Embraces, The Hurt Locker – there is little activity in the specialist sector. Holdover titles Coco Before Chanel, Mesrine: Killer Instinct, Sin Nombre, Moon and Mid-August Lunch continue to pick up viewers, and the first of those titles, with takings at £1.85m, is now the third-biggest ever French hit at the UK box-office, behind Amelie and Cyrano De Bergerac.

But some of these films don’t even show up in the box office reports I have access to from the U.K. Film Council, which lists, below the top 15 films, only new openers and U.K.-produced films. (See this week’s ranking as an example: Coco Before Chanel doesn’t appear at all, because it’s a French film, but it must be somewhere between No 16. and Moon at No. 22. Without more detailed info, I just can’t make a determination about what the top limited releases are. If I find a new source for the info, I’ll go back to listing them again.

[numbers via UK Film Council]



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