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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

U.K. box office: ‘2012’ opens big

But Christmas Carol is the real winner:

1. 2012: £6.5 million (NEW)
2. A Christmas Carol: £2.5 million (2nd week; up 31%)
3. Harry Brown: £1.3 million (NEW)
4. Up: £.99 million
5. The Men Who Stare at Goats: £.8 million (2nd week; drops 34%)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
Just as in North America, 2012 opened huge in the U.K. last weekend, enjoying one of the biggest debuts of the year (though not the biggest). It helped bust the downturn the U.K. box office has been seeing of late: business was up 37 percent over the same weekend last year.

And Disney has gotta be happy to see that A Christmas Carol took a giant leap: up 31 percent? That’s just crazy. Last weekend’s second-week drop of only 26 percent in North America was pretty astonishing, considering that the film opened only middling well. This one could hold on stronger than it was looking at first (though this weekend in North America is faces new competition from the kiddie-oriented Planet 51). Up, too, continues to hold very strong in its sixth week in the U.K.

Who the hell is Harry Brown? Turns out he’s London pensioner played by Michael Caine — that explains the big debut — who goes a bit vigilante when violence strikes close to home. (The film was at Toronto in September but doesn’t appear to have a North American release date yet.)

Amelia and Taking Woodstock had absolutely awful debuts, clocking in, respectively, at No. 17 and No. 18, taking in, £49,224 and £41,348… and since they were playing wide-ish as arthouse releases go — 133 and 102 cinemas — these numbers are particularly distressing. Neither film did particularly well in North America, either, but they didn’t do this poorly. I liked both, but I was in a minority among my fellow critics and moviegoers on that, and I wonder how much transatlantic buzz depresses films opening later in Britain…

[numbers via UK Film Council]



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