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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

U.K. box office: ‘Avatar’ opens big

And homegrown British films make good showings:

1. Avatar: £8.5 million (NEW)
2. St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold: £1.6 million (NEW)
3. A Christmas Carol: £1 million
4. Nativity!: £.58 million (4th week; drops 13%)
5. Planet 51: £.455 million (3rd week; drops 41%)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
Avatar enjoyed the third biggest opening of 2009 in the U.K, according to Charles Gant at the Guardian Film blog, after Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and New Moon… which are, of course, sequels. For a better opening by a film with no preexisting source material, we have to go back to July 2008, when Hancock opened with £9.59m.

Apparently (also according to Gant), the 3D situation with Avatar was reversed what it was in North America, where 3D screens outnumbered 2D ones. So many in the U.K. who may have wanted to see Avatar in 3D — and really, there’s no other way to see it — were likely locked out. Which means that the film may hold very strong as British moviegoers catch up with 3D showings over the next few weekends.

David Tennant is in St. Trinian’s 2, so I’ll certainly have to see that one eventually… terrible reviews notwithstanding. Of couse, I should probably watch the first one first…

Nine debuted on one screen in the West End last weekend, and raked in £44,443. I can’t recall seeing a per-screen average anywhere near that high since I’ve been watching the British box office (though the lack of well-organized historical info on the British box office makes it hard to confirm). For comparison’s sake, Avatar’s per-screen was £16,917 at 503 locations, which is just about as wide as a U.K. release gets.

Overall business was up 61 percent over the same weekend last year, and up 93 percent over last weekend, snapping the slump the U.K. box office has been in of late.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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