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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

British box office: ‘Burn After Reading’ burns up cinemas

Another weekend is upon us, and I never covered last weekend’s U.K. box office. Ack! Here’s how things played out in the U.K. last weekend:

1. Burn After Reading: £2 million (NEW)
2. Eagle Eye: £1.1 million (NEW)
3. Igor: £1 million (NEW)
4. The House Bunny: £.66 million (dropping 27% in its 2nd week)
5. Mirrors: £.59 million (dropping 31% in its 2nd week)
Charles Gant at the Guardian’s film blog notes that this is the best U.K. opening ever for the Coen Brothers, just as they had their best opening in the U.S. with the film.

Interestingly, I just learned from the blog Bigger Picture Research that Gant’s column debuted only last week — and here I thought I’d just been missing it all this time. (That same post also calls for a more timely release of British box office numbers.) BPR itself seems to have launched only in June of this year. Looks like there’s something bubbling in the zeitgeist demanding more coverage of the movie business as a business beyond North America. I’ll be keeping an eye on BPR, for sure, for an indication of where that might be going.

My discovery of the U.K. Film Council’s coverage of the British box office gives me more of the info I need to talk about the U.K. industry on the same level as I have been with the North American side… like an idea of what constitutes a “wide” release in the U.K. version what constitutes a “limited” release: the cutoff appears to be somewhere around 250 screens/venues — higher is wide, lower is limited. (In North America, it takes a release on 800 screens/venues to be considered “wide.”) So I’m adding a listing of “top limited releases (U.K.)” to the righthand sidebar. Here’s those titles, just for starters (with their ranking overall):

12. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas: £199,348 (6th week)
13. Gomorrah: £137,012 (2nd week)
14. Fly Me to the Moon: £111,647 (3rd week)
15. I’ve Loved You So Long: £73,355 (4th week)
16. Brideshead Revisited: £72,128 (3rd week)

On a per-screen average — at least this weekend — the same thing does not seem to hold in the U.K. as holds in the U.S., where its the limited releases that tend to have to better per-screen averages than the wide releases. The film with the best per-screen’s in Britain last weekend was Burn After Reading, with £5,166 on each of 396 venues. I’ll keep an eye on that and see whether this is an anomaly or not.

[numbers via The Hollywood Reporter and UK Film Council]

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