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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

British box office: ‘The House Bunny’ ain’t so dumb after all…

My experiment with exploring global box office numbers continues. I think I’ll eventually start looking at numbers beyond North America and the U.K., but I’m trying to get a hold on what the U.K. box office numbers mean first.

British numbers are not as readily available as North American ones, but it seems that the previous weekend’s figures are available by midweek. So here’s how this past weekend shaped up:

1. The House Bunny: $1.6 million (NEW)
2. Mirrors: $1.5 million (NEW)
3. How to Lose Friends & Alienate People: $1.415 million (2nd week)
4. Taken: $1.377 million (3rd week)
5. Tropic Thunder: $.96 million (4th week)
I need to get more of a grip on how to interpret some of these numbers, and I don’t even know where to begin: there simply isn’t as much analysis of box-office numbers outside of North America as there is for the numbers within. Still, the idea that if a film sees a dropoff in business of less than 50 percent after its opening weekend, that’s a good thing, probably holds for the U.K. too. And look at this: the Simon Pegg comedy How to Lose Friends… dropped only 29 percent in its second week, and the Liam Neeson thriller Taken dropped only 28 percent in its third week. That must mean people actually like the films and are spreading good word-of-mouth, and that marketing isn’t the driving force in getting people into theaters. Whatever I think of the films — I’ve now seen How to Lose…, and liked it; I won’t see Taken till January, most likely, unless I spring for a trip to London for New Year’s like I’m fantasizing — it’s always better if it’s genuine general acclaim for a movie that puts butts in seats, rather than advertising.

Speaking of finding more analysis of the British box office… it’s bizarre. If you Google “british box office” the first results that come up are historical, and then my postings about the numbers. Googling “uk box office” produces somewhat more promising results, such as Charles Gant at the Guardian’s film blog, where for this week’s numbers, he notes that The House Bunny earned its spot at the top of the chart even though it earned less than £1 million, which is a rare thing. Gant also notes that this past weekend, Mamma Mia! had its first noticeable decline… after 14 weeks in release and a cumulative U.K. take of £65 ($113.5) million,

making it the third biggest ever UK hit, after Titanic and the first Harry Potter. With another £1 million in takings – a feat it will easily manage – Mamma Mia! will overtake the latter to nab the number-two spot in the all-time hall of commercial fame. (For context, the second biggest hit of the year, The Dark Knight, has grossed £48 million.)

Wow. ABBA bigger than Batman? Amazing.

[numbers via The Hollywood Reporter]

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