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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

U.K. box office: James Bond still a killer

New films stayed out of the way of Quantum of Solace at British multiplexes this past weekend, which looks to have been a wise move:

1. Quantum of Solace: £9.2 million (2nd week; drops 40%)
2. High School Musical 3: Senior Year: £1.5 million (3rd week; drops 45%)
3. Ghost Town: £.71 million (3rd week; drops 9%)
4. Saw V: £.49 million (3rd week; drops 48%)
5. Pride and Glory: £.39 million (NEW)
It’s no surprise that Bond continues to dominate among British audiences — though Charles Gant at the Guardian Fillm Blog, in his now-regular weekly look at the British box office, compares Solace’s performance with that of Casino Royale two years ago and suspects it will not outstrip its predecessor in the long term, despite its killer opening weekend.

The real story this weekend looks like Ghost Town: a drop of only 9 percent in its third week? That is absolutely astonishing, and backs up my supposition of last week that Ricky Gervais is simply more beloved in the U.K. than he is in the U.S. (I suspect mainstream audiences here don’t know his name at all, actually.)

New release W. just missed edging into the top 5: it was right below Pride and Glory at No. 6, earning £.37 million. I wonder if British audiences felt this was anticlimactic, now that Barack Obama has been elected president, or if it was really just the Bond steamroller that keeps attendance down. Perhaps the film is an instant period piece.

Mamma Mia! finally dropped out of the U.K. top 10 this weekend, after 18 weeks in release and £67.6 million in earnings. That’s only slightly less than what the film earned in North America, where it’s been in release for 16 weeks. (Worldwide, it’s earned more than half a billion bucks.)

I’m still keeping an eye on the per-screen averages, which continue the trend I’ve been noting: that wide, mainstream releases do better in this respect than arthouse releases, which is the opposite of how things usually play out in North America. This week’s numbers:

1. Quantum of Solace: £17,046 at each of 541 cinemas
2. The Dark Knight: £5,048 (4 cinemas)
3. HSM3: £3,231 (470 cinemas)
4. Let’s Talk About the Rain: £2,331 (18 cinemas)
5. Ghost Town: £2,109 (339 cinemas)
6. OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies: £2,082 (2 cinemas)

I dunno where The Dark Knight came from all of a sudden again, but it was up 114 percent over last week. Still, it can’t beat Mamma Mia!’s haul: the Batman has taken in only £48.6 million in its 16 weeks of release.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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