U.K. box office: ‘Four Christmases’ whips Bond’s butt (but ‘Madagascar 2’ whips them all)

Looks like Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon are mightier than James Bond on both sides of the Atlantic:

1. Four Christmases: £2.3 million (NEW)
2. Quantum of Solace: £1.5 million
3. Changeling: £1.2 million (NEW)
4. Body of Lies: £.5 million (2nd week; drops 48%)
5. My Best Friend’s Girl: £.3 million (2nd week; drops 64%)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
Is it just folks getting into the holiday spirit that pushed Four Christmases to the top of the heap in the U.K. as well as in the U.S.? Maybe 007’s exploits just don’t have that yuletide spirit to them.

What’s interesting is that even though this past weekend was not, of course, extended by the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.K., both Christmases and Changeling opened there on Wednesday. According to Charles Gant at the Guardian’s Film blog, this was to give those films some breathing room before the public sneak previews of Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa that hit theaters there on Saturday and Sunday. Since that movie doesn’t officially opening till tomorrow, its taking weren’t officially counted for this weekend. But if they were, it would have edged past Christmases to the top of the ranking: it earned £2.4 million in only two days, while it took Christmases five days — Wednesday though Sunday — to scrap up that £2.3 million.

Ouch: Witherspoon and Vaughn and Bond were beaten up by zoo animals.

Again with the topsy-turvy per-screen averages, compared to how things typically look in North America. The Dark Knight is still hanging on with a deathgrip to U.K. audiences. It earned £5,427 at each of its venues this past weekend, the best per-screen average — although technically it is now a limited release, since it played on only four screens this past weekend. But surely its provenance as one of the summer’s biggest blockbusters is what keeps bringing audiences in. Not far behind was Christmases, earning £5,243 at each of 434 cinemas. If Madagascar 2 had been counted, it would have had a per-screen of £4,678 at each of 513 locations, with Changeling up next with £3,492 at each of 351 cinemas. Per-screens drop of rapidly after that.

That’s very different from how the per-screens looked in the U.S. this weekend, but of course, New York and Los Angeles are, at the moment, getting bombarded with the prestige films out for awards, which will naturally draw big crowds. The U.K. won’t get most of those films till early next year, by which point critics and awards voters will have weighed in on whether these movies live up to the hype. These movies are flying on their promise to earn per-screens of $50,000 or more, which won’t be a factor once they land in the U.K.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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