U.K. box office: ‘Role Models’ sets an excellent example

I had a little email exchange this week with a representative of the UK Film Council, who explained to me why the U.K. box office numbers aren’t made public till midweek (as I discussed last week). Turns out it’s a matter of paying customers getting first crack at the numbers on Monday. I am not, of course, a paying customer, so I have to wait till the numbers get their public release.

So now that we little people can be told, here’s what happened last weekend at British cinemas:

1. Role Models: £2.3 million (NEW)
2. Slumdog Millionaire: £1.8 million (NEW)
3. Bride Wars: £1.7 million (NEW)
4. Defiance: £1.2 million (NEW)
5. Yes Man: £1 million (3rd week; drops 53%)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
Just as in North America, this past weekend in the U.K. was huge, moviewise: business was up 27 percent over the same time last year… which is a much bigger boost that the North American box office saw over last year. Then again, apparently the Brits are more pessimistic about the economy than anyone else — including Americans — which could be more evidence for the hardly radical supposition that we’re all looking to drown our sorrows (at least in part) by going to movies.

I’m traveling to London next month and I will be very interested to talk to people and see what the mood on the ground is, and how it compares to the mood here in New York.

Interesting mix of movies in the top 5, too: goofy and serious side by side… and movies that are only in limited release in North America are doing comparatively much better in the U.K. Slumdog Millionaire made only a teeny bit less in the U.K. this weekend than it made in the U.S., even though it was on half as many screens (324 screens in the U.K. is a wide release, and is, propotionately speaking, leaps and bounds beyond the 601 North American screens). Defiance was, on a per-screen basis, the best performing limited release in the U.S. last weekend ($34,092 on each of 2 screens) — we’ll see if it can even match the British release (326 screens) when it expands to 1,500 locations in North America tomorrow.

In other news: The Spirit dropped 82 percent in its second week in U.K. release. Yikes.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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