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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

U.K. box office: ‘Fast & Furious’ zooms to first place

They like fast cars in Britain, too:

1. Fast & Furious: £4.9 million (NEW)
2. Monsters vs. Aliens: £2.8 million (2nd week; drops 35%)
3. 17 Again: £2.6 (NEW)
4. The Boat That Rocked: £.97 million (2nd week; drops 47%)
5. Knowing: £.62 million (3rd week; drops 36%)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
When you see an American car on the streets of England, they tend to be the most obnoxious examples of the breed you can imagine: stretch limos, Hummers, and sometimes muscle cars. Maybe only the eyes of an embarrassed American see them like that, though, because it would have taken many fleets of eight-seater gas guzzlers to transport all the folks to the cinemas this past weekend who turned up for Fast & Furious.

Almost £5 million is a monster opening. It’s not a record, but it’s the second biggest opening for the U.K. so far in 2009, behind only Bolt… except Bolt’s official “opening weekend” total of £5,457,438 includes £2,609,304 from previews earlier in the week. F&F made almost £5 million in three days. And if you add in Monday takings — which we should, because Easter Monday is a U.K. bank holiday, the equivalent of a U.S. federal holiday in a lot of ways — the film made a smidge over £6 million (or so says Charles Gant at the Guardian’s Film blog).

Also via Gant: 17 Again got its U.K. release a week before it opens in North America because it didn’t have to compete there with Hannah Montana: The Movie, as the Zac Efron tween dream would have had to do in North America if it had opened here last Friday. (Hannah arrives in the U.K. in a few weeks.) It looks like that was a smart move: £2.6 million puts 17 Again among the bigger openings in the U.K. for the year so far. To do as well in North America, it’ll have to open to the tune of $26 million. Which it might.

Things were not looking so great for another new wide release: Dragonball Evolution debuted way down at No. 9, taking in only £379,777. That’s barely better than another new opener, the Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In, which earned £224,154… which it did from only 68 screens. Dragonball was at 319 cinemas.

Overall, business was up 98 percent over the same weekend last year. Wow.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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