U.K. box office: ‘Monsters vs. Aliens’ invades Britain

Ahhh! It’s a giant 3D movie!

1. Monsters vs. Aliens: £4.3 million (NEW)
2. The Boat That Rocked: £1.8 million (NEW)
3. Knowing: £.97 million (2nd week; drops 61%)
4. Marley & Me: £.82 million (4th week; drops 51%)
5. The Haunting in Connecticut: £.75 million (2nd week; drops 33%)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
I saw the ranking, and I was all, What the heck is this Boat That Rocked thing that the kids are into over there? Turns out it’s a new Richard Curtis comedy about a 1960s pirate radio station that’ll be released in August in the U.S. — and man, that cast: Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans, Kenneth Branagh, January Jones, Nick Frost, Jack Davenport! Sounds awesome.

Or maybe not. Charles Gant at the Guardian informs us that this is a poor showing compared to Curtis’s previous films, such as Love Actually, oh, and also that it hasn’t really gotten good reviews.

I don’t care — I’ll watch Bill Nighy in anything. (I’ll post the trailer next week.)

Gant also notes that Monsters vs. Aliens didn’t do quite as well as it might have:

DreamWorks Animation’s head honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg will take comfort from the fact that the 178 (including seven Imax) screens showing the film in 3D took more cash than the 465 regular 2D sites. Hollywood’s most prominent evangelist for 3D will nevertheless regret that not more UK cinemas had been converted to the technology in time. Monsters Vs Aliens’ result suffers slightly in comparison with February’s Bolt (£2.85m in three days, and £5.46m including more extensive previews), but with two whole weeks of Easter holidays ahead of it the film has plenty of time to overtake the Disney hit.

DreamWorks Animation’s twin 2008 hits – Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa – both opened in excess of £6m, including previews. The weaker result for Monsters Vs Aliens could reflect a transitional moment where consumers know they should see the film in 3D, but may have lacked a local venue with seats available at a convenient time. If this theory is correct, cinemagoers would rather book ahead for a 3D viewing opportunity than settle for a 2D one right here, right now.

Still, overall business is up 42 percent over last year, even if the first big hit of 2009 for North America — Paul Blart: Mall Cop — doesn’t look to replicate that extraordinary run in the U.K.: it dropped to No. 6 this week. It was still at No. 2 in the U.S. in its third week.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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