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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Paul Hayes
Paul Hayes
Fri, Apr 10, 2009 5:38am

I suspect that The Boat That Rocked will die a death in the US. I very much doubt anybody there knows or cares about the pirate radio ships. It’d be like releasing a Doctor Who film there – culturally relevant here, but not in America.

Proper Dave
Fri, Apr 10, 2009 7:20am

I saw ‘The Boat That Rocked’ a few days ago and still haven’t stopped cringing. If Richard Curtis was a musician, he’d be Paul McCartney when the Beatle became a self-indulgent, whimsical hack, living off his stellar reputation.

Fri, Apr 10, 2009 6:13pm

*Boat That Rocked* may well tank with the mainstream American audience. I’m definitely not a part of that, though. :->

But if Proper Dave is right about the film… ugh.

Proper Dave
Fri, Apr 10, 2009 8:12pm

In fairness I should add that just like the most cloying, complacent, sub-par McCartney album, the film does have commendable performances and several moments of brilliance. But they’re outweighed by the bits that make you want to take the one-time creative genius aside and say: “Did none of your collaborators have the balls to point out THIS was crap, and THIS was old hat, and THIS was really cheesy and manipulative?” The Rotten Tomatoes score of 50% reflects my views pretty well, actually.

On a completely different note, I’ll be interested to read your take on the film’s sexism, MaryAnn. Maybe it’s trying to reflect the attitudes of Sixties Man, but there was one scene in particular, involving Nick Frost’s character, that I thought was a gross misjudgement and turned me against the film quite early on.

Der Bruno Stroszek
Der Bruno Stroszek
Sat, Apr 11, 2009 5:06am

The treatment of women is bafflingly… *off*, especially considering the good comic roles for women Curtis has written in the past. Katherine Parkinson’s character in particular, I thought, was used for some very easy and lazy jokes.

The whole thing is really sloppily structured, too – there are lots of references to events and characters who don’t seem to have made the final cut. It does feel a lot like a film whose workprint came in at four hours and went in for major surgery.

But – and it’s a big but – it’s worth seeing once for its excellent soundtrack and the performances. Nighy, Ifans and Chris O’Dowd are particularly dazzling, and it’s a joy seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman just cut loose and goof around. He really should do more comedy.