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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

U.K. box office: hamsters can’t beat Harry Potter

Okay, I know they’re guinea pigs, but that doesn’t alliterate with the boy wizard:

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: £2.9 million (3rd week; drops 44%)
2. G-Force: £2.5 million (NEW)
3. The Taking of Pelham 123: £1.8 million (NEW)
4. The Proposal: £1.5 million (2nd week; drops 54%)
5. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs: £1.1 million

(actual numbers, not estimates)
Half-Blood Prince continues to do much better in the U.K. than in North America: it’s dropping less precipitously and its cumulative take so far of £40.5 million should translate into a $450 million in North America, yet it’s only just passed $250 million. Plus, it was able to hold off the onslaught of G-Force, which it was not able to do in the U.S. and Canada.

Pelham 123 opened more poorly than it did in North America — we might have expected something in the neighborhood of £2.3 million for its U.K. debut. Ditto Land of the Lost, which just opened last weekend in the U.K. but couldn’t crack the top 5: it clocked in at No. 6, earning a paltry £.64 million, about third, on a relative basis, as it debuted to in the U.S. and Canada.

Overall business is down 20 percent over the same weekend last year — it seems the box office is cooling in the U.K., too, just as it is in North America. But among the limited U.K. releases, Coco Before Chanel had one of the best openings ever for a foreign-language film, according to Charles Gant at the Guardian Film blog. He compares its performance to other French films of recent vintage — such as A Very Long Engagement and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly — in a way that suggests to me that we’re looking at an early contender for Oscar love and critics’ best-of lists in the film. The upcoming autumn North American release date suggests that Sony Classics is hoping for precisely that. (I featured the trailer yesterday, if you want to take a peek.)

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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