U.K. box office: Prawns wash up in London; ‘District 9’ a hit

But not as big a hit as it was in North America:

1. District 9: £2.28 million (NEW)
2. The Final Destination: £1.98 million (2nd week; drops 45%)
3. 500 Days of Summer: £1.24 million (NEW)
4. Inglourious Basterds: £.76 million (3rd week; drops 40%)
5. Funny People: £.59 million (2nd week; drops 41%)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
With D9’s opening in the U.S. and Canada of $37 million, we might have expected to see a British opening of around £3.7 million. Still, £2.3 million is pretty respectable for a movie with no stars from an unknown filmmaker. Could be the difference is a matter of the fact that the kids have gone back to school now in the U.K. — which was not the case when the film opened in North America in early August — or that some of the anticipation was doused by the reviews coming out of the U.S. and Canada. Not that those reviews haven’t been almost universally glowing, just that those who weren’t quite sure what the movie was about but were willing to give it a chance changed their minds once they did learn more about it.

And yet look at 500 Days of Summer, which opened at 316 cinemas, definitely a wide release. The film opened on only 27 screens in North America back in July — a tiny release — and didn’t even approach being a wide release until its fourth week of release. It’s done very well in North America, having earned $28.5 million by the end of last weekend, its eight weekend. But it did almost half as much business, comparatively speaking, in just its first weekend in the U.K. Of course, that was built partly on the North American word of mouth, too. Still, it’s interesting to contemplate what the film might have done had it opened wide on its first weekend in the U.S. and Canada.

Milestones: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince passed £50 million over its eighth weekend in the U.K., which would be comparable to $500 million in North America. As of this past weekend, it was just a smidge under $300 million.

Overall business down 5 percent over the same weekend last year, continuing the recent trend of the British box office being softer than the North American one.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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