U.K. box office: ‘Fame’ hangs strong

A quick look at last weekend’s numbers as we head into a new weekend:

1. Fame: £1.8 million (2nd week; drops 25%)
2. The Invention of Lying: £1.7 million (NEW)
3. Toy Story 3D: £1.4 million (NEW)
4. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: £1.1 million (3rd week; drops 20%)
5. Surrogates: £.6 (2nd week; drops 38%)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
Looks like Ricky Gervais is much more beloved in his homeland than he is in the U.S…. or else The Invention of Lying was promoted better in the U.K. than it was here. (I saw the ads on the sides of buses when I was in England — and I wasn’t impressed with them, so we may have to eliminate the better-marketing possibility.) The U.K. opening was hugely better than the pathetic North American debut, where it just squeaked into the top 5 with takings of $7 million; we might have expected a U.K. debut of around £700,000, then.

Gervais couldn’t overtake Fame, however, which is absolutely tanking in North America (although it was so cheap to make that it will easily turn a profit, and maybe that’s all that matters). I’d appreciate it if some of my U.K. readers could explain what is so much more appealing about the film to you than it is to audiences here.

The Toy Story rerelease is working a little differently in the U.K. than it is in North America, where we’re getting both films for one admission for two weeks; in the U.K., according to Charles Gant at the Guardian Film blog, it was Toy Story in 3D on its own last weekend, and then Toy Story 2 in 3D will follow in the near future. I dunno what that’s all about, either…

Somebody had the clever idea to cover up the stink of Nia Vardalos’s My Life in Ruins by changing the title for its U.K. release to Driving Aphrodite, but it didn’t work. The flick opened to a rockbottom £21,116 at 102 theaters, for a per-screen average of £207. Ouch. (For comparison’s sake, Toy Story, on 251 screens, had the best per-screen of the weekend, at £5,559; Fame, playing at 460 cinemas, could muster only £3,883 on each of its screens.)

Overall business was up 17 percent over the same weekend last year: the slump currently bringing down the North American box office isn’t hitting the U.K., at least not yet.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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