U.K. box office: ‘Fame’ opens big

It might not live forever, but still, wow:

1. Fame: £2.4 million (NEW)
2. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs: £1.4 million (2nd week; drops 11%)
3. Surrogates: £.96 (NEW)
4. District 9: £.56 million (4th week; drops 31%)
5. The Soloist: £.37 million (NEW)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
Being here in the U.K. this week has made me think more about the differences between how some movies play in the U.K. versus how they play in North America. Like Fame, for instance, which did — on a relative basis — about two and a half times the business in Britain as it did in the U.S. and Canada, where it opened with $10 million (a comparable U.K. opening would have been, then, £1). Why? I don’t have the answer, of course, but there are some possibilities: The Brits just like musical movies better, maybe, seeing as how Mamma Mia! was so huge here (although that probably due more to the ABBA factor than anything else).

Actually, that’s about the only possibility I can think of, and it’s not a very satisfying one. The mix of movies is about the same here in the U.K. at the moment as it is in North America — in fact, the same three movies are in the top 3 on both sides of the Atlantic, just in different positions and in different ratios. (In the U.K., the No. 2 Cloudy did about 60 percent of the business of Fame; in North America, it took in 250 percent of Fame’s box office.) The kids are back to school in both places; movies cost about the same as they do in New York and Los Angeles, if not as much as in the American ’burbs; the non-theatrical-movie entertaiment options are similar (video games, DVDs, Internet, etc.).

I don’t get it. Clearly more trips to the U.K. to investigate are in order.

One trend I have noticed in the U.K. since I started watching the box office is that grownup movies tend to be somewhat more tolerated here than they are at home. But not this week. The lovely Soloist can only be said to have crashed and burned with that abysmal opening, and the Charles Darwin movie Creation debuted way down at No. 10, taking in a smidge under £200,000, which is simply terrible. I’m not sure what that means, either, but it doesn’t bode well for the prospect of movies for anyone beyond their teens.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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