U.K. box office: ‘Up’ still up

It’s all those balloons holding it aloft:

1. Up: £3.8 million (3rd week; drops 26%)
2. Saw VI: £1.7 million (NEW)
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox: £1.5 million (NEW)
4. Couples Retreat: £.93 million (2nd week; drops 49%)
5. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant: £.798 million (NEW)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
Up had edged close to a cumulative U.K. take of £20 million by the end of last weekend, and will have certainly already have passed that as we head into this weekend. Oh, those crazy Pixar kids, making movies with mass appeal and genuine emotion! Who knew making successful movies could be so simple?

Fantastic Mr. Fox won’t open in North America for a couple weeks still, and it’ll get only a limited release in New York and Los Angeles — hard to believe, but Wes Anderson’s biggest opener so far, number-of-screens-wise, was his first film, Bottle Rocket, which debuted on 28 screens; next is The Royal Tenenbaums, on five; his other films all opened on just two screens. Anyway: the point is, Fox cannot possible open to $15 million, which would be what we might expect for North America based on the U.K. performance, were it to open wide here. Even if it goes as wide as Rushmore, The Darjeeling Limited, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou eventually did, it won’t come anywhere near, comparably speaking, to its 481 locations in the U.K. That’s almost as wide as a movie gets there (only Up was on more screens this past weekend), so it’d have to play at more than 3,000 locations, probably, to have a similar spread. That’s three times as many as an Anderson film has ever seen in the U.S. and Canada.

Why is Wes Anderson more popular in the U.K.? Or was it just the local connection with Roald Dahl, upon whose book Fox is based, that warranted a wide release for the film in the U.K.? (I can’t get historical info on the British box office, so I can’t tell how wide, or how limited, Anderson’s previous films went.)

Ignominous crashes: both in their third weekends, Halloween II and Love Happens fell, respectively, 72 and 78 percent. Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus held pretty strong in its second week, dropped only 32 percent (though it clocked in at No. 6 overall, its per-screen average was better than Cirque du Freak’s). It’s hard to imagine Parnassus going as wide in North America when it opens here on Christmas Day; it looks to be limited to New York and Los Angeles, at least at first.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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Der Bruno Stroszek
Der Bruno Stroszek
Fri, Oct 30, 2009 5:32pm

My impression of Wes Anderson’s popularity in the UK is pretty much the same as what I’m led to believe his popularity is like in the US; vigorously championed by some, passionately loathed by others.

I think the success of The Fantastic Mr. Fox (which, from memory, is greater than any of his films has achieved in a first weekend in the UK) is largely down to the Roald Dahl factor (I’ve heard a lot of people express interest in the film for this reason), but also perhaps because family films in general just seem to sell more tickets these days. Perhaps this is because Toy Story broke the informal taboo on adults enjoying children’s films, meaning that these movies can expect patronage from all age groups.

Sat, Oct 31, 2009 2:56pm

It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s been half term this week, so family films were bound to do better than usual.

But I think ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ particularly appeals to a UK audience that grew up in the 70s and 80s (who will be the majority of people with young children now) because the animation style is reminiscent of the kind of stop motion we grew up with on tv at the time (The Wind in the Willows, Bagpuss, The Flumps, etc). And, of course, Dahl was at his peak then also.