U.K. box office: ‘This Is It’ not so huge

Up is down after Michael Jackson’s arrival at multiplexes:

1. Michael Jackson’s This Is It: £4.9 million (NEW)
2. Up: £3.4 million (4th week; drops 10%)
3. Fantastic Mr. Fox: £1.5 million (2nd week; up 2%)
4. Saw VI: £.94 million (2nd week; drops 46%)
5. Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant: £.54 million (2nd week; drops 32%)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
As in North America, the Michael Jackson doc/almost-concert movie opened well, but hardly as spectacularly as we were warned to expect. In fact, overall business was down 36 percent from the same weekend last year, when the James Bond flick Quantum of Solace opened to record-breaking box office (£15.4 million). This Is It did well for a documentary, but those kinds of qualifiers weren’t supposed to apply to this movie. I think we’ll see it take a sharp drop on both sides of the Atlantic this coming weekend.

Up is down finally, but not much, and it’s edging close to a cumulative take of £30 million in its first four weeks, which would translate to about $300 million; but Up was “only” up to about $226 million at the end of its fourth weekend in North America. So it’s doing even better in the U.K. than it did in the U.S. and Canada.

Who else is doing fantastic? Mr. Fox, up 2 percent over its first weekend. Apparently the kids were on a break from school that ended last weekend, so we might have expected animated movies to do well, but still: Wes Anderson ain’t exactly Walt Disney. The film isn’t inappropriate for kids, but I think adults will appreciate it far more. It’ll be interesting to see how it fares in North America.

The British film An Education debuted down at No. 8 for the week, but it’s better than it sounds: it was at only 93 cinemas, so its take of £399,122 indicates a far better performance, on a per-screen basis, than all but Up and This Is It. And it’s a helluva lot beter than the No. 7 film, 9, which debuted with £468,455… but that was at 300 cinemas.

(Looks like I had some bad info: I thought Bright Star had opened last weekend in the U.K. — in fact, it opens tomorrow. I’ll be curious to see how this one does on its home ground.)

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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