U.K. box office: ‘Avatar’ leads a ridiculously strong weekend…

…over which the “worst performing” movies merely didn’t drop at all:

1. Avatar: £5.5 million
2. Sherlock Holmes: £2 million (4th week; drops 0%)
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel: £1.4 million (4th week; up 26%)
4. It’s Complicated: £1.3 million (2nd week; up 18%)
5. Up in the Air: £1.3 million (NEW)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
What the heck was up in the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland last weekend? We had a federal holiday on the Monday to explain the big bump in the box office last weekend, but it was a regular ol’ three-dayer over there. Look: Avatar was up 16 percent in its fifth week. The other holdovers in the top 5 were also up, except Sherlock Holmes, which was flat: that is, it did not drop at all. Overall, business was up 22 percent over the previous weekend, and up 10 percent over the same weekend last year.

Charles Gant at the Guardian’s Film blog suggests that it might have something to do with pent-up demand left over from the weekend prior, when really bad weather kept moviegoers home. That doesn’t explain why The Book of Eli opened so poorly: down at No. 6, taking in £1.2 million (versus more than $38 million in the U.S. and Canada). Of course, the similar The Road had opened only the week before (that bad-weather weekend) and in a much wider release (comparatively speaking) than it ever got in North America. Gant notes, too, that Denzel Washington simply isn’t a draw in the U.K. like he is in North America, nor are religious-themed films.

Another poor opener: All About Steve, the Sandra Bullock disaster, debuted way down at No. 11, with paltry earnings of £275,083.

Daybreakers, in its second week, held better than it did in North America, dropping only 40 percent. In total, though, it’s on a par with its North American performance (£2.7 million versus $24.4 million).

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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