U.K. box office: ‘Avatar’ takes a flying leap up…

…as almost every other movie rakes in piles of dough, too:

1. Avatar: £5.9 million (3rd week; up 55%)
2. Sherlock Holmes: £3.4 million (2nd week; up 12%)
3. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel: £2.5 million (2nd week; drops 54%)
4. Did You Hear About the Morgans?: £1.2 million (NEW)
5. Nine: £.78 million (3rd week; up 190%)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
There was no report of U.K. box office numbers last week, the week between Christmas and New Year’s, so a little bit of guessing is called for. For instance, UK Film Council tells us that overall box office was up 12 percent over “last weekend,” but they don’t say whether that means over the weekend we didn’t get a report for, or over the weekend before that, ie, the last weekend for which we have numbers.

I don’t know how I can be expected to work under such conditions.

Against the same weekend last year, the box office was up 25 percent, so it looks like the same dynamic is at work in the U.K. as has been happening in the U.S. and Canada: for whatever reason — perhaps escaping the miserable hell that our lives have become — everyone is flocking to the movies.

In fact, the trend seems even more pronounced in the U.K. Avatar dropped 9 percent last weekend in North America, which is absolutely phenomenal performance. But it was up a monstrous 55 percent in the U.K. Sherlock Holmes dropped 41 percent in North America, which is still pretty good as things go these days — it was up 12 percent in the U.K. (Only Alvin 2 did worse, relatively speaking, in the U.K., taking a much bigger drop in the U.K. than it took in the U.S. and Canada. The Nine rise of 190 percent looks better than it really is, because it represents an expansion of the film from one screen to 384.)

Outside the top 5, through No. 15, almost every film was up, many hugely. St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold, at No. 6, was up 54 percent. New Moon (No. 9) was up 66 percent. Planet 51 (No. 10) was up 99 percent!

Outside the top 15? The No. 16 film, Fantastic Mr. Fox, was up 740 percent. An Education, at No. 26, was up 148 percent. Bright Star, at No. 29, was up 115 percent. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, at No. 43, was up 215 percent.

The total earnings for the movies outside the top 15 were minimal, but most of them were on fewer screens — some of them far fewer screens — than two weeks ago, which makes those jumps even more amazing.

The multiplexes in Britain must have been even crazier last weekend than they were in the U.S. and Canada.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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