U.K. box office: ‘Valentine’s Day’ dethrones ‘Avatar’

Though not by much:

1. Valentine’s Day: £3.7 million (NEW)
2. Avatar: £3.3 million
3. The Wolfman: £2.4 million (NEW)
4. The Princess and the Frog: £1.504 million (2nd week in wide release; drops 32%)
5. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief: £1.502 million (NEW)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
It was a huge opening for Valentine’s Day in the U.K., but not as big as it was in North America: a comparable U.K. debut would have been around £6.3 million. Still, it was big enough to knock Avatar off the top spot at the U.K. box office for the first time… though the James Cameron film dropped only 24 percent over its ninth weekend, and has now passed a £75 million. That’s much better, on a relative basis, than the $666 million cumulative take of the film after last weekend in North America.

The real story of the weekend is the No. 6 debut of My Name Is Khan, which opened on only 91 screens yet took in £.936 million, for a per-screen average of £10,291 — better than Valentine’s Day (£8,640 at each of 432 venues) and Avatar (£8,251/402 venues). (It’s the biggest U.K. opening ever for a Bollywood flick, according to Charles Gant at the Guardian’s Film blog.) And the second big story is the No. 8 debut of A Single Man, which opened on 79 screens yet took in £.502 million, for a per-screen average of £6,355. That’s better than Wolfman (£5,861/404 venues), Princess (£3,004/501 venues), and Percy Jackson (£3,310/454 venues). From what I’ve seen since I started looking at the British box office, it’s very rare that arthouse films garner better per-screen averages than the wide releases (exactly the opposite of what we often see in North America).

Overall business was down four percent over the same weekend last year, though it was up a whopping 24 percent over last weekend, and this weekend was the third busiest of the last 52 weeks. How long can this continue? Maybe until the weather outside is nicer than the weather inside…

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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