U.K. box office: ‘Alice’ pummels ‘Avatar’

Everything’s gonna be 3D from now on:

1. Alice in Wonderland: £10.6 million (NEW)
2. Avatar: £.91 million
3. The Crazies: £.67 million (2nd week; drops 44%)
4. The Lovely Bones: £.66 million (3rd week; drops 45%)
5. The Princess and the Frog: £.38 million

(actual numbers, not estimates)
Just as it did in North America, Alice in Wonderland broke records in the U.K., too: biggest March opening ever and biggest 3D opening ever, according to Charles Gant at the Guardian’s Film Blog. Avatar’s huge drop of 60 percent, after a long run with very small drops, is thanks to Alice, which stole most of its 3D screens.

(A commenter at that Guardian post says that he had to purchase separately his 3D glasses at a cinema in Edinburgh, even after paying a premium at the box office for 3D. Does that happen a lot in the U.K.? We pay more for 3D showings in the U.S. — and presumably in Canada, too — but then we at least get to borrow the 3D glasses for free.)

Perhaps the fact that The Crazies fell only 44 percent in its second week even with Alice opening — which is much better than the 56 percent drop it took in North America — and The Lovely Bones fell only 45 percent (in its third week there; it’s all but disappeared from North American multiplexes, where it’s been playing for 13 weeks), means that Alice’s hold on the imagination of audiences isn’t quite as strong as it might be. This coming weekend’s performance of Alice will tell the tale, perhaps. (From Paris with Love, outside the top 5, also dropped only 45 percent in its second weekend.)

Legion, another new release, couldn’t manage better than a debut at No. 11, taking in £.21 million, though it was on only 135 screens, versus 533 for Alice, which is about as wide as a release get in the U.K. Per-screen-wise, Legion’s average of over £1,500 put it solidly in a range of the other wide releases, at least under Alice, with its per-screen of £19,803.

Here’s a figure that the UK Film Council regularly reports that I’ve never mentioned before: the UK share of the gross of the top 15 films. This weekend, it was 0. Zero percent. None of the top 15 films in the U.K. had any financial involvement from the U.K. Now, that doesn’t mean that there were no British faces onscreen in the 15 biggest films this past weekend: Alice’s Helena Bonham Carter is English; the Percy Jackson flick at No. 7 features lots of British actors; and The Lovely Bones and From Paris with Love feature stars from the Republic of Ireland in Saoirse Ronan and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. (Yes, I know that the Republic of Ireland is not part of the U.K., but box-office figures from that country are included in the UK Film Council figures.) That number is about where the money comes to produce those films. I’m not sure if many Americans can conceive of a pop culture environment in which much of what is on offer comes from other countries. I being astonished and delighted when I was in Paris two years ago how the pop music on the radio was only half French, at best: much of the rest was American and Canadian. But that was the case with popular movies last weekend in the U.K.

I’m not sure how I’d feel if all of the top movies available to me at the multiplex were foreign productions, even if the featured a few token American faces. I probably would be a little peeved.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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