U.K. box office: No one can beat ‘Alice’

Though newcomers give it a good shot:

1. Alice in Wonderland: £7.2 million (2nd week; drops 30%)
2. Shutter Island: £2.3 million (NEW)
3. Green Zone: £2.1 million (NEW)
4. Avatar: £.64 million
5. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale: £.44 million (NEW)

(actual numbers, not estimates)
Just as in North America, nothing could come close to knocking Alice off her block, though Green Zone had a comparably better debut in the U.K.. With a bow of $14.3 million in the U.S. and Canada, we might have expected to see it earn around £1.4 million this past weekend, and it did quite a bit better than that.

This is weird: Hachi skipped right over a theatrical release in North America and went straight to DVD [Amazon U.S.] [Amazon Canada], and is also available in the U.S. from Amazon on Demand. Lots of movies open theatrically in some countries and not others, but this one is directed by Lasse Hallström and stars Richard Gere and Joan Allen and an adorable dog… and it still goes straight to DVD? Weird.

Just outside the top 5 at No. 6, the Swedish thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo earned a healthy £.38 million, and on far fewer screens than any of the top 5 films. Its per-screen average puts it above Avatar and Hachi, in fact — arthouse releases rarely do that well in the U.K., where the wide-release, mainstream films typically dominate on a per-screen basis as well as the absolute one.

The Crazies (at No. 8), Leap Year (No. 11), and From Paris with Love (No. 13), all dropped precipitously in their third weeks, 63, 55, and 70 percent, respectively. And yet, the overall box office was up 42 percent over the same weekend last year (which is similar to the jump in North America, too), thanks to Alice.

Someday we will look back at late 2009 and early 2010 and either celebrate it or curse it as the moment when 3D got its toehold, depending on whether it leads to truly immersive cinema experiences, or to truly pointless and gimmicky ones. At the very least, we’re guaranteed a short-term ride through the pointless gimmicky ones.

[numbers via UK Film Council]

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