UK box office January 4-6 (Blog)

Category: P.S. I Love You News | Posted by: DaisyMay
Article Date: January 8, 2008 | Publication: myfilmsblog.co.uk | Author: Staff
Publication/Article Link:myfilmsblog.co.uk

National newspaper critics may have dubbed it PS I Hate You, but PS I Love You has defied its detractors with a sensational opening in the UK of £1.79 million. Considering lead actors Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler hardly guarantee big box office, the result is a tribute to an aggressive marketing campaign, an attractive poster image, the popularity of Cecelia Ahernís novel of the same name and perhaps most of all the perfect release date: January 4, with no other chick-flick in the market competing for eyeballs, and no other significant new release that week. Trailers and TV ads emphasised the romantic comedy genre (ďfrom the producer of The Devil Wears Prada) and savvily omitted to communicate that Butlerís character dies from a terminal illness in the opening reel. PS I Love You opened in Ireland on 21 December, and has already taken £1 million in Ahernís home country, bringing the filmís total so far to £2.77 million.

Second-highest new entry, at number 10, is Ang Leeís Lust, Caution, with a robust £241,000 from 49 cinemas, for a screen average just below £5,000. The WWII espionage thriller has done gangbusters business in China (where the highly erotic sex scenes have been censored), Taiwan and Hong Kong, but has disappointed in the US, especially in comparison to the success there of Leeís last film Brokeback Mountain ($5 million, as against $83 million). Backers Universal Focus will have been encouraged by this opening figure to hope that UK audiences will prove significantly less-resistant to the subtitled film than cinemagoers in the US.

With a lack of wide new releases, existing films in the market held steady. Will Smith blockbuster I Am Legend predictably held on to the top spot, and has now taken a whopping £18.47 million. Enchanted held on to third place, with a total so far of £13.81 million. St Trinianís stayed at number four, and has now grossed £7.71 million with a £10 million total in its sights. St Trinianís experienced the gentlest decline (23%) of any film in the top five.

Afghanistan-set drama The Kite Runner expanded from 130 to 194 screens, and saw its box-office increase by 41%, as long as previews are excluded from the previous weekendís tally (as they should be when making like-for-like comparisons). Thatís a good result for Paramount, especially for a subtitled film with no major stars. With £1.22million already in the bank after just two weeks, The Kite Runner is set to be one of the major subtitled films of 2008. The bump in box office, albeit supported by a screen expansion, suggests positive audience word-of-mouth and successful penetration of smaller markets that donít always line up for foreign-language fare.

All other new releases were small. The Cannes Palme DíOr winner 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days sneak-previewed at two screens in London and took £7,800. With newspapers holding their (sure-to-be-glowing) reviews until this week, many cinemagoers didnít realise the Romanian abortion drama was already playing in London. Look out for a rise in takings when the film opens nationwide in key cities from Friday.

Next among new entrants was the reissue of Wim Wendersí 1974 film Alice In The Cities, which took a healthy £5,800 at the BFI Southbank in London. Mexican drama El Violin took £1,400 sharing a single screen (early-evening showings only) at Londonís Renoir cinema. Kurdish film Half Moon took £1,100 at Londonís Institute Of Contemporary Arts.

With such few new films opening, the frame couldnít match the previous weekend when I Am Legendís stonking debut powered the top 15 to £21.8 million. But this weekendís combined haul of £13.3 million still compares favourably (10% up) with the equivalent weekend from 2007, when Night At The Museum, Miss Potter and Apocalypto topped the chart. This Friday, Charlie Wilsonís War and Dan In Real Life enter the fray, and in the specialist sector Sidney Lumet's indie thriller Before The Devil Knows Youíre Dead faces off against the regional expansion of 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days. Log on here in a weekís time to see how those battles pan out.