A SPANISH CAT, A HOST OF HOLLYWOOD STARS, AND A ROGUE PLANET ALL FLOUNDER AT AN UNCERTAIN BRITISH BOX OFFICE
UK punters were clearly not especially in the mood for a bit of Pussy on the side this weekend as a lacklustre three days at the UK box office saw SHREK spin off vehicle PUSS IN BOOTS take the top spot, but struggle nonetheless with a comparatively disappointing haul of £1.9M and an average of £3,839 from 511 sites. Starry romcom NEW YEAR’S EVE fared even poorer, clocking in at third place, with a £1.1M total to have backers yearning for Auld Lang Syne – or more specifically the weekend of 12 Feb 2010, when previous entry VALENTINE’S DAY took a stonking £3.7M. Better days. Meanwhile, resilient hold ARTHUR CHRISTMAS kept on giving with a solid £1.4M in its fifth week, but both lavish Scorsese kids pic HUGO and penguin saga entry HAPPY FEET 2 struggled in their second weeks on just over £700K each.
The only other new entry to make the top ten, hard-edged stoner comedy A VERY HAROLD AND KUMAR CHRISTMAS 3D, scraped in at ninth place. Opening in a limited 135 sites, the film took £182,694 and an average of just £1,384 to suggest its core audience were simply too blazed to actually go to the cinema, and may simply wait for the DVD. Filling out the remainder of the top ten were holds THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART I, MY WEEK WITH MARILYN and THE THING, all slowly diminishing their returns, the latter, a big budget remake, sinking significantly faster in only its second week on a terrible average of £578 from a still epic 313 sites. Sundance buzz-film ANOTHER EARTH meanwhile opened very soft with a lousy £87,240, and an average of just £765 from 116 sites, to have distributor Fox wistfully imagining a parallel world where people actually went to see the film. On a smaller scale, old-fashioned French costumer THE WELL-DIGGER’S DAUGHTER also failed to deliver on the promise of big guns director Daniel Auteil and a popular source novel from Jean De Florette scribe Marcel Pagnol. The film took just £3,659 from nine sites.
Over in the states, the box office slumped to its worst performance of 2011, with the top twenty taking only $72.3M in ticket sales, a figure well below last year’s lowest weekend frame in early September. Both all-star romantic comedy NEW YEAR’S EVE and raunchy Jonah Hill vehicle THE SITTER opened to lacklustre figures at the first and second spot. The former raked in a total of $13.7M, well under the industry-projected $20M, while the latter took $10M and an extremely soft average of $3,636 from its ambitious 2,750 site release. Fourth week hold THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART I dropped 52% in third place with a rapidly diminishing weekend total of $7.9M, while THE MUPPETS in its third weekend held up quite well with $7.1M and a less drastic dip of 36%.
Meanwhile, outlook was significantly less downbeat for two – ironically bleak as hell – small openers and a pair of limited holds. There were Smiley’s all round for UK smash TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY, which took a stonking $301K from just four sites in New York and LA, averaging a spectacular $72,250. This bodes well for the film’s fortunes as it slowly widens in the coming weeks before a mainstream release Dec 23. Charlize Theron’s turn as a boozy former beauty queen in Jason Reitman’s YOUNG ADULT meanwhile took a smashing $320K from eight sites, for a strong $40K average. Award winning silent film hold THE ARTIST grossed an estimated $292K, going from six to 16 sites to scoop a wonderful $18,250 average. And another Weinstein title, SHAME widened from ten to 21 sites and took an estimated $276K and $13,143 average. The NC-17 sexistentialist romp has taken an impressive $774K to date and opens Jan 13 in the UK.
From this Friday, mainstream audiences can enjoy Guy Ritchie’s fast and loose, deer stalker free take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s beloved hero in blockbuster sequel SHERLOCK HOLMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS, while punters who missed out on previews this weekend, can catch up on squeakwel ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS: CHIPWRECKED. At the more independent end of the spectrum, Carol Morley’s high profile, critically divisive shock doc DREAMS OF A LIFE goes out on limited release after a series of sell out previews, while the BFI’s reissue of bonkers musical MEET ME IN ST LOUIS gets a seasonal outing. Clang clang clang went the trolley…