UK had the hottest Easter weekend box office in 62 years, with Universal’s Fast Five grossing $8.8 million (£5,332,096) in its opening weekend – the biggest debut to date for the franchise — to become Britain’s No. 1 film. The UK opening was also the biggest of the Fast franchise to date, surpassing the £4.92M of the previous fourth installment Fast & Furious. Opening across 437 UK sites, it delivered an average of £12,201 per screen and beat competition from Warner Bros’ Arthur, starring Brit lead Russell Brand (in third place after Fox’s Rio in second). Elsewhere internationally, including previews (up to and including Sunday), Fast Five’s opening also fared well across Australia ($10.3M — the biggest-ever Universal opening) Korea ($3.4M) and New Zealand ($870K). Overall, up to and including Monday April 25, the film took a total of $27.8M across the four territories — and was No. 1 for all four markets. Like Rio and Thor recently, Fast Five opened first overseas. It releases in North America this Friday.
So says Rupert Gavin, CEO of Odeon & UCI Cinemas, speaking on BBC radio. Odeon is spending £70 million ($107 million) converting screens to digital. Odeon expects to have 500 digital projects installed by the end of summer, with Cats & Dogs and Step Up 3 still to come on 3D.
Odeon’s also holding a 3D live fashion show for Ozwald Boeteng at its flagship Leicester Square site in September. Sashaying up and down the catwalk will be beamed live to other cinemas in Paris, Milan and Tokyo. I’ve always felt a bit sceptical when I hear multiplex operators tub-thumping cinemas as conference venues but live 3D does sound innovative. I’m guessing those 3D sunglasses look enough like Wayfarers to satisfy the fashionistas.
That’s a rise of 3% year-on-year. And the best is yet to come this month and next, with the release of Toy Story 3 – tipped to be the biggest movie of the year – adult must-see Inception and Twi-hard threequel Twilight: Eclipse. Around 25 million people are expected to go to the cinema in July and August alone, says trade body Film Distributors’ Association.
But the movie marketplace continues to grow, creating headaches for distributors. Overcrowding is the biggest problem facing the industry. Distributors released 288 titles between January and June, 18 more than in the first six months of 2009. Producers complain that movies are pushed off screens before they’ve had a chance.