UK cinema-goers gave a hero's welcome to the release of the Sam Mendes-directed American Beauty when it opened on 23 prints over the weekend. The limited London release pulled in £425,558 ($687,700), registering a blistering £18,503 ($29,900) screen average. The three times Golden Globe winner widens to over 300 sites across the country this Friday, in competition with only Warner Bros' new release House On Haunted Hill after substantial shifts in release dates from other major openers.
A platform launch is a favourite release technique for distributors with films already running with hype before they hit the UK screens; for example award winners, key animations or hot local films. It was the method used for the UK release of The Blair Witch Project and, as a result, the spookfest scored an unprecedented screen average of over $30,000 on 36 screens. The next platform release is Toy Story 2 which opens exclusively this Friday (via Texas Instruments' digital cinema projector) at the Odeon Leicester Square and Oscar hopeful The End Of The Affair gets a platform release on Feb 11.
Despite mixed reviews the blueprint Hollywood thriller Double Jeopardy snagged the number one spot from Sleepy Hollow which fell 36% to number three. Angela's Ashes held over impressively at number two in the top 10 chart and has now scooped £5m ($8.1m) after 17 days.
Starring Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones, Double Jeopardy grossed £1.3m ($2.1m) from 361 sites over the three days (Jan 28-30) and was the only film to take more than £1m over the weekend. Judd, whose latest film Eye Of The Beholder has just opened at number one in the US, stepped into the role of a woman wrongly accused of her husband's murder after Jodie Foster reportedly pulled out. Directed by the Australian film-maker Bruce Beresford, the UK is the first European territory to release Jeopardy. Beresford's greatest success at the box office to date is 1989's Driving Miss Daisy.