The UK saw a quartet of hugely successful openings this week from an eclectic mix of titles. A low budget horror; a documentary about a highly competitive US spelling competition; a computer animated fish tale; and a rip-roaring rampage of revenge sought out audiences in different sectors of the market and helped the UK/Ireland box office to a 37% rise over the same weekend last year (when UIP opened Red Dragon).
Showing strength on the arthouse circuit was Spellbound, a US documentary about spelling-bees, state and national competitions in which schools pitch their students against each other in a highly competitive and pressured war of words. Distributed by Metrodome on just 13 prints the film opened in 15th place with a powerful $96,225 (£57,735) launch for a location average of $7,402.
As previously reported Buena Vista International (BVI) enjoyed a great weekend which saw the distribution major hold seven films in the UK/Ireland top 20. These were led by the massive launch of hit animated film, Finding Nemo. Released wide on over 900 prints at 453 sites (BVI's biggest ever release in the territory) after a single week digital platform releases at two locations the underwater adventure grossed $12.3m (£7.4m) over the weekend. To date it has grossed $12.7m (£7.6m).
Also on BVI's slate was the platform release, at one screen at UCI's flagship the Empire Leicester Square, of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 1. With a $218,402 (£131,041) weekend take - and $271,528 (£162,917) taken since its launch on Thursday Oct 9 - the ultra-violent martial-arts action title set a house record for the main (1,330 seater) screen at the Empire. Kill Bill Volume 1 goes wide this Friday (Oct 17).
Horror film Cabin Fever proved a good pick-up for Redbus which paid £120,000 for it at the Toronto Film Festival and grossed nearly nine times that in the film's first three days on release. Including previews the film grossed $1.8m (£1.1m) from 277 sites for third place on the chart.
Despite mixed reviews and less than dynamic start 20th Century Fox's romantic comedy Down With Love dropped off just 27% in its second week, a testament to the drawing power of stars Ewan McGregor and Renee Zellweger.
Home grown hit Calendar Girls continues to play well. The comedy drama slipped 30% this weekend - its fifth on wide release - and has grossed $24.8m (£14.9m) to date.