There’s been a lot of hoopla about The Dark Knight’s staggering box office performance on both sides of the pond, but the real surprise hit of the year has to be Mamma Mia! (2008), another studio-backed British film riding high in the charts, which has helped Universal amass box office earnings of over $1 billion in record time.
According to the latest UK weekend box office figures (for 22-24 August), Mamma Mia! was playing at 510 sites even after 7 weeks, which is more than any other release including The Dark Knight (still going strong after 5 weeks on release). The film posted a very respectable site average of £3,603 compared with The Dark Knight’s £3,306.
In fact Mamma Mia! has earned more than any other picture this year in the UK, amassing an impressive box office haul of £50.3 million, and is on course to overtake The Full Monty’s final tally of £52.2 million (at 1997 prices).
Like Titanic (1997) before it, Mamma Mia! has proved it has legs, pulling in nearly £2 million in its seventh week on release. It could even challenge Casino Royale’s recent chart-topping performance at the UK box office (£55.5 million in 2006). That said it, it still has a long way to go before it trouble's Titanic's box office crown (James Cameron's water bound weepie made £69 million in the UK at 1998 prices).
As Mamma Mia! is officially recognised as a UK/USA inward investment feature its box office takings contribute to the annual market share of UK productions, a figure that will also be buoyed by the strong performance of other inward investment features like The Dark Knight and forthcoming Bond flick Quantum of Solace. This will no doubt reignite the debate about what qualifies as a UK film when the market share figures are published next year.
(With thanks to Sean Perkins for inspiring this post)