Film's box office suffers

Leading U.K. exhib chain Odeon emerged from the spat with Sony over its decision not to screen “Rambo” relatively unscathed. But the pic’s B.O. took a beating.

The testosterone fuelled Sylvester Stallone sequel banked $2.5 million at 354 locations. Although the screen average of $6,924 was not embarrassing, the opening result was not enough to topple “Jumper” from top spot. The sci-fi actioner landed $3 million this weekend in its soph sesh for an $11.6 million running cume.

Had Odeon played “Rambo,” rival bookers predict the pic could have banked a further $600,000 and taken first place in the charts.

Sony were bloodied but unbowed following the encounter. “We are very pleased with the opening weekend figure,” said Peter Taylor, m.d., Sony Pictures Releasing U.K.

Odeon’s decision to do without “Rambo” – due to undisclosed “commercial reasons” – saw the chain’s three-day total B.O. grosses for all films dip 13% on the previous weekend. But there were also dropoffs of 8% for Vue and 9% for Cineworld, suggesting not that many auds migrated from Odeon to other chains to see “Rambo.”

“Our attendance for the weekend was only marginally lower than our original forecast due to the decision not to play `Rambo,’ ” an Odeon spokesperson said. “We estimate that over 60% of the attendance shortfall was mitigated by the growth in Odeon market share on other films.”

Exhibition sources confirm that Odeon and Sony fell out last week over a rentals dispute. “Basically Sony saw `Rambo’ as more of a blockbuster than Odeon did, and tried to impose blockbuster terms, whereas Odeon saw it as more commercially challenging – a violent 18 with bad reviews – and wouldn’t accept those terms,” an exhibber said.

The U.K. “Rambo” bow compared unfavorably with the launch of “Rocky Balboa,” which took $7.2 million at 405 on its opening weekend last year. That result was the best ever result for a Stallone film in the territory.

Pathe’s “Be Kind, Rewind” made the most of the “Rambo” spat, racing to an opening of $2.7 million at just 366 (including previews of $413,244). Punchy bow by Michel Gondry’s quirky pic was significantly above industry expectations.

Yank indie “Juno” – out via Fox – continues to show good legs in Blighty. The Ellen Page starrer dipped just 20% in its third frame for a $13.4 million total.

Other awards contenders held well on Oscars weekend. Daniel Day Lewis starrer “There Will Be Blood” dropped off just 6% from 16% more locations in its third frame for a $3.4 million total for Disney. And the Coen Brothers’ “No Country for Old Men” also benefited from the Academy Award exposure, dipping just 17% in its sixth frame for an $11.3 million cume via Par.

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