‘Click,’ ‘WTC,’ ‘Hoodwinked’ lift U.K. B.O.

Biz up 20% on the same weekend last year

LONDON — Punchy bows from “Click,” “World Trade Center” and “Hoodwinked” — which all outperformed the expectations of bookers — breathed new life into the U.K. box office after weeks of sickly biz.

Overall biz was up 49% on last weekend and up 20% on the same weekend last year. The fresh product was aided by colder, rainy weather over the weekend that encouraged cinemagoing.

Adam Sandler-starrer “Click” landed top spot with $3,394,886 at 402 screens. The $8,441 screen average was significantly higher than any other pic in the top 15 charts.

Bookers are delighted with the “fabulous” result and credit Sony with a “good campaign that targeted the audience profile expertly.”

Sandler touched down in Blighty to beat the drum and appeared on BBC One’s “Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.”

Sony release “Click” was given lit-tle love by the U.K. critics, who are not big fans of Sandler. Johnny Vaughan in the Sun tabloid branded “Click” “shockingly unfunny” and a “complete turn-off.”

Assisted by hefty previews of $765,408, Momentum’s CGI kiddie pic “Hoodwinked” claimed second spot with $333,503 from 433 engagements. The pic benefited from the fact that the only other film appealing to children is the fast-falling “Little Man,” which dipped 50% in its fifth frame.

Bookers report the boffo “Hoodwinked” bow was a best-ever result for Momentum and credit the indie for its biggest ever outdoor campaign.

Bookers feel the positive result bodes well for CGI pic “Open Season,” which previews this weekend.

UIP’s “World Trade Center” made a strong impression in its U.K. debut with $3,149,863 at 411. Bookers were divided on its prospects before release — “it was so hard to tell if audiences are fatigued by examinations of Sept. 11,” said one — but all are more than satisfied with the robust bow.

The pic was top of the charts on Friday and Monday and displaying word of mouth far better than the reviews, which were mixed at best.

Comparing Stone’s film unfavorably with Paul Greengrass’ hard-hitting Sept. 11 examination “United 93,” U.K. critics lamented Stone’s tentative approach. “While I wouldn’t wish for a film that reeked of conspiracy theories and overwrought plotting, the fact that the entire picture is resolutely apolitical makes for an uncharacteristically cautious Oliver Stone movie,” wrote Wendy Ide in the Times.

Financial Times reviewer Nigel Andrews was blunter, labeling WTC a “pygmy movie trying to measure up to a Promethean event.”

But it was not only the three big openers — all at least 20% up on exhibs’ expectations — which powered biz in Blighty.

UIP’s “Children of Men” followed up on its strong bow with an impressive soph drop of only 25% and Pathe’s “The Queen” held even firmer — dropping just 12% in its third frame. Bookers are delighted with the legs displayed by “The Queen,” which has now scored $8,146,797.

The Helen Mirren-starrer lost just 1% of its screens this weekend but will do well to hold screens with “The Departed” and “The Devil Wears Prada” opening this weekend.

Despite the rising stock of Brit thesp Ashley Walters, UIP’s gritty urban hip-hop pic “Life and Lyrics” could not find much traction outside the predictably receptive downtown theaters. The pic managed just $180,773 at 70, which placed it 12th. Bookers blame “unhelpful” reviews.

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