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DISTRIBUTION USA

United 93 second in the US

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Releasing the first film on the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US was a bit of a gamble for United 93 [+see also:
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director Paul Greengrass, Top UK production company Working Title and Hollywood studio Universal Pictures. But last weekend’s opening figures proved them all right: the film came in second after the Robin Williams vehicle RV, grossing $11.6m (€9.2m) from 1,795 screens and scoring the best screen average of the top ten titles ($6,462 /€5,134 per screen).

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Following its April 25 world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, United 93 received widespread praise from US film critics, including the influential Roger Ebert, who said, “this is a masterful and heartbreaking film and it does honour to the memory of the victims”, while his colleague at The New Yorker, David Denby, wrote: “Paul Greengrass’ movie is tightly wrapped, minutely drawn, and, no matter how frightening, superbly precise”.

For Nikki Rocco, Universal Pictures’ president of domestic theatrical distribution, the excellent figures show that US audiences were ready for such a film: “This is a wonderful result. What [the American public] said was that it wasn’t too soon for a film about September 11”. According to post-screening analysis released by the studio, married couples accounted for just over half of the film’s audience and 71% of viewers were 30 and older.

The film was produced by Working Title Films, StudioCanal Plus, Universal Pictures and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment for €12m, and Universal said that 10% of the gross from the opening weekend would be donated to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania. United 93 will have a special screening during the upcoming Cannes Film Festival (May 17-27) and will be released in the UK by UIP on September 1.

The next film to deal with 9/11, Oliver Stone’s Word Trade Center starring Nick Cage, will open next in the UK on September 29.

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