Auds read ‘Manual’

Italos smitten by 'Love'; 'Hitch' woos B.O.

Italians love to laugh and “Love Manual” gave auds and exhibs something to smile about last weekend after a mirthless few months at the B.O.

Comic/tragic take on romance from hit producer Aurelio De Laurentiis and helmer Giovanni Veronesi easily took the top spot last weekend, minting $3.7 million on 482 prints. Auds were drawn to the all-star cast, headed by Carlo Verdone, Silvio Muccino (“Remember Me”), multiple Davide di Donatello film award-winner Margherita Buy and Sergio Rubini (“The Passion of the Christ”), and its riffs on love, crisis, betrayal and abandonment.

The producers claim the pic is in the style of Dino Risi and Ettore Scola comedies, which blend odd personalities, their experiences and the city of Rome.

‘Unfortunate’ opening

“Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” didn’t resonate with Italians, earning just $605,000 on 157 screens; the Jim Carrey vehicle has grossed a tidy $72.6 million, with Japan ahead.

“Love Manual” deflated “Hitch,” which plunged by 49% in its soph session in Italy, ringing up a nonetheless swell $4.8 million so far.

The champ overseas for the third straight weekend, “Hitch” fetched $22.7 million from 5,000 playdates in 46 markets, hoisting cume to $98.1 million. Will Smith starrer reigned in France (collaring $4.4 million) and Malaysia but was beaten by “The Ring Two” in Turkey, and it retained pole position in its third sojourns in Germany, Austria and Australia.

‘Robots’ buzz

“Robots” generated $16.4 million from debuts in 24 markets and holdovers in six, spurring its cume to $20.9 million. Fox’s CGI toon was No. 1 in the U.K. (minting $5 million, including sneaks), Spain ($1.9 million), Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Chile, Colombia and the Philippines.

But the kidpic took a tame $2.3 million in Germany (dwarfed by “Ice Age’s” $7.6 million preem), and it trailed the second weekend of “Constantine” in Brazil and rookie “Ring Two” in Norway.

The “Ring” sequel scared up a terrif $2.1 million in Mexico plus $666,000 in Turkey, $430,000 in Holland, $380,000 in Greece, $326,000 in Norway and $320,000 in Sweden.

Winding its tour, “National Treasure” triumphed in Japan, notching $3.7 million, and China with $1.2 million (the latter marking BVI’s second biggest debut locally, behind “Pearl Harbor”), and its cume vaulted to $153.9 million.

‘Aviator’ stays airborne

Checking other cumes, “The Aviator” climbed to a hair below $100 million and has plenty of blue sky as it takes off Saturday in Japan. “Constantine” hit $98.7 million, boosted by the U.K.’s handy $4 million bow, including sneaks; “Million Dollar Baby” topped $52 million; “Hide and Seek” advanced to $47.8 million; and “Sideways” reached $29.4 million.

Among the also-rans, “Hostage” captured a mediocre $1.1 million in Germany and a lousy $468,000 in Italy; the Bruce Willis starrer dropped by a mild 30% in Blighty, collaring a fair $3.6 million in 10 days.

“Be Cool” wasn’t in Belgium or Hungary, “Boogeyman” scared off folks in Germany and “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie” began meekly in the U.K., Mexico, Spain and Italy but might make a bit of honey, ah, money, during the Easter and school vacations.

(Sheri Jennings in Rome contributed to this report.)

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