The B.O. gloom deepened in most of Europe and Australia last week as duds such as “Ladder 49” failed to fire up auds in Italy and Germany, “Elektra” fizzled in Italy and “The Aviator” went into a steep dive in its second flights in France and Italy.
The one bright spot was France, where biz jumped by 26%, driven by several Gallic productions including “Espace detente,” a laffer spun off from “Camera Cafe,” a well-loved TV series about office clowns, and “The Ex-Love of My Life,” based on helmer-writer Josiane Balasko’s stage play. In its world preem in France, “Danny the Dog” (aka “Unleashed”) an action-thriller starring Jet Li and Morgan Freeman, co-written and produced by Luc Besson, collared decent numbers but not as much as exhibs had hoped.
Attesting to thin biz in many markets beneath the top one or two titles, exhibs in Spain griped that rookies “Meet the Fockers” and “Million Dollar Baby” were the only significant contributors. Bookers were thrilled with “Fockers” as one enthused, “A good comedy is the best thing to make us happy,” but were a bit disappointed with Clint Eastwood’s drama, considering the warm reviews, Oscar noms and attractive cast.
The champ overseas for the second consecutive weekend, “Fockers” generated an estimated $17 million from bows in eight territories and holdovers in 20, and its cume through Feb. 8 flew to $87 million. The Jay Roach-helmed laffer eclipsed the preems of “Meet the Parents” in Spain, Taiwan, Sweden, Denmark and Israel, seizing top spot in all except Sweden.
In its second turn in the U.K., the Ben Stiller/Robert De Niro/Dustin Hoffman starrer easily fought off “Ocean’s Twelve,” which cruised in below the expectations of some exhibs, who consider the sequel “far less mainstream” and slower-paced than the original and reckoned it wasn’t helped by the lengthy delay since the domestic debut.
However Warners says the heist caper is positioned to cash in on the school vacation and while it opened 20% below the first edition, that’s in line with “Twelve’s” bows in other markets such as Japan, France and Germany. Steven Soderbergh-helmed pic grabbed a top-ranked $1.1 million in five days in Turkey and its overseas cume hit a lucrative $203.7 million, probably headed for around $240 million.
U.K. grosses slipped by 12% despite a fast start for “Racing Stripes,” which benefited from a strong campaign by distrib Momentum; family pic also opened brightly in Belgium and has reined in a tidy $6.2 million in five weeks in Oz.
“The Aviator” climbed to an estimated $48 million in 27 markets, propelled by its soph sessions in France, Italy and Mexico and its third stanzas in Germany (where it was off just 20%, taking pole position) and Spain. Italo exhibs blamed the Howard Hughes biopic’s 45% drop on auds’ lack of familiarity with Hughes and to “Finding Neverland,” which bowed 15% bigger than “Chicago,” rated as good but not over-the-top.
Bookers in Italy and France expect “Aviator” will get a bump if it nabs a few Oscars. Johnny Depp starrer notched sturdy screen averages as it landed in Argentina and Brazil, and its estimated cume levitated to $28 million in only 15 markets.
“Alexander” advanced to around $122 million after a mid-level debut in Japan, its last major territory. Oliver Stone’s epic has captured a fine $14.5 million in Spain, $11.1 million in Italy and $10.6 million in France, but it bombed in Australia and the U.K.
In Japan, the Macedonian conqueror couldn’t catch “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera,” which reigned again in its second stanza. Tuner’s estimated cume topped $72 million, eclipsing domestic’s $42.9 million, after spirited perfs in the U.K. and South Korea and limp runs in continental Europe, Mexico and Southeast Asia.
“Million Dollar Baby” resonated more strongly in Australia and Greece than in Spain, and it’s racked up a fine $6.5 million in four weeks in Blighty.
“Sideways” delivered impressive numbers on 76 screens in Germany, benefiting from glowing reviews, word of mouth and director Alexander Payne, whose “About Schmidt” enhanced his rep. Fox’s comedy wasn’t as robust in its limited bows in Austria, Poland and Brazil, but sparkled in its soph sessions in the U.K. and Australia; it’s bottled $5.4 million in 18 markets.
German B.O. got no uplift from rookies “Felix,” a local animated kidpic about the adventures of a bunny, “Saw” and “Cellular.” Exhibs said the latter two weren’t appealing enough to persuade folks to part with their money.
One opined, “Going to the theater is a luxury, particularly in these difficult economic times. Give us a blockbuster and the crowds will return.”
Winding its tour, “The Incredibles” drew $1.5 million in six days in Hong Kong, 60% bigger than “Shrek 2” but a fraction below “Toy Story 2’s” record toon entry, and its cume reached $359 million. “Closer” was merely passable as it entered South Korea and Russia, markets that usually don’t respond to talky dramas. Mike Nichols-helmed pic, which clung to top spot in its second outing in Australia, has pocketed an impressive $56.7 million in 33 markets.
(Ed Meza in Berlin, Sheri Jennings in Rome, Archie Thomas in London, Liza Klaussmann in Paris and Norma Nebot in Madrid contributed to this report.)