Crowe starrer gets a good start in Asia

With little new product spanning the globe in the Sept. 16-18 frame, Warner Bros.’ holdover “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” was able to land in the No. 1 spot for the fourth time overseas, stirring its $175 million international pot to date for the studio.

Meantime, Buena Vista’s “Cinderella Man,” the Russell Crowe vehicle that got KO’d Stateside, was able to show some overseas punch.

Pic performed well in Asia, with a $1.8 million launch in Japan and $8.5 million from 3,250 playdates overall. But in Europe, “Cinderella” was mostly on the ropes, with less than stellar returns and auds saying the material lacked originality.

Without any day-and-date product flooding the marketplace, each turf seemed to have its own fave over the weekend as local tastes dictated.

Not surprisingly, along those lines, the veddy British period piece “Pride and Prejudice” performed boldly in Blighty, where B.O. was up 6% from the previous frame and 5% from the same weekend last year.

U.K. biz also benefited from more Hollywood offerings — “The Longest Yard” and “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” — which kept biz buoyant.

Working Title’s “Pride” took top spot in the U.K. with $4.6 million and a healthy per-screen average of $11,533.

Blighty bizzers had forecast an opening weekend closer to $3 million and so were thrilled.

Bookers attributed pic’s success to a strong Brit cast, good reviews and its campaign. They were upbeat, hoping the pic can bring in £20 million on home turf.

Meantime, “Cinderella” followed up a below-par U.K. bow with a 21% soph sesh drop-off. Bookers predict the pugilistic pic will be knocked out of the ring this weekend as cinemas move to accommodate the other pics. “Cinderella” has scored $2.3 million in 10 days in its Blighty run.

“Longest Yard” dipped just 19% in its second weekend, which satisfied exhibs. Most felt the pic was holding well thanks to the appeal of Adam Sandler and little competish for “Yard’s” core aud.

Horror entry “Wolf Creek” managed only to howl to fourth spot in its opening U.K. frame, which was a disappointment.

Consensus was that the pic “plays too harsh” for female multiplex auds despite being an industry fave. Bookers didn’t fault Optimum Releasing’s campaign for “Wolf.” Horror rival “Land of the Dead,” which opens Sept. 23, looks set to drain “Wolf’s” hope to find lifeblood.

Gallic box office was up 15% compared to the week prior, as top pics there delivered strong, if not stellar perfs.

Still at No. 1 in its soph sesh was quirky Bill Murray vehicle “Broken Flowers,” which pocketed another $1.5 million, bringing its total in Gaul to $3.8 million. Film saw ticket sales drop 36% in it second week.

Plucky perf for the Jim Jarmusch pic reflects the helmer’s popularity in France, as well as Gallic love for Murray, following his perf in “Lost in Translation.” “Flowers” also received strong support from crix, a key in attracting French auds.

But “Cinderella Man” in France received poor notices, which hurt its take. Pic fought to just $1 million in its first week and came in at No. 4.

French exhibs added that Crowe and Renee Zellweger are able to attract auds to romantic comedies or blockbusters but not drama there.

Locally, one French pic doing well was “The Perfume of the Lady in Black,” which took the No. 2 spot over the Sept. 16-18 frame, handily beating out “Crash” and “Cinderella.”

Pic is the sequel to Bruno Podalydes’s “The Mystery of the Yellow Room.” Both of the pics are based on thrillers written by Gaston Leroux in the beginning of the 20th century, and Podalydes’ renditions have made them popular with costume-drama-loving Gauls.

“Perfume,” which screened out of competition in Venice, took home $1.19 million in its first frame, bowing on 330 screens.

In Germany, “Cinderella” was also staggered in the opening rounds. Pic looks like it won’t break the $1 million mark there; exhibs felt the film was not unique enough to capture auds’ interest.

However, “Bewitched” did manage to continue to bring in Teutonic coin, dropping just under 20% in receipts. Pic has so far taken in more than $4.5 million for Sony in Germany, where there was little new product to take attention from the Nicole Kidman pic.

Over in Spain, overall B.O. met the previous frame’s level, with $9.5 million overall. But bookers were not satisfied: They had predicted a better start for the fall season.

Anemic returns were partly due to good weather all over Spain. “Weather is not the only thing to blame,” however, said one booker. “I think the movies are underperforming. It’s just that they are not big enough.”

One movie that did work in Spain was Terry Gilliam’s “Brothers Grimm,” which was rolled out there by a local distrib. Pic held onto the No. 2 spot in its soph frame, taking in $3.2 million in two weeks.

“There is no doubt Terry Gilliam is a cult director, although a minority one. (But he has a) cast led by two appealing male stars, Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, and a promotion focused on adventure rather than in the darker side of the movie,” said an exhib.

Gilliam also success in Spain with “The Fisher King” and “Twelve Monkeys.”

Spanish exhibs were also disappointed by “Cinderella’s” perf: It cumed $2.1 million in two weeks, a full $1.1 million less than “Grimm” over the same period on the same number of screens. “Boxing is not a particularly attractive genre for Spanish audiences, especially for females,” said one booker, who added that “Million Dollar Baby” had a poor opening but a good boost after its Oscar attention.

Local Spanish pic “Princesas” is performing well, cuming $3.4 million in three weeks.

In Italy, box office jumped 24% thanks to Fox’s superhero ensemble pic “Fantastic Four.” Pic even managed to take over the No. 1 spot from UIP’s wildly popular tooner “Madagascar.”

After arriving later in Italy than the rest of the globe, “Madasgascar” has saved Italo exhibs from a major B.O. drought that began in January and continued through July.

(Ed Meza in Germany, Liza Klaussmann in France, Sheri Jennings in Italy, Archie Thomas in the U.K. and Esther De Prado in Madrid contributed to this report.)

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