‘Flightplan’ cruises ahead of ‘Potter’ push

Jodie Foster pic's cume hits roughly $60 million

In advance of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” taking the international B.O. scene by storm, Buena Vista Intl.’s “Flightplan” was able to fly high, taking the No. 1 spot overseas, with $15.2 million from 39 territories over the Nov. 11-13 frame.

Cume has now hit roughly $60 million for the Jodie Foster pic, which has seen happy landings in Germany, Italy, France and Australia.

But with “Potter” set to begin to weave its spell for Warner Bros., any competish will likely take a nose dive.

In the U.K. alone, exhibs are gearing up for a better than $20 million three-day bow for “Harry.”

After showing signs of life, U.K. biz was down 5% from the previous frame, and down 49% as compared with the same weekend last year when “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” swept the territory.

But Blighty’s bookers were still very pleased to see four pics — Fox’s “In Her Shoes,” UIP’s “Nanny McPhee,” “Wallace & Grommit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit” and “The Constant Gardener” top $1 million.

This year’s U.K. biz remains off 4% from 2004, but hopes are high that “Potter” and other holiday blockbusters can save the day.

After trying on a ho-hum U.S. run, “In Her Shoes” took the top U.K. spot in its opening frame, and the strong bow was 20% above expectations. Exhibs attribute success to a lack of competing female-skewed fare, and the efforts of Diaz and Colette to tubthump in the U.K. “Shoes” should prove good counter-programming to “Potter” in the coming weeks.

“Constant Gardener” also opened 20% over expectations. The firm fest fave scored winning reviews and was helped by its splashy London Film Festival preem, Oct. 19. The cerebral pic played best in upmarket locales, but also reaped coin at the plexes. Bookers attribute its success to the Brit cast and the fact that there have been few quality pics for adult auds out there.

Warner Bros.’ “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” was the only other opener in the top 10. Although acknowledging that the Joel Silver pic was “a tough sell due to the lack of a big-name cast,” bookers are satisfied with its perf, which was a touch over expectations.

“Nanny” continued its phenomenal run dipping just 21% in its fourth frame. Bookers are “over the moon” with the perf — with one saying, “it was always likely to top £10 million ($17.2 million) but to have done £14,550,208 ($25 million) as of Nov. 14 is simply fantastic.” But “Nanny” will be hit hard by the “Potter” bow.

UIP’s “Wallace & Gromit” also continued to scare up more than it had figured to. Continuing its powerful run, the Nick Park pic dipped just 31%.

After recent social unrest in France, ticket sales were up 44% as compared with the week prior. Biz has escaped unscathed by the riots.

“We’re talking about trouble spots,” says one Paris-based exhib of the unrest. “To read the foreign press, you’d think the whole country was some kind of war zone.”

Coming in at No. 1 in Gaul was “Sky Fighters,” a locally produced “Top Gun”-meets-“James Bond” pastiche, which took home $3.9 million in its first week for distrib Pathe.

Coming up next was another Gallic pic, “Merry Christmas,” which is the country’s foreign-lingo Oscar contender. WWI pic grossed $3.8 million in its first week.

Down Under, Aussie biz was tracking below last year’s results, as local horror pic “Wolf Creek” dipped 30% after its No. 1 bow last frame. “Flightplan” replaced “Creek” in the top spot in Oz, bowing at $1.6 million. “Kiss Kiss” sucked wind in Australia, opening in the fifth slot.

Germany’s B.O. remained calm, prior to what should be “Harry Potter’s” gathering storm. Lack of major new fare resulted in an 11% slide from the previous week, and a 52% plunge of last year’s B.O. in the same period when local comedy hit “Seven Dwarfs” reigned at the top of the charts.

“In Her Shoes” opened at No. 1 one in Germany, knocking off “Flightplan.” ” ‘Shoes’ drew a big female crowd,” says one booker. “Cameron Diaz is a popular and likable star, and Curtis Hanson has a strong track record.”

“Four Brothers” had less luck with Teutonic auds. Pic opened in seventh with $550,000 from 124 screens.

In Spain, B.O. was boosted 4% from the previous frame, taking in $11.5 million overall. “Flightplan” topped the Spanish chart, with $2.8 million during its maiden voyage.

Spain also saw a good hold for “The Legend of Zorro,” which was down 36% over its third weekend. Ranking third, Woody Allen’s “Match Point” held up impressively, and “Constant Gardener,” bookers predict, may have good legs.

Italo B.O. dipped 17% as compared to the previous frame’s results, and 21% drop from last year’s heights.

Ed Meza in Germany, Liza Klaussmann in France, Archie Thomas in the U.K., Esther de Prado in Spain, Sheri Jennings in Italy and Michaela Boland in Australia contributed to this report.

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