Pic added $26 million to o'seas take during frame

UIP’s “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” continued to scare up some serious coin on the international B.O. scene over the Oct. 14-16 frame by adding 12 markets to its distrib pattern, including the U.K.

Pic piled on nearly $26 million to its overseas take during the frame, and has passed the $40 million mark internationally.

“Wallace” goosed Blighty biz — up by 136% from the previous frame — with the Aardman ani pic taking in $16.5 million.

UIP’s “Wallace” rollout also brought in almost $3 million from France, and more than $2 million from Germany where the pic finished in the top spot.

Holding steady just behind “Wallace” overseas was another family hit, Warner Bros.’ “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” The UIP comedy “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” slid into third place.

Thanks to “Wallace,” B.O. in Blighty was up 5% compared with the same weekend last year. Uptick came just as U.K. exhibs are feeling upbeat about prospects for the fall and holiday sessions: Unlike other Euro turf, there is a distinct possibility that this year’s biz can match 2004’s returns in the U.K.

Driven primarily by “Charlie,” U.K. biz is off just 4% (EDI) from last year, and exhibs are forecasting as much as $70 million for the next pic in the “Harry Potter” franchise, and another $60 million-plus for both “King Kong” and “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” which will receive its world preem Dec. 7 at London’s Royal Albert Hall.

“Wallace” opened about 25% over U.K. bookers’ estimates, building on a healthy $5 million in previews. Pic took $11 million in its opening frame. Bookers attribute the success to positive reviews, the aud’s fondness for the property and UIP’s campaign. Lack of competish helped as well.

Given the boffo bow, bizzers predict “Wallace” will pass both “Shark Tale” and “Madagascar,” which each raked in about $40 million in the U.K. However, few feel “Wallace” can match “Chicken Run’s” $52 million feeding frenzy.

In other U.K. biz, Nicolas Cage vehicle “Lord of War” took the second spot behind “Wallace.” Pic was warmly reviewed, and stoutly supported by distrib Momentum, but suffered from opening on the same day as Kiera Knightley-starrer “Domino.” Both pics were going for the same demos, and both were down on expectations.

“Domino” was particularly disappointing. One U.K. exhib suggested that, “Brit audiences don’t want to see ‘English rose’ Knightley in that sort of ‘butch’ role.” Reviews were negative.

Local pic “Kinky Boots,” a transgender comedy from Miramax, held admirably, slipping just 19% in its soph frame. Bookers report word of mouth is solid. “Due to the risque subject matter, ‘Kinky Boots’ was always going to be a word-of-mouth movie,” says one booker.

Also notable was David Cronenberg’s New Line release “A History of Violence,” which has scored in the U.K., and could reach the $7 million mark there.

Gallic B.O. was also buoyed by “Wallace.” Biz spiked 21% compared with the previous sesh, thanks to the “Wallace” bow as well as a good perf from “The Brothers Grimm,” which held well in its soph frame.

Even so, French admissions were down 30% compared with the same period in 2004, illustrating the overall weakness of the market there.

“Wallace” pocketed $2.8 million in its first week in France, a strong bow, but below expectations. Pic opened on 570 screens.

Coming in at No. 2, “Grimm” held well, seeing admissions fall 35%, which marks an average drop.

Local Gallic fare, including Coline Serreau’s “Saint Jacques … La Mecque,” which came in at No. 3, is still filling the gaps in the soft box office.

“Jacques” took home $1.5 million in its first frame, bowing on 420 screens.

Looking ahead, French exhibs are hoping the coming week will bring more coin their way with “Corpse Bride” and “Oliver Twist” both opening.

“Wallace” won’t hit Italy until early next year, and despite the highly anticipated opening of Roberto Benigni’s new “The Tiger and the Snow,” released on 900 screens through 01 Distribution, Italo B.O. still dipped 17% from the prior sesh. The falloff was due to a number of theaters shutting their doors in reaction to Premier Berlusconi’s proposed tax cuts to the arts. Benigni himself was among those who protested the cuts in a march on the nation’s capital.

“Tiger,” about a poet traveling to Iraq, took in E3.1 million ($3.7 million) in its opening frame in Italy.

“I am sure that Benigni’s film is about 40% under expectations,” says one Italo exhib. “It might go up this weekend, but I am not sure how it can recuperate.” Another exhib lamented losing out on the money the pic would have brought in under normal circumstances.

B.O. also dropped in Spain, by 22% as compared to the previous frame, after a 10% dip the previous weekend. Those drops came after the biggest box office opening ever in the territory, however, for the smash “Torrente 3.”

“Torrente’s” opening created a B.O. surge of 89% three weeks ago. “Wallace” did not have such an easy time with Spaniards, cuming about $2.9 million in 10 days.

Other disappointments in the territory, according to bookers, are “Wedding Crashers” and “Transporter 2,” which saw “Torrente” steal much of its thunder.

(Sheri Jennings in Italy, Esther de Prado in Spain, Archie Thomas in the U.K. and Liza Klaussmann in France contributed to this report.)

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