'Volver' scores best opening of helmer's recent pics

Pedro Almodovar’s Penelope Cruz starrer “Volver” grossed E1.7 million ($2.2 million) in Spain in its first weekend off 223 copies, with four more theaters still to declare takings Tuesday. Result was by far the best for any of the helmer’s recent films.

“Bad Education,” by comparison, opened to $1.5 million off 158.

Longtime Almodovar distrib Warner Bros. is handling the film in Spain.

Exec producer Agustin Almodovar said pic will play off an early April Almodovar tribute in Paris and a possible screening in competition at Cannes in May.

Set in Madrid and a village much like Almodovar’s birthplace, the film reprises the rites and superstitions of rural life through the eyes of three generations of females: a dead but hardly departed grandmother (Carmen Maura), a sassy mother (Penelope Cruz) and her young daughter.

Almodovar’s films normally split Spanish critics straight down the middle, but “Volver” received overwhelmingly positive reviews.

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