Best pic Oscar nom could give B.O. bump
As the holiday blockbusters, including the latest “Harry Potter” installment and “King Kong,” began to recede at the international wickets, a more diverse crop of pics began to draw in moviegoers as UIP’s “Munich” took the No. 1 spot abroad.Two Sony pics, “Fun With Dick and Jane” and “Memoirs of a Geisha,” also made impressive showings as family fare dwindled. However, one family pic that continues to stick around is Buena Vista Intl.’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Over the Jan. 27-29 frame, the pic fell to fourth after a potent streak of five No. 1 finishes abroad. Still, the pic managed to take in $14.6 million from 48 territories, bringing its international cume to $365.8 million. U.K. has been one of the pic’s strongest markets — where “Narnia” is the 12th highest grosser of all time. In its eighth Blighty frame, kiddie lit pic managed to grab $1.15 million, taking its total past $75 million there. But it was Steven Spielberg who was able to cast a bigger spell internationally with “Munich.” His sci-fi epic “War of the Worlds” last year brought in $357 million overseas for UIP. Without the mass appeal of “War,” the more overtly political “Munich” was not a massive breakout for the distrib this time. But it still managed to rule a moderate frame by taking in just under $15 million in less than 30 markets. Key scores came in France, the U.K., Germany and Spain. But France was the only No. 1 bow, and takes did not meet Spielberg’s historically stellar track record. Pic’s Blighty bow of $2.1 million wasn’t enough to beat Jim Carrey vehicle “Dick and Jane,” which ran up to a near $7 million cume in its second frame. Rounding out the top five in the U.K., after “Dick” and “Munich,” were Warner Bros.’ “Rumor Has It,” “Entertainment’s “Brokeback Mountain” and BVI’s “Geisha.” Still, “Munich” could get a bump from its best pic Oscar nom this week. And the film suffered from some unfavorably wintry weather across Europe. In France, “Munich” pocketed $2.7 million in its bow — a bit of letdown for exhibs, given Spielberg’s rep and the pic’s Paris locations. In other Gallic action, BAC’s “Hoodwinked” continued the trend of family fare clicking abroad, even past the holidays. CG pic stole the No. 3 spot just after French entry “Je vous trouve tres beau,” which has amassed almost $9 million in just two weeks in of release on 413 screens. “Brokeback,” released by Pathe in France, saw a slight drop in its second frame, with sales falling 18%. Pic took home a respectable $14.5 million, averaging $5,704 for each of its 255 screens. In Germany, “Munich” was no match for BVI’s CG-animated “Chicken Little,” which pecked its way to theaters and helped boost B.O. revs by 8.6% from the previous week. “Munich’s” No. 2 spot was the weakest opening of a Spielberg pic in Germany since 1998’s “Amistad.” “‘Chicken’ may not have been as successful as Pixar’s big hits, but the film attracted plenty of tyke business,” said one Teutonic exhib. “There isn’t too much out there for kids, so children’s films like these usually do quite well.” Exhib added that “Munich” “has attracted a lot of attention thanks to wide media coverage and a lot of positive reviews,” but that “it’s not for everyone, since many people want to escape the reality of the war and terrorism they see nightly on the news.” Only other opener in Germany was Constantin’s supernatural thriller “The Dark,” which opened at No. 8. Stormy Spain’s B.O. was actually helped by inclement weather as winter travelers were prohibited from leaving town. “Geisha” took the No. 1 spot in Spain for the second straight frame, only dropping 14% to take in $2.3 million. Pic has cumed $5.8 million in 10 days, and Spanish bookers are now worried that the pic’s luck may change because of a lack of Oscar noms. Surprisingly, Fox comedy “Big Momma’s House 2″ came in second in Spain, making $2 million in its bow. “Munich” followed behind, with $1.7 million from 218 prints. Bookers were disappointed, but pointed to the pic’s long running time and adult themes as stumbling blocks for a wider breakout. Italo B.O. dropped 11%. Asian biz was buoyed by a number of local pics, including “Fearless,” a martial arts epic billed as superstar Jet Li’s last. Pic cleaned up in China and Taiwan for BVI, where it scored $1.39 million in its first four days. In Japan, local actioner “Yamato” and “Wow Choten Hotel” took over after “Harry Potter” finally slowed down. The local contingent was also given a hand by “The Professor and His Beloved Equation” and Zhang Yimou’s Chinese-Japanese co-prod “Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles.” Ed Meza in Germany, Sheri Jennings in Italy, Liza Klaussmann in France, Patrick Frater in Hong Kong and Esther de Prado in Spain contributed to this report.