‘Queen’ makes regal bow

Pic pulls in $1,608,338 in U.K. and $805,655 in Italy

LONDON — Boosted by its plaudits a-plenty Venice outing, Stephen Frears’ “The Queen” has bowed solidly in the European theatrical arena, keeping its head held high at home, and drawing blue-blooded B.O. in Italy.

Depiction of the friction between Tony Blair and Britain’s monarch following Princess Diana’s death took the second spot at U.K. wickets behind Yank movie “Talladega Nights” in its opening frame.

Driven by a swathe of five star reviews from U.K. critics and extensive media coverage of its Sept. 13 London premiere — which followed protag Helen Mirren’s Venice acting nod for her role as Queen Elizabeth — pic pulled in $1,608,338 from 347 screens at a well-bred $4,635 screen average, released by Pathe U.K.

Mirren’s perf attracted lavish praise from Brit crix.

“It is brilliantly crafted and acted. Helen Mirren’s performance, gonged at Venice, may be the best blend of impersonation and acting in movie history,” wrote Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times.

In Italy — the only other territory where it has been released — “The Queen” came in third, outperformed only by Hollywood blockbusters “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” in late Italo release, and by “Cars.”

“I’m pretty happy,” enthused Italo distributor Valerio De Paolis.

“After Venice we nearly doubled the number of prints, which was a gamble,” De Paolis revealed, noting that, besides its more congenial arthouse audience, pic has also played with the Italo multiplex crowd.

In Italy pic pulled in $805,655 on 191 screens at a $4,217 screen average, coming in ahead of Italo competish pic Gianni Amelio’s “The Missing Star,” in fourth place.

“The Queen” opens Stateside via Miramax Sept. 30, following its North American preem at the New York Film Festival Sept. 29. Opening dates in other major Euro territories are France (Oct. 18), Spain (Nov. 10) and Germany (early 2007).

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