Fox pic continues to do boffo biz in soph sesh

LONDON — Driven by glowing word of mouth and the massive media hype, “Borat” continues to do boffo biz in Europe.

In its sensational soph sesh in Blighty the mockumentary slipped just 15%, taking $8,624,368 at 430 for a screen average of $20,056. Delighted Brit bookers admit they would have been “more than satisfied” with a soph drop-off of 35% given the huge opening frame.

Bookers report that repeat visits helped boost the holdover. Theater managers observe that “Borat” cinemagoers are getting older as young auds, who are already fans of the Borat character, encourage older auds to buy a ticket.

The outrageous laffer, which re-ceived strong reviews from the high-brow U.K. critics, has now raced to $27,129,547 in just 11 days on release.

“Borat” rose 18% in Germany to $3.1 million at 313 with 78 added engagements in its soph sesh.

Pic has grossed $42.8 million internationally with Spain and France still to come.

German laffer “7 Dwarves: The Forest Is Not Enough” held top spot for the third weekend running with $3,187,989 at 822. The UIP release has scored almost $19 million in Germany.

Anthony Minghella’s London-set drama “Breaking and Entering” could not find much traction in its opening frame on home turf. The pic took $697,661 at 228, which landed it seventh spot in the U.K. charts.

The Jude Law-starrer was not helped by mixed reviews. The Guardian reviewer Peter Bradshaw’s verdict that the pic is “flawed but complex and ambitious” was shared by most.

The above-expectations bow for Warner Bros.’ “The Prestige” — $2,265,710 at 228 including previews — cannibalized “Breaking and Entering” business.

Brit romantic comedy “Starter For Ten” took $396,443 at 84 for 11th spot. The promising screen average of $4,718, which trailed only “Borat” and “The Prestige” ($9,936), bodes well for Icon’s planned soph sesh expansion of the James McAvoy starrer.

Bookers attribute the strong “Starter” start to the “genuine date movie appeal” and the very strong reviews. “The brightest Brit comedy of the year,” enthused Johnny Vaughan in the Sun tabloid.

Hot young Brit thesp Benedict Cumberbatch’s scene-stealing supporting role as a geeky student came in for special praise from reviewers.

Working Title comedy “Sixty Six” is fading fast. Following its lackluster bow, the pic dipped 25% in its second frame en route to a disappointing $1,275,086 gross in its first 10 days. Bookers never had particularly high hopes for the comedy.

Mirroring its strong perf in the U.K., horror pic “Saw III” opened boldly in Spain with $3.1 million at 300, which was 230% better than the “Saw II” Spanish launch. Horror fare usually works well in Spain and BVI’s bullish campaign certainly paid off.

Milos Forman’s “Goya’s Ghosts” underperformed in its Spanish opening, taking $802,532 at 361. Exhibs point to audience fatigue with historical dramas as cause for the soft bow. Bookers report that word of mouth is not that positive and are not predicting a long run for “Ghosts.”

Gallic pics “Prete-moi ta main” and “Ne le dis a personne” followed up on their strong bows last weekend with solid second frame takings. Multiplying the admissions figures by the average ticket price of $6.38, “Prete-moi ta main” took $3,839,841 at 527 and “Ne le dis a personne” scored $3,292,245 at 469. The homegrown pics dipped 36% and 31% respectively to easily hold the top two spots.

But local toon “Azur and Asmar” is fading fast. Michel Ocelot’s pic fell 54% in its third frame. The film was expected to have a fairly long life expectancy in the top 10.

Box office biz remains very flat in Italy, where total takings slipped 12%. Box office receipts have hardly picked up this autumn from the traditional late summer slow-down.

Bookers had hoped the bows of UIP’s Owen Wilson comedy “You, Me and Dupree” ($1.1 million at 197) and Clint Eastwood’s “Flags of Our Fathers” ($584,000 at 212) would re-ignite biz but neither did bumper trade.

The top Italian debut was the Paolo Sorrentino-helmed “The Family Friend,” about a loan shark. Debuting on 161 screens, the Medusa pic ranked number 11, drawing a disappointing $309,000 – about half what local bookers had hoped for.

Many months after its Cannes Film Festival triumph in May, Ken Loach’s Irish civil war drama “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” opened in seventh spot in Italy. The political pic took $418,000 at 122, which was a solid result considering Italo bookers report that distrib BIM gave it only a gentle push and that Loach does not have a firm fanbase in Italy.

Additional reporting by Christian Koehl (Germany), Esther de Prado (Spain), Liza Klaussmann (France) and Bernhard Warner (Italy).

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