Shrek rules at European B.O

Ogre opens to strong numbers in Spain and Germany

BERLIN — “Shrek the Third” continued to work its magic on the European box office over the weekend, with muscular bows in Spain and Germany while continuing to do boffo biz in Gaul.

In Spain, the latest installment in Disney’s ogre franchise grossed $7.3 million from 684. Pic was well below the all-time first-weekend record set by “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” five weeks ago, but it enjoyed an impressive per-screen average of $10,662 off 684.

“It went as we expected,” said one local exhib, adding confidently that “Shrek” would have longer legs than “Pirates.”

Two local films have also animated Spanish auds: Jaime Marques’ delinquency drama “Thieves” looks set to follow the success of Felix Viscarret’s “Under the Stars,” one of the only Spanish films this year to perform well at the box office. “Thieves” grossed $301,058 from 160, while “Stars” fell 44% in its second week, pulling in $167,271 towards a $537,385 cume.

Both titles have registered upbeat specialty-pic results, but celebrations of the St. John summer solstice throughout Spain may have dented overall B.O. figures by keeping masses of regular moviegoers on the streets and at open-air dances.

In Germany, “Shrek” enjoyed the third best opening of the year after “At World’s End” and “Spider-Man 3.”

While pic’s strong bow helped boost the local box office by more than 50%, its $7.8 million opening gross from 861 was below that of “Shrek 2,” which raked in $9.8 million in its first weekend in July 2004.

Holding on to number two was “Ocean’s Thirteen,” which managed $2.2 million in its third frame on its way to a $10.8 million cume.

“At World’s End” is still attracting sizeable auds, taking in a further $1.9 million for a total of $52.7 million.

While the three Hollywood tentpoles gobbled up most of the box office pie, Universal’s British laffer “Hot Fuzz” and X Verleih’s comedy-drama “Irina Palm” continued to generate good box office business despite the massive competition.

“Hot Fuzz” dropped 40% to $460,703 on its way to a $1.4 million cume, while “Irina Palm” dropped only 24% to $359,874 towards a total of $984,480.

“Shrek” remains a big-screen colossus in Gaul. Appealing to tykes and older auds alike, pic has made an amazing $21 million-plus million after two frames for Paramount on 850.

Warner Bros. is also well pleased with the perf of “Ocean’s Thirteen,” which made over $4.3 million in five days on 755. Both are rolling over the competition in the brief, traditionally slow pre-summer period for major new releases in France.

Meanwhile, “At World’s End,” down 39% on the week, has cumed over $40 million after five frames for BVI on 701.

“Conversations with My Gardener” has been a winner for StudioCanal. The whimsical laffer toplining Jean-Pierre Darroussin and Daniel Auteuil has earned over $5.5 million on 530 after three frames. And $870,000 after five days on 227 was good enough to make mutant splatfest “The Hills Have Eyes 2” the second best opener of the week for Fox.

There was no “Shrek” to magnetize moviegoers in Italy where record-breaking heat had the beaches bustling and box office dropped 39% compared with the previous frame.

“Silver Surfer” easily won the weekend pulling $1.4 million on 579 which reps a 56% drop in its soph sesh and makes for a $6 million running cume.

“Ocean’s Thirteen” came in second in its third frame, dropping 54% for $409,000 on 349 and cuming $5.6 million in Italy to date.

The Italo frame’s biggest opener, gritty horror pic “Hostel: Part II,” out on 252 via Sony, failed to scare up much biz – $418,000 on 240 – in the third spot.

Spanish epic “Alatriste,” the other prominent debut, pulled a mere $265,000 on 212 via Medusa.

Gallic laffer “Priceless,” toplining Audrey Tautou, opened flat with $100,000 on 105 via Eagle Pictures, while Curtis Hanson’s “Lucky You,” toplining Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore, debuted even flatter, grossing $81,000 on 110 via Warner Bros.

On a brighter note, Cannes Critic’s Week winner “XXY” copped a $2,530

per screen average, making the hermaphrodite drama by Argentine helmer Lucia Puenzo the opener with the Italo frame’s highest per-screen average.

The U.K. box office, meanwhile, continued to be dominated by big budget sequels as “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” held on to the top spot for the second week running. Fox’s superhero actioner saw its cume drop by a less than fantastic 46% to take a weekend haul of $4.5 million. “Fantastic Four” has banked a total of $15.8 million so far.

In the second spot, “Ocean’s Thirteen” upped its total cume by a respectable $2.8 million to bring its three week gross to $19.2 million, with a solid drop of only 34% helped by generally kind reviews and good word of mouth.

In third place “At World’s End” increased its lead as Blighty’s biggest hit of the year to date by plundering a further $1.93 million to bring its total treasure chest to $75.9 million.

Gallic fare also fared solidly, with Icon’s Edith Piaf biopic “La Vie En Rose” debuting in sixth place with polite applause overweighing the critical sniffling to bring in $411,398 on the back of a good screen average of $7,092. Revolver’s thriller “Tell No One” also remained a hit with arthouse auds, holding on well in its second week of release with only a 12% drop and a total cume of $888,331.

Elsewhere, Indian film “Jhoom Barabar Jhoom” saw its stellar Bollywood cast of Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta keep it in the UK top ten for the second week running with a weekend haul of $246,119, bringing its total cume to an all-dancing $1 million.

Optimum’s chiller “Captivity” debuted with a less than thrilling $658,538 to take the fourth spot.

Additional reporting by Emilio Mayorga (Spain), Nick Vivarelli (Italy), David Hayhurst (France) and Ali Jaafar (U.K.).

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