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Spidey set to rule again in Europe

Zombies offer resistance in U.K.

LONDON — “Spider-Man 3” should reel in big numbers in its soph sesh at the Euro B.O. this weekend.

In the U.K., the Sony webslinger faces competish from Fox’s zombie thriller “28 Weeks Later.” The followup to Danny Boyle’s “28 Days Later,” which did $82 million worldwide, world preemed in London on April 26 and has been generating strong buzz.

Bookers are upbeat about prospects for the Juan Carlos Fresnadillo-helmed pic. “Awareness is high and it has a lot going for it. If it can achieve a £1.5 million ($3 million) opening it can make £4.5 million ($9 million) as there is little competition other than ‘Spider-Man 3’ until ‘Pirates 3’ opens on May 24.”

“28 Weeks Later,” which is exec produced by the architects of the original pic — Danny Boyle and Alex Garland, has received mostly supportive reviews.

“Fresnadillo cleverly adopts the iconic images — spectacular shots of deserted London streets — and the kinetic tics that made Boyle’s film such an instant smash. But the plot is porridge,” wrote James Christopher in The Times.

Brit bookers expect “Spider-Man 3” to drop off considerably this weekend but still expect it to finish up ahead of the two previous pics in the franchise — something not predicted before the positively whammo bow last weekend.

Other small scale releases include Brit pics “Like Minds,” “The All Together” and “Blue Blood.” None are expected to trouble the scorers.

“Spider-Man 3” looks set to continue its domination of the Gallic box office this weekend. The superhero pic has taken over $28 million in its first eight days on 850 for Gaumont Columbia Tristar — just a shade under three times the next 15 biggest grossers’ weekly box off combined.

New Hollywood offerings did not excite Gallic auds on Wednesday, their first day on release.

Gregory Hoblit’s “Fracture,” starring Anthony Hopkins, opened with a reasonable $286,000 on 306 for Metropolitan.

Less kindly received was helmer Curtis Hanson’s “Lucky You,” toplining Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore — a dud opener for Warners at under $65,000 on 180. “Boring direction, stripped of fantasy,” sniped Le Monde.

German bookers expect “Spider-Man 3” to drop steeply but still dominate trade.

Paul Verhoeven’s World War II drama “Black Book” hits Teuton screens via NFP/Warner on a sizeable 180. The Dutch-German-U.K. co-production looks likely to benefit from its popular German star Sebastian Koch (“The Lives of Others”), a glitzy premiere in Berlin this week and strong reviews.

Pubcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk reported, “Paul Verhoeven shows an entirely new side after his return from Hollywood. The director sometimes comes close to kitsch, and then impresses with strong emotion and does not shy away from shattering well-worn formulas.”

Universal’s “Blades of Glory” is expected to garner plenty of biz as a light-hearted alternative to “Spider-Man 3” and looks likely to open high in the charts.

Buena Vista Intl. is targeting teen auds with David Goyer’s ghost drama “The Invisible,” which trade magazine Blickpunkt: Film called “a visually ambitious ghost drama sure to please genre fans.”

Modest local openers include Warners’ animated “Das doppelte Lottchen,” Michael Schaack and Toby Genkel’s adaptation of Erich Kaestner’s children’s book about two girls who look exactly alike and set off to find out why.

Joerg Kalt’s German-Austrian drama “Crash Test Dummies,” about a young Romanian couple trying to survive in Vienna, hits screens via MFA (24 Bilder), while also bowing is Arsenal’s “1:1,” Annette K. Olesen’s Danish drama about the impact racial strife has on the relationship between a young Palestinian and his Danish girlfriend.

In Italy, “Spider-Man 3” faces little significant competition. The biggest opener is Barry Levinson’s Robin Williams starrer “Man of the Year,” on 250 via Medusa, expectations for which aren’t stellar.

Trying to capitalize on the current wave of strong local draws, 01 Distribution is sending out Davide Marengo’s debut feature “Notturno Bus” on 195, in what exhibbers see as a smart counter-programming move.

The black comedy stars A-lister Giovanna Mezzogiorno (“Don’t Tell”) as a swindler who becomes entangled with a bus driver, played by Valerio Mastandrea (“N — Napoleon and Me”). “Bus” is opening wide for a first work, driven by star power and strong reviews.

Fox saddles up horror sequel “The Hills Have Eyes 2” on 160. Buena Vista is sending out Oz-set thriller “Irresistible,” starring Susan Sarandon, on a cautious 42.

In the arthouse arena, Gallic comedy “4 Stars” will make its Italo debut on 28 via BIM Distribuzione.

In Spain, as in the other major Euro territories, “Spider-Man 3” is expected to dip approximately 50% but still boss trade.

As in Italy, Fox offers up “The Hills Have Eyes 2” as competish for Spidey in Spain. “Eyes 2” goes out on a beefy 250 but it will be a miracle if is scares Spidey off top spot, according to exhibs.

German-French co-production “L’Ivresse du pouvoir” and Spanish-Argentine co-pro “Ciudad en cello” go out on 34 and 69, respectively. Both hope for traction at upmarket Spanish sites.

Additional reporting by Ed Meza (Germany), Matt Griffin (Spain), Nick Vivarelli (Italy) and David Hayhurst (France).

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