LONDON — A subdued frame at the European box office was enlivened over the weekend by a strong opening by “No Reservations” in Spain and good holdover biz in Blighty, spearheaded by homegrown laffer “Run, Fat Boy, Run.”
No one can catch “Fat Boy” in the U.K. Showing muscular legs, the Simon Pegg starrer retained the top spot for the third weekend running.
David Schwimmer’s directorial debut slipped just 22% to $2.4 million at 401 screens. The frame pushed the Entertainment release up to a running cume of $12.8 million.
The pic’s run is particularly impressive as it has had to contend with hyped U.S. laffers “Superbad” and “Knocked Up” along the way.
This weekend, “Fat Boy” had to outpace Universal’s newcomer “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.” The Adam Sandler comedy banked $2.2 million at 408 on its bow.
Michael Winterbottom’s Pakistan-set Angelina Jolie starrer “A Mighty Heart” did not connect with Brit auds on its opening despite some strong reviews. The Par release took $307,693 at 158 screens for a not-so-mighty screen average of $1,948.
Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof” fared a bit better. The B-movie homage landed sixth spot with $819,468 at 286 and a $2,865 screen average. The motor-mouthed Yank helmer touched down in Blighty to tubthump for his fifth feature on numerous talkshows.
“Fat Boy” has been neck and neck with Joe Wright’s epic romancer “Atonement” for top spot since the pair of Brit pics hit U.K. theaters Sept. 7.
Although Keira Knightley starrer “Atonement” – also from U — has not won any of the three weekend frames, it is doing bumper biz in the week and has a better overall take than “Fat Boy”: $13.6 million.
The impressive “Fat Boy” and “Atonement” innings have helped early fall B.O. biz remain upbeat coming off the whammo summer. This weekend, biz was up 21% on the same weekend last year.
The only surprise this weekend at the Spanish B.O. was the above expectations performance by Warner’s “No Reservations,” which took top spot with $1.5 million in its first frame with a copy average of $5,051. Bookers expected a healthy bow for the Catherine Zeta Jones food-themed romancer but are surprised just how well it has done.
Two local pics opened but neither resonated. “Salir pitando” nabbed $715,299 and an underwhelming average of $1,604. Antonio Mercero’s Alzheimers drama “Y tu quien eres?” took $318,447 with a so-so average of $2,180.
“The two Spanish bows of the weekend went even worse than I expected. I think we’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to see any substantial change,” said a distribber, referring to the Oct. 11 launch of Juan Antonio Bayona’s “The Orphanage.”
Universal’s “Disturbia” bowed on 202 and nabbed $572,667.
Of the Spanish holdovers, “Live Free or Die Hard” dropped 38%, for a 17-day cume of $9 million — a bit less than what was forecast by some distribbers, while “Hairspray” dipped 26% in its second frame for a $2.2 million cume.
Meanwhile, “Ratatouille” keeps nibbling the cheese. It dipped 20% in its eighth frame for an impressive running cume of $18.8 million cume.
In Italy, “The Simpsons Movie” soph sesh dominated, as expected. But the big surprise was Frank Oz comedy “Death at a Funeral,” which opened in third place, ahead of “Atonement,” “Superbad,” and local teen title “Scrivilo sui muri.”
“Simpsons,” on the heels of its record bow, dropped 47% for $4.6 million on 595 and a $17 million running cume this weekend. “Shrek the Third,” in its fourth frame, came in at number two with $1.2 million on 318 for a $26.7 million haul to date.
“Death,” about a dysfunctional British family who gathers for their patriarch’s funeral, pulled $869,000 on 218 via Mikado, at number three, following its Locarno bow.
In fourth place was graffiti-themed “Scrivilo sui muri” (“Write it on the Walls”), the frame’s biggest homegrown opener, which took a better-than expected $641,000 off 290 via Eagle Pictures.
“Atonement” opened in seventh place, proving predictions it would be a harder sell than in Blighty. It still did a respectable $528,000 off 217 via Universal.
“Superbad” didn’t do super good either, bowing at number eight with $452,000 on 221 via Sony. The high school sex comedy is proving a tough sell in non-English speaking Euro territories.
New Italo entry “Piano, Solo,” in which Kim Rossi Stewart (“Crime Novel”) plays a tormented jazz pianist, bowed decently at number 10 for 285,000 on 117 via 01 Distribuzione.
In Gaul, three new pics all found auds in a pretty upbeat frame.
Dire reviews have done nothing to dent the appeal of laffer “L’invite.” Toplining big names Daniel Auteuil, Valerie Lemercier and Thierry Lhermitte, it’s benefited EuropaCorp to the tune of $2.1 million after five days on 460.
“28 Weeks Later” is flying high for Fox. Opening 70% stronger in Gaul than “28 Days Later” did four years ago, it earned $1.2 million in its first five days on 248.
And while the scribes scoffed at helmer Doug Lefler’s sword and sandals slice ’em up, “The Last Legion,” distrib Quinta is laughing all the way to the bank. Toplining Colin Firth and Ben Kingsley, it took in more than $809,000 on 259 in its first five days.
“The Bourne Ultimatum” is proving a hit in France after already posting big numbers in other major Euro markets. In two frames, the Matt Damon starrer has taken $7.4 million with Par.
Whammo hit “Ratatouille” still scuttles along in Gaul. Down only 4% on the week after eight frames, it’s approaching seven million ticket sales, cuming nearly $57.4 million for Disney.
German biz slid 12% as 10 new openers failed to make much of an impression.
Down 33%, Universal’s “Ultimatum” retained top spot with $1.7 million.
The soph seshes of Senator’s “Room 1408,” down 20% to $1 million, and Sony’s “Surf’s Up,” down 23% to $875,000, held second and third spots.
Top grosser of the new fare was U’s “Disturbia,” with $787,702 at 298.
Local pic “Ein Fliehendes Pferd” from Concorde landed sixth with a decent $553,977 at 132 for a $4,197 average.
WB’s “Shoot ‘Em Up” and Fox’s “Day Watch” failed to excite German auds.
” ‘Day Watch’ is a particular disaster,” one Teuton booker said. “It is quite a good film, but it bombed totally, and I guess that is because the distributor didn’t do enough for it.”
Additional reporting by Christian Koehl (Germany), Nick Vivarelli (Italy), David Hayhurst (France) and Emilio Mayorga (Spain).