'Compass,' 'Bee,' 'Enchanted' work magic

ROME — Hollywood feelgood fare struck gold playing to Europe’s festive mood as “The Golden Compass,” “Bee Movie” and “Enchanted” topped charts in most Euro territories, except Italy where local laffers were the big galvanizers.

Italo auds gave “Natale in Crociera” (Christmas on a Cruiseship) a holiday benchmark launch with $5.5 million from 581 via Filmauro in a fat frame up 19% from the previous weekend.

Latest installment in the lucrative Aurelio De Laurentiis franchise toplining comic Christian De Sica easily beat “Una Moglie Bellissima” (A Very Beautiful Wife), Italy’s other big local opener, from popular thesp-helmer Leonardo Pieraccioni.

Romantic “Wife” came in a distant second with a nonetheless handsome $4 million off 513 via Medusa.

Meanwhile, both outshined “Compass,” which bowed at number three in Italy with $2 million from 379 via 01 Distribuzione for a still sharp $5,500 per screen average.

Disney’s “Enchanted” dropped 57% in its second Italo frame for $1.4 million off 389 and a $5.3 million running cume.

On the flipside of feelgood, David Cronenberg’s eerie thriller “Eastern Promises” enjoyed a solid Italo bow, pulling $607,000 from 146 via Eagle Pictures.

At the Blighty box office “Compass” continued to lead the way, bringing in $6 million in its sophomore sesh.

The big budget adaptation of Philip Pullman’s “Northern Lights” fantasy novel — which dropped 59% and now has a $24.5 million cume — staved off the dual offensive of Disney’s live action-toon hybrid “Enchanted” and DreamWorks-Paramount’s animated “The Bee Movie” to keep the top spot.

“Enchanted” managed to swat the Jerry Seinfeld-voiced “Bee” and claim second spot, bringing in $5.1 million off 471 playdates.

“Bee” nestled in at third place with an opening cume of $4.6 million off 435 playdates.

The weekend’s other big openers — Icon’s “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” and Universal’s “We Own the Night” — both scored modest bows, with the Dustin Hoffman-Natalie Portman festive kiddie pic grossing $900,000 off 342 playdates, and the James Mangold directed crime thriller, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg, bringing in $890,000, to enter the top 10 chart in fifth and sixth place respectively.

Warner Bros.’ “Fred Claus” brought in $1.5 million in its third frame to raise its total cume to $10 million.

Tamil distrib Ayngaran narrowly missed out on the top 10 with “Billa,” a remake of the 1980 blockbuster. Pic, a crime thriller in which a villagebumpkin is asked to impersonate a ruthless crime boss, rustled up $100,000 off only 10 screens to bow in 11th place.

In Germany “Compass” is still pointing North, with a second week at number one. Sliding 30% from its first frame, “Compass” drew $3.28 million for a $9 million cume, which squeaked it past its one million admission mark.

But the spate of new openers failed to fire up the Teutonic box office which, though up 3.25% from last week, was down 26% compared with the same frame last year.

“Bee” buzzed into Teutonic charts at number two with $2.6 million from 419 screens. While not as sweet as other DreamWorks megahits, such as “Shrek” and “Madagascar,” it is expected to extract its share of family honey over the next few weeks.

Fox’s “Hitman” shot its way in at number three this week with $1.68 million at 422 screens followed by laffer “Warum Maenner nicht zuhoernen und Frauen nicht einparken koennen” (Why Men Can’t Listen and Women Can’t Read Maps) at number four with $1.33 million for a $4.28 million cume.

Musical fable “August Rush” bowed at number six, with $420,505 via Tobis, while Western “3:10 to Yuma,” starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, opened seventh with $259,000 from 99 via Sony.

Local comedy “Vorne ist verdammt weit weg” (Forward Is Pretty Damn Far), based on star Frank Markus Barwasser’s popular cabaret show, bowed at number eight with $242,000 via NFP/Warner.

In Gaul, distribs are singing the blues after the worst November box office take in a decade, blamed mainly on the 10-day transit strikes and lack of boffo product.

“Compass” held on to the top spot, dropping 38% in its second frame. But its $10.4 million cume is still a slight disappointment for Metropolitan.

Disney heartwarmer “The Fox and the Child,” from helmer Luc Jacquet of “March of the Penguins” fame, bowed at number two with more than $3.5 million from 703 in its first five days.

“Bee Movie” drew over $3 million for a nice third place. Still, Paramount Pictures France prexy Camille Trumer has been lamenting drop-offs of 40% and up, compared with 25% to 30% a few years ago, pointing to piracy as the likely culprit.

“Enchanted” has given Disney cause for cheer, the romantic fable having slid just 33% in its third frame and cumed over $12 million to date.

In Spain, “Compass” held on to the top spot despite a 52% drop. The Nicole Kidman starring fantasy distribbed by Tripictures continued to play strong in plexes but paled rapidly in other locations, said one distrib.

Stephen King adaptation “1408,” toplining John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, scared up Spain’s best per screen average — $6,453 — this weekend and took $1.9 million for the number two spot via New World.

“Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” took $649,109 off 296, spelling dud for the Dustin Hoffman-Natalie Portman kidpic via DeA Planeta.

“August Rush” fell flat with $156,525 from a 200 copy spread via A Zeta.

But several arthouse pics fared quite well in Spain. U’s “Lust, Caution” bowed on 126 for a decent $434,000 — the third best average per copy with $3,622. “ ‘Lust’ is a difficult movie, but it’s great that auds are forgiving its length,” said one exhib.

“Irina Palm,” starring Marianne Faithfull as a brothel worker, bowed nicely, taking $84,000 from 31, via Golem.

Additional reporting by Andrew Horn (Germany), Ali Jaafar (UK), David Hayhurst (France) and Emilio Mayorga (Spain).

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