'Wixxer,' 'Voglia' big in Italy, Germany

BERLIN — Domestic comedy and home-grown romance dominated in Germany and Italy, where auds turned out in droves for Teutonic laffer “Neues vom Wixxer” and teen love story “Ho Voglia Di Te” (I Want You).

Constantin’s sequel to the 2004 hit comedy, “Der Wixxer,” a spoof of German mystery thrillers from the 1960s, knocked “Music and Lyrics” from first place.

It was the second local pic to reach number one this year after BVI’s teen comedy “The Wild Soccer Bunch 4.”

Yet with an overall take of $2.3 million from 600, the latest “Wixxer” performed below expectations and well behind the original, which took in $3.5 million in its first weekend.

Germany’s box office was virtually unchanged from the previous week, with revenues up by just under 1%.

At number two, Warner’s “Music and Lyrics” took $2.1 million from 621 on its way to a $6 million cume, followed by Uni-versal’s “Norbit,” with $1.8 million from 546 for a current total of $4.7 million.

In fourth, Fox’s Viking actioner “Pathfinder” from German helmer Marcus Nispel carved up a $470,354 slice from 300, giving it a total $1.3 million.

Teutonic pics rounded out the top ten, with Warner’s tyke pic “Rudy: The Return of the Racing Pig” taking $445,520 from 350 for an $807,218 cume in its sophomore session.

“The Wild Soccer Bunch 4″ kicked up $428,340 from 708 in its seventh week for a boffo total of $14.7 million while “The Lives of Others” – boosted by its recent Oscar win – brought in a further $427,635 from 152 for a cume of $16.1 million.

In Italy, domestic pics continued on a roll. Warner’s “Ho Voglia,” toplining local heartthrob Riccardo Scamarcio as a macho type with love pains, pulled $3.3 million on 575, despite a steep 60% drop, for a $15 million two-week cume.

Four other local titles also made the top ten. Local fare currently accounts for more than 40% of Italo box office receipts, up 20% year-on-year, per national box office compiler Cinetel.

Sony’s “Ghost Rider” rode into Italy in second-place grossing $1.76 million on 302, barely besting the outing of local laffer “Il 7 e l’8″by comic duo Ficarra and Picone, which pulled $1.75 million on 300 via Medusa.

As expected, Francesca Archibugi’s coming-of-age drama “Flying Lessons,” starring Giovanna Mezzogiorno (“Don’t Tell”) as an Italian doctor in India, flew nicely for $535,000 on 149 via 01 Distribution in the seventh spot.

In sixth, Ferzan Ozpetek’s ensembler “Saturn in Opposition” is showing staying power with $600,000 on 214 for a stellar $9 million four-week cume via Medusa.

In its first European outing, U.K. helmer Gabriel Range’s “Death of a President” opened to moribund biz in Italy.

Despite mostly positive reviews and massive press coverage, the fictional account of George W. Bush’s assassination pulled a paltry $950,000 on 68 screens, a mere $1,390 per screen, via Lucky Red.

French auds, by contrast, took to new opener, “Curse of the Golden Flower,” the lush Chinese epic starring Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat. Pic is more than meeting distribber SND’s high expectations, taking in $2.33 million on 274 after five days.

After weeks of neglect, at least one Tinseltown title finally got some attention in Gaul.

Marc Lawrence’s “Music and Lyrics” took third spot, proving that Hugh Grant’s star power still shines across La Belle France. It made $2.2 million on 350 for Warners after five days.

Otherwise, the local stranglehold on auds continues: Edith Piaf biopic “La Vie en Rose” came in second, having cumed nearly $35.2 million after five frames on a whopping 703 screens.

Fourth place went to gangster tale “Contre-Enquete.” Helmed by Franck Mancuso, its perf has pleased Pathe after two frames, cuming nearly $4.3 million on 369.

Another Gallic pic with serious legs, “Taxi 4,” finished in fifth. It’s cumed a touch under $34.4 million after five frames for ARP/Europacorp on 680.

In the U.K. “Premonition” surprised many with a boffo $2 million at 357.

The result was 40% above booker’s expectations who credit Entertainment with a well-pitched campaign which blitzed auds late in the day.

“We did not see this coming; Sandra Bullock is no longer bankable at the box office, especially when not in a romantic com-edy so ‘Premonition’s’ result is a real surprise,” said one booker.

Sienna Miller-starrer, “Factory Girl,” failed to titillate Brit auds.

Despite solid promotional work from the Brit starlet, the pic limped in with $307,058 at 120 – only good enough for the elev-enth spot in the charts. The pic was not helped by some savage reviews.

“Becoming Jane” followed up on its underwhelming bow with a solid soph sesh hold, dipping 11% to $1.1 million at 371 for a $3.5 million ten-day cume. Bookers attribute the gritty hold to the fact that it opened so flat.

“Jane” is significantly down on exhib’s expectations. They question whether Brit auds are interested in the life, rather than the work of Jane Austen, and if Yank thesp Anne Hathaway has genuine B.O. appeal.

Nick Love’s blood-soaked vigilante pic, “Outlaw,” slipped 48% to $596,950 at 285 in its soph sesh. Pathe gave “Outlaw” a big push in Blighty and it has scored $2.4 million in ten days – a decent result for a violent ’18′ which received some nasty reviews.

Awards season may be well and truly over but “The Last King of Scotland” still trundles along nicely for Fox. The pic dipped a better than average 24% in its tenth frame for a $10.4 million running cume.

Although not a hit overall, Brit bookers report that Sony’s opener “Stomp the Yard” worked well in black sites, selling out some showings.

Spanish auds, meanwhile, were seduced by “Hannibal Rising,” which garnered $1.65 million off 316, and tickled by “Norbit,” grossing $1.2 million off 248 prints.

The weekend’s two major U.S. bows performed above bookers’ expectations, leaving much hyped domestic opener “Lola: the Film” in the dust.

“Horror films aren’t so hot as they were a few years ago in Spain, but they still have an audience,” one booker said of “Hanni-bal.”

“Lola,” a bio of Spanish 50s dance icon Lola Flores co-produced by broadcaster Antena 3 TV and distribbed by DeAPlaneta, was muscularly marketed by the web.

It bowed on a huge 326-print run, gleaned good word-of-mouth and large praise for Gala Evora as Lola. But it made a disap-pointing, if hardly disastrous, $564,038. Exhibitors were hoping for a few hundred thousand dollars more.

“People who are interested in Lola Flores are 50 or 60-years-old. Cinemagoers are younger and aren’t so interested. The film will probably do better on TV and DVD rental,” said one exhibber.

Handled by BVI, soccer parable “Goal! 2: Living the Dream” near turkeyed – just $251,888 off 99 – despite being set at Real Madrid and David Beckham putting in a cameo.

“In Spain, if you want soccer, you go to a soccer match,” the booker said. “And in Barcelona, nobody’s interested in a film featuring Real Madrid.”

David Hayhurst, John Hopewell, Archie Thomas and Nick Vivarelli contributed to this report.

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