Spidey set to weave more magic in Europe

More boffo bows expected in U.K, Spain

BERLIN — Sony’s friendly neighbor-hood wall-crawler is set to wrap Europe up in his web this weekend following “Spider-Man 3’s” record-smashing openings.

Spidey’s latest outing was the only player in Gallic cinemas this week.

Pic had nothing even resembling competition as it shattered opening day records, taking in over $6.4 million on 850 prints for Gaumont Columbia Tristar.

The only pic vaguely in its box office league, “Mr. Bean’s Holiday,” has cumed nearly $5.4 million after two frames on 523 for Studio Canal.

News of the boffo “Spider-Man 3” debuts in France, Germany and Italy has bookers in the U.K. licking their lips in anticipation of its prospects in Blighty this weekend.

After three weeks of sedentary biz, U.K. industryites are expecting “Spider-Man 3” to kick-start flagging trade.

The fact that cooler weather is forecast for this weekend will hearten Sony U.K. brass.

Monday May 7 is a bank holiday in Blighty so “Spider-Man 3” has a great opportunity to post huge numbers in its first four days.

Bookers are projecting a $16 million opening three day figure and a final U.K. cume approaching $50 million.

But “Spider-Man 3” reviews have been mixed at best.

“While overall it has about as much to offer as the earlier films in the way of thrills and heartbreak, it leaves the viewer with a hollow feeling,” wrote Robert Hanks in The Independent.

“SM3 has its moments, but it’s over-long and messy with a number of disjointed storylines,” suggested Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian.

“Spider-Man 3” met with similar criticism in Germany, but it doesn’t appear to have hurt it in the slightest.

Pic got off to a massive start on May 1, raking in $4.6 million from 870 loca-tions and becoming a shoe-in to match the success of the web-slinger’s first two outings.

In their first four days “Spider-Man” and “Spider-Man 2” garnered $12.6 million and $10.3 million respectively.

As elsewhere “Spider-Man 3’s” biggest obstacle will be the warm weather as the field remains free of any major competition.

In Spain, where it bows Friday (May 4), “Spider-Man 3” has transfixed the exhibition sector.

The only question is just how much money it can make.

Pic was set to open on 761 prints, the second biggest copy-run in Spanish history, bettered only by “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” (787).

“It will take 60% of total box office,” predicted one exhibber.

Spain’s extended May 1 vacation could give “Spider-Man 3” a leg-up.

While exhibs expect strong biz from Spaniards returning from holiday, sunny skies could prove critical.

“We’re tired of rain. Good weather might affect results,” an exhib added.

Despite the web spinner’s popularity, no exhibitor was betting on “Spider-Man 3” breaking the all-time first-weekend record in Spain, held by “The DaVinci Code,” which went out on 750 for $11.9 million.

Among local films at the Spanish box office, the biggest bet is “Quien dice que es facil?” an Argentina-Spanish co-production marking Argentinean helmer Juan Taratuto’s follow-up to “No sos vos, soy yo,” again starring Diego Paretti.

“No sos vos” was a sleeper hit in Spain, where it grossed $3.2 million.

Taratuto’s neurotic romcom style has caused him to be dubbed the Argentin-ean Woody Allen by the Spanish press.

Reviews of “Quien” are generally upbeat. “A new, stimulating reshaping of romantic comedy structures,” gushed “El Pais.”

Programmed against “Spider-Man 3” in Germany is a slew of local and foreign arthouse pics and one Ameri-can comedy.

Top among them is X Verleih’s “Shop-pen,” a local comedy from Ralf Wes-thoff about desperate singles who turn to speed-dating to find love.

Pic has won critical praise across the board.

“Ralf Westhoff has written wonderful dialogue in a way that allows everyone to find themselves in one of the [many] characters,” wrote daily Die Welt, while Die Tageszeitung called it “an absolutely must-see film.”

Additional openers include Cedric Kahn’s French-German tyke film “L’Avion”; Denis Dercourt’s French drama “La Tourneuse de Pages” from Alamode; and Todd Stephens’ laffer “Another Gay Movie,” coming via Pro-Fun.

With “Super-Man 3” playing on 900 – about one-third of the country’s screens – since May Day, there isn’t much room for new entries in Italy this weekend.

The biggest opener is Gallic Edith Piaf biopic “La Vie En Rose” on 162 via Mikado, which exhibbers think makes for a smart counter programming move.

Eagle Pictures is taking Ray Liotta thriller “Slow Burn” off the shelf and releasing it on 130, while Moviemax is outing local slasher-meister Lamberto Bava’s “Ghost Son” on 80.

Spirituality-themed “7 Km da Gerusalemme,” previously pulled due to a legal spat with Coca Cola (which objected to scene in which Jesus drank a can of Coke) is being outed by Mediafilm on 50 with that scene edited out.

Argentinian political drama “Buenos Aires, 1977”, a Cannes contender last year, is coming out on 20 via Do-menico Procacci’s Fandango.

In the U.K., Shane Meadows’ superbly-reviewed Brit pic “This is England!” is going great guns from its limited-release bow due to strong word of mouth.

The Optimum Releasing pic about skinheads growing up in 1980’s Eng-land took $684,506 in its first seven days and gets an expansion from 62 to 83 prints this weekend. From May 11 it will be playing on over 100 according to Optimum.

“England!” should likewise act as effective counter-programming to brash summer tentpole “Spider-Man 3” in coming weeks.

Also aimed at upscale auds is Spanish pic “Goya’s Ghosts” which Entertain-ment saddle up this weekend.

The distrib has scored decent results recently with “Fracture” and “Next”

but “Goya” reviews have been under-whelming.

“It merely rumbles on, illuminating neither the artist nor his tumultuous times,” said Nick Funnell in London listings mag Time Out.

Other openers in France trod cautiously with quite limited distibution.

Local thriller “Pur Week-end,” helmed by Olivier Doran and toplining Kad Merad and Bruno Solo, managed a first-day of $269,224 on 255 for Wild Bunch.

The crix offered little comfort. “Inco-herent scenario, vulgar dialogue and stupid characters,” thundered Tele-CineObs.

Additional reporting by Archie Thomas (U.K.), Nick Vivarelli (Italy), John Hopewell (Spain) and David Hayhurst (France)

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