'This is England' delivers on buzz

BERLIN — Warm weather across Europe and a dearth of winning titles spelled box office disaster in nearly all major markets last weekend.

But for local exhibs, it was the quiet before the storm ahead of this week’s long-awaited arrival of this week of “Spider-Man 3.”

In the U.K. the hot spell again hit weekend box office trade hard.

Overall business decreased 16% on the previous frame and dipped 10% on the same weekend last year. For the second weekend running, no single passed the modest £1 million mark.

“This is England”, the fifth feature from Brit auteur Shane Meadows, opened gallantly taking $416,299 at 62 per Optimum Releasing. The screen average of $6,715 exceeded industry expectations.

The semi-autobiographical pic about young skinheads growing up in 1980s England won rave reviews and extensive upscale press coverage.

If word of mouth is as strong as the reviews, “This is England” may pass Meadows’ previous best box office result; “Once Upon a Time in the Midlands”, which grossed $990,292 in 2002.

Ed Norton-starrer “The Painted Veil” flopped, taking just $523,458 at 140 via Momentum despite some favorable reviews.

Yank laffer “Reno 911! Miami” also died a death in its Brit opening. The pic took just $275,917 at 136 per Par – good enough for 14th in the charts.

In Italy, the box office fell a worse-than-expected 9% as a paucity of tentpole titles and clear skies kept auds away.

Surprisngly, Fox’s “Epic Movie” took the top spot in its opening weekend, grossing $1.5 million on 247 screens and beating local favorite “Mio Fratello e Figlio Unico.”

In its sophomore session, critically acclaimed “Fratello,” distributed by Warner Bros. and Cattleya, drew $1.2 million on 477 screens, down 37%.

Distributors thought “Fratello” was a cinch for number one, but they acknowledged the heavy political tone deterred younger audiences.

01 Distribution’s psychological thriller “The Number 23” took third position, grossing $876,000 on 258 screens. Premiering mid-week, the Jim Carrey-starrer has earned a 7-day total of $1.7 million.

The Buena Vista Intl. comedy “Wild Hogs” and Medusa Film’s “The Good Shepherd” rounded out the top five.

“Wild Hogs” grossed $633,000 on 289 screens while “The Good Shepherd” scored $607,000 on 307 screens. “Hogs” fell 50% and “Good Shepherd” fell 39% from their opening frames.

In line with expectations the Medusa romancer “Voce del verbo amore” (“Voice of the Verb Love”) took sixth place in its debut session, drawing $369,000 on 222 screens.

The weekend box office total was $7 million, down 9% week-on-week – a slide of more than 35% in three weeks.

Germany suffered its worst weekend of the year after the box office plummeted 38.9%, resulting in a weekly total of just $6.3 million.

BVI’s “Wild Hogs” remained at number one in its second frame with $1.67 million from 583 despite a 44% drop for total of $5.25 million.

Senator’s local hit “Vollidiot,” a romantic comedy starring TV star Oliver Pocher, similarly held on to the number two spot, dropping 39% to $723,737 from 513 on its way to a three-week cume of $4.1 million.

Constantin’s teen comedy “Die Wilden Huehner und die Liebe” (“Wild Chicks in Love”), the only other local release in the top ten, pulled in $282,266 from 523 for a total of $3.7 million in its fourth session.

Only one new entry managed to make it into the top ten, just barely: Sony Pictures’ Jennifer Garner and Kevin Smith starrer “Catch and Release” flopped at number nine with $216,692 from 100.

In Spain, a slew of new openers did little to ignite the local box office.

Local helmer Nacho Cerda’s English-language horror film “The Abandoned” opened at number five, taking in $171,564 on a limited run of 105 via Filmax.

At number one, Deaplaneta’s Sandra Bullock starrer “Premonition” opened on 250 with $1,266,648, while “Curse of the Golden Flower” garnered $498,038 from 100 via Sony.

Universal’s “Charlotte’s Web” opened in third with $281,939 from 114, followed by Manga’s “10 Items or Less,” which garnered $179,950 from 119.

A placid box office environment also hung over Gaul.

In its second frame, “Mr. Bean’s Holiday” cumed $4.7 million on 500 prints for Studio Canal.

Opening disappointingly for TFM, “Next” took in less than $1.5 million in its first five days on 386.

Paranoid love triangle comedy “J’veux pas que tu t’en ailles” had a respectable if not stellar first week for UGC, making $852,115 on 252.

In its fourth frame, “The Price to Pay” cumed over $8.1 million for a pleased Wild Bunch on 444.

Additional reporting by Archie Thomas (U.K.), Bernhard Warner (Italy), Emilio Mayorga (Spain), and David Hayhurst (France)

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