Bond still boss in Europe

'Solace' opens top in Spain

LONDON — “Quantum of Solace” again dominated trade at the European box office this weekend with a strong bow in Spain and robust holdover biz in the U.K., Germany, France and Italy.

Other weekend highlights were a boffo Italo bow for “Twilight” in its first Euro outing and a rock hard home turf opening for French crime drama “Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One,” the second part of the pic about the wild life of France’s most notorious modern-day criminal, Jacques Mesrine.

Outside the main Euro territories, Paramount’s “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” continues its successful gradual release pattern. The animated family fave debuted top in Denmark, Holland, Norway and Sweden this frame.

In Italy, vampire romancer “Twilight” chomped with gusto, drawing a boffo $5.84 million from 601 screens, its biggest haul in the five international territories where the pic opened day-and-date with the U.S.

The red hot Catherine Hardwicke-helmed pic pulled a socko $9,723 Italo per-screen-average at numero uno, besting the recent local bows of “Quantum of Solace” and “High School Musical 3: Senior Year.”

Early indications that “Twilight” would click in Italy came when a 15-minute sneak preview world-preemed last month at the Rome Film Festival, with star Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart and helmer Hardwicke in tow, creating commotion and becoming the fest’s fastest-selling ticket.

Eagle has massively marketed “Twilight” in Italy, managing to sink fangs into a wider demographic than its femme/teen target thanks to the fact that Pattinson is a former “Harry Potter” star, said Eagle marketing chief Mattia Guerra. He also enthused that “Twilight” “proves that modestly budgeted femme films with catchy elements can perform just as well as blockbusters.”

Meanwhile, “Body of Lies” bowed moderately but in line with exhib expectations, pulling $1.67 million from 357 for the number three slot via Warner Bros.

Local laffer “La Fidanzata di Papa” dropped 40% in its second frame for $2 million off 491 via Medusa, now at number two and with a below par $6.2 million cume to date.

In Spain, the success of Sony’s “Solace” was in line with the optimistic end of bookers’ pre-release predictions. The pic drew $5.2 million over the weekend at a boffo $10,027 screen average. Bookers expressed satisfaction with the perf, especially compared with “Casino Royale,” which bowed to $3.8 million in Spain last November. However, local bookers are not convinced “Solace” will have long legs — most predict a soph sesh drop-off of at least 45%. Next weekend’s strongest bow — “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” — has a different demo in mind though, “which might help put some gas in Bond’s tank,” pointed out an exhib.

Lagging some way behind, the weekend’s second widest weekend bow, oater “Appaloosa” (Tripictures), came in third with $1 million on 186 at an acceptable average of $3,387. No other new release made the top 10, with Manga’s biopic “El Greco” eking out $199,987 at a distant 12th place.

Among the holdovers, BVI’s “Saw V” dropped a severe 66%, despite being the weekend’s over all runner-up. Result met bookers’ predictions for an explosive start and lack of staying power. Slasher pic has cumed $4.2 million to date.

In France, auds are proving a sucker for a pair of pics about real-life gangster Mesrine. The public and scribes alike can’t get enough of Vincent Cassel playing Gaul’s gangster supremo of the 70s. The second of the two-part biopic, “Mesrine: Public Enemy Number One” had a stonking first five days for Pathe, earning $4.7 million on 500 prints. Meanwhile, part one, “Mesrine: Death Instinct” was down only 28% in its fifth frame, for a cume of $15.9 million on 491.

“Two Lovers” sees a continued run of good returns for helmer James Gray in Gaul. It enriched Wild Bunch to the tune of $1.5 million on 229 in its first five days.

Holding well is Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling.” The Universal release dipped just 27% in its second frame for a cume of $5.4 million. And “Vilaine” is a dark horse hit for SND. The off-kilter revenge fantasy laffer toplining Marilou Berry “is exceeding our expectations. We are expecting more than 800,000 admissions now — double what we had hoped for initially,” said sales exec Henry Hamelle. The cume stands at $4 million.

In the U.K., “Solace” comfortably held top spot. In its fourth frame, the Bondpic dropped 44% to take $4.4 million at 527 screens. Weekend haul took the film to a running cume of $68.8 million. Icy cold weekend weather kept cinemas pretty busy.

Second place in the charts was hotly contested by a pair of openers. Warner’s CIA thriller “Body of Lies” ($1.5 million at 393) just edged out Lionsgate’s low-brow laffer “My Best Friend’s Girl” ($1.4 million at 354). “Lies” result was fairly underwhelming given the big name cast of Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Critically lauded Israeli animated doc “Waltz With Bashir” opened just okay for Artificial Eye at upmarket sites. Opening of $173,598 at 54 did not match “Persepolis,” which took more than $300,000 in its bow earlier this year.

In Germany, “Solace” held top in its third sesh, dropping 49% to $4.2 million from 845 screens. Cume now stands at a macho $32.8 million. Though falling short of 4 million admissions, pic is in close striking distance to overpower “Mamma Mia!” — up to $33.1 million in its 19th week — and snatch the title of this year’s top grossing film.

Top opener was “Body of Lies,” which trailed “Solace” with $1.5 million from 427 screens. Vidgame adaptation “Max Payne” (Fox) downloading $1.3 million from 400 sites in its German bow.

Gallic laffer “Welcome to the Sticks” (Prokino/Fox) slipped a very respectable 19% to pick up $940,929 from 285 locations, for a total $5.5 million.

Overall weekend attendance dipped 25% from the previous frame but was still up 15.6% on the same weekend last year.

Additional reporting by Andrew Horn (Germany), Emilio Mayorga (Spain), Nick Vivarelli (Italy) and David Hayhurst (France).

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