'Happening' makes sold entry

LONDON — “The Incredible Hulk” bit off big green in its U.K. bow whilst M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” did solid opening biz across the Euro box office this weekend.

The ongoing European soccer tournament is proving a distraction to male auds but summer tentpoles “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and “Sex and the City” are still reeling ‘em in.

“Hulk” stormed to the top of the charts in the U.K. with $6.3 million at 484 screens. Superhero pic toplining Ed Norton also netted the best screen average of any pic in the top 10 — $13,019.

Once again displaying good legs, “Sex” dropped a respectable 42% in its third frame to claim third with $3.5 million at 470. Femme-skewed counterprogrammer has now banked $39.6 million in Blighty via Entertainment. Pic is proving popular with wives and girlfriends shorn of male company by the soccer.

Also showing good traction is “Skull.” The Paramount release slid 34% in its fourth weekend to $3.4 million at 503 and a bumper running cume of $69.3 million.

Shyamalan’s fourth-placed “Happening” shrugged off poor reviews to make a decent $3.2 million for Fox. Screen average of $8,151 proved a pleasant surprise for bizzers.

Of the holdovers, child abduction thriller “Gone Baby Gone” showed the best traction, albeit after a lackluster bow. Ben Affleck’s pic dropped 30% in its soph sesh toward a $1.7 million total for Disney.

In Italy, eco thriller “Happening” took the numero uno spot, followed by romantic comedy “Made of Honor” in a soft frame devitalized by soccer fever.

Fox’s Mark Wahlberg starrer bowed at $1.7 million on 363, proving that Shyamalan’s Italo fan base remains loyal.

Sony’s “Made of Honor” pulled a decent $1.1 million on 293 on the strength of protag Patrick Dempsey’s “Grey’s Anatomy”-derived star power, which lured the soccer-averse segment of Italy’s female demographic.

Meanwhile, the latest “Indiana Jones” installment dropped 46% to $952,000 on 329 in its fourth frame, in third place with a $16.7 million running cume via Universal.

“Sex,” in its third frame, slid 55% for $893,000 off 419 and a $9.2 million take to date via local distribbery 01 Distribuzione.

Matteo Garrone’s naturalistic Neapolitan Mafia pic “Gomorrah,” winner of the Cannes Grand Prix, consolidated its boffo run with $665,000 off 281 for a $14 million five-week cume, marking a rare case of an Italo auteur playing the plex circuit.

In the Italo arthouse arena, Susanne Bier’s “Things We Lost in the Fire” bowed tepidly with $168,000 from 109 via Teodora Film, despite rave reviews and Benicio Del Toro and Halle Berry billing.

The German box office grew by nearly 18% despite the soccer fever gripping the nation, due in part to cooler temperatures and rain throughout much of the country.

“Sex” remained on top in its third session with $2.8 million on its way to a $17.9 million cume, followed by “Skull,” which continued to do well in its fourth lap, grossing $2.1 million toward a $24.7 million total.

In third, Fox’s “Happening” was the best performing new entry, taking in $1.7 million from 550, well ahead of Shyamalan’s last pic, 2006’s “Lady in the Water,” which managed $452,817 on its opening weekend and went on to cume just over $1 million.

In France, “Happening” had a strong first five days, with many critics being far kinder than they were in the U.S. or U.K. Its Wednesday to Sunday run earned Fox $4.7 million.

“Skull” continued its solid Gallic run in its fourth frame. Down 39% on the week, its cume stands at $33.1 million.

“Sex” slipped a better-than-expected 43% on the week for Metropolitan in its third frame. Cume now stands at $13.9 million.

“Sagan,” the sole local representative in the French top five, had a less than stellar first five days for EuropaCorp. The biopic of famed author Francoise Sagan, toplining Sylvie Testud, earned $1.4 million on 247.

In Spain, “Happening” comfortably landed top spot with $3.4 million at 384 for Fox. Pic, which bested exhibs’ expectations, benefited from a warm reception from local crix. Copy average of $8,695 was also a weekend best. UPI’s “Skull” is fading in Spain. The second-placed pic drew a per-copy average of $1,702 in its fourth frame to edge the cume to $26.4 million.

“By the time ‘Crystal Skull’ gets to $30 million, its tongue will be hanging out,” assessed a booker. Some exhibitors forecast a $38 cume four weeks ago.

Despite the Spanish market being relatively uncrowded (“Sex” and “Hulk” are yet to bow), specialty and homegrown fare wasn’t able to capitalize. Local pic “Pretextos” took just $101,015 and “An American Crime” collected only $73,972.

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

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