‘Solace’ maintains hold on Europe

Top spot kept in Germany, France, U.K.

LONDON — Bondpic “Quantum of Solace” ruled the roost at the European box office this weekend, where it held top spot in major territories Germany, France and the U.K.

In Italy, hot local laffer “La Fidanzata di Papa” (Father’s Girlfriend) nudged 007 into second spot.

In Spain, the only big market still waiting for “Solace,” bloodthirsty auds made opener “Saw V” the chart-topper.

In the U.K., “Solace” kept up its excellent run, dipping a very respectable 44% in its third weekend to $7.8 million at 549 screens toward a bumper $60.5 million running cume. “Solace” once again dominated all the competish, taking five times more than its nearest challenger, which was opener “Max Payne.”

Actioner “Payne” raked in $1.5 million at 373 via Fox, delivering a $4,049 screen average. Pic outstripped U.S. laffer “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” (Entertainment), which pulled in a just about okay $1.2 million at 340, despite a highly visible poster campaign.

Hit of the weekend in terms of openers was undoubtedly Yash Raj release “Dostana.” The Bollywood film, which stars Abhishek Bachchan, netted sixth spot with $513,118 at just 43 — a boffo $11,928 screen average.

German historical drama “The Baader Meinhof Complex” did not draw Brit auds. Pic took 14th spot in its bow with a below-par $163,384 at 57 via Momentum.

Of the holdovers, Ricky Gervais starrer “Ghost Town” again showed good traction. It slipped just 17% in its fourth frame for a running take of $8.3 million for Par.

In Germany, “Solace” dropped 45% in its soph sesh for a boffo $8.1 million. The pic is the “must-see” film at the box office, said one local exhib, who added that even its more negative reviews were generating curiosity. “People are coming to see ‘Quantum of Solace’ because they’ve heard that it’s so different from other Bond movies. At the same time, many fans miss the wry humor of the past films, and that has been reflected in many of the reviews.”

While “Solace” sucked up most of the box office revenue, Disney’s “The Accidental Husband” provided moviegoers with an alternative to 007’s high-speed shootouts, opening in second with $1.15 million from 346.

The local appetite for comedy was large — close behind in third was Prokino’s hit French laffer “Welcome to the Sticks,” which garnered $1.14 million in its third frame for a $4 million cume, followed by “High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” which took in $1 million in its fourth weekend for a $14.1 million total.

Hanging on strongly in fifth was local fantasy adventure “Krabat,” which pulled in $551,724 toward a $9.2 million cume after six weeks.

The week’s only other top 10 entry, Caroline Link’s drama “A Year Ago in Winter,” opened in seventh with $430,667 from 154. Overall, the German box office fell 30%.

In Italy, Medusa’s local “Father’s Girlfriend” might have repelled the critics, but it pulled in the punters, and knocked “Solace” off the top spot.

Helped by a cast full of household names, the low-brow laffer bowed with a healthy $3.2 million off 525 screens.

“Solace” slid 51% in its second frame to $1.9 million with a $4,237 average off 456 screens. The cume stands at $7 million.

The public were with the critics, though, over Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling.” The lauded drama starring Angelina Jolie bowed at $1.6 million from 299 copies with a respectable $5,402 average for Universal.

“The Orphanage,” a thriller by Spanish helmer Juan Antonio Bayona, bowed on $739,211 with a screen average of $3,678, after Lucky Red sent out 201 copies. The weekend’s other new suspenser “Awake” (Eagle Pictures) didn’t capture the imagination of Italo auds. The Joby Harold-helmed picture starring Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba took a modest $438,430 from 139 screens.

In Spain, BVI’s “Saw V” outshone exhibitors’ expectations and shrugged off poor reviews to slice up all competition and reached number one in the rankings. The gory slasher pic scared up $2.8 million and a boffo 9,472 screen average from 300. This latest installment took better takings than “Saw IV” ($2.7 million bow in October last year) and came close to “Saw III”‘s $3.1 million opening weekend in fall 2006.

“‘Saw’ was a sure-fire bet, especially when you take into account the absence of a strong genre movie since ‘Mirrors’ on Oct. 3,” assessed one booker. “Genre cinema is very sensitive to saturation. If distribs ration servings, you can always expect a moderate success,” underlined a second booker. “Its problem is weak legs, especially with ‘Bond’ ahead,” pointed out a third.

The other winner at Spanish wickets this weekend was Alta’s Italo mafia pic “Gomorrah,” which took the second best screen average of the weekend, $5,470. The hard-hitting drama took a commendable $420,189 on just 77 prints.

After a slow first few days, “Changeling” stands as proof positive that Clint Eastwood knows what French auds love. It earned Universal $2.8 million on 417 after five days.

Off by 52% in its third frame, “Solace” can add Gaul to its list of mega-hit territories. A cume of nearly $24.2 million for Sony puts it in fifth spot of top earners for the year — and counting.

Nice girl turned vengeful hellion laffer “Vilaine” took third spot for SND, with $2 million on 225 after five days.

“Max Payne” has perfed fine for Fox, but looks unlikely to be anywhere near the top of Hollywood action flicks in France. It earned $1.6 million on 377 in its first five days.

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

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