Box office due to surge

LONDON — Caveman epic “10,000 B.C.” and animated family pic “Dr Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who!” should take Euro wickets by storm this weekend as markets warm up for the Easter holidays.

After a few flat frames, the U.K. B.O. is set to rebound this weekend.

With Roland Emmerich’s “10,000 B.C.” opening and weekend previews for Easter treats “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!” and “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” cinema biz is expected to be bumper.

Warner Bros. sends out “10,000 B.C.” on 419 prints amid upbeat industry expectations, partly influenced by the fact that Emmerich’s previous offering, “The Day After Tomorrow,” was a hit in the U.K.

But reviews have been largely dismissive: “Emmerich’s great big CGI blockbuster lumbers along like one of the woolly mammoths that roam across the screen,” sniped Rob Mackie in the Guardian.

U.K. exhibs are not overly concerned by the critics’ negative reaction and anticipate a hefty $4 million bow toward a $16 million final cume.

Most notable local film debuting is horror pic “The Cottage,” Paul Andrew Williams’ gory follow-up to the critically acclaimed “London to Brighton,” which Pathe releases on some 250 prints. Bookers’ expectations are subdued due to poor reviews and the prohibitive “18” certificate. An opening of $1.2 million is projected.

Optimum Releasing releases Brian de Palma’s Iraq war pic “Redacted” on just five screens. Pic could post a decent screen average thanks to some positive reviews. “It is a crafted shockudrama with a payload of passionate conviction,” wrote Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times.

Other releases such as the Joe Eszterhas penned Hungary 1956 drama “Children of Glory,” Celine Sciamma’s Gallic coming-of-ager “Water Lilies” and Harmony Korine’s leftfield “Mister Lonely” target arthouse auds.

In Italy, “10,000 B.C.” rolls out on 500 amid some doubt the prehistoric actioner will bump local comic Carlo Verdone’s hit “Grande, grosso e Verdone” off the numero uno slot.

“10,000 B.C.” has been marketed heavily and should win the battle. But reviews for the mammoth-hunting epic are bad across the board. Italy’s top selling daily La Repubblica called it “A real rip-off,” because “it disappoints in terms of entertainment.”

Meanwhile, “Grande, grosso e Verdone,” an assemblage of skits revolving around revived stock Verdone characters, will command 700 screens in its second frame after opening to a boffo $7.8 million on 700 last weekend.

Italy’s second-biggest opener is Sidney Lumet’s classy thriller “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead,” toplining Philip Seymour Hoffman and Ethan Hawke. Release goes out on 277 via Medusa with plenty of positive buzz following its launch at the Rome Film Fest in the fall.

Crimer-crowded frame also sees Brooklyn-set Russian mob saga “We Own the Night” out on 200 via BIM Distribuzione. Noir helmed by James Gray with a stellar cast — Robert Duvall, Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg and Eva Mendes — may suffer from the presence of the “The Devil,” plus only mixed reviews.

The Italo family crowd is getting “The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep,” out on 178 via Sony. Pic is riding on lots of clever marketing, including its titular Loch Ness monster splashing around a Rome park pond.

Winona Ryder starrer “Sex and Death 101” is going out on 88 via Moviemax with scarce appeal — La Repubblica called it “singularly stupid.” New Line founder Bob Shaye’s kiddy pic “The Last Mimzy” is getting a niche release via Eagle Pictures.

With a pack of blockbusters guarding the lion’s share of the box office, new releases in Gaul were largely left fighting over the remains of the hunt on opening day, Wednesday.

“10,000 B.C.” bowed bravely at $468,000 on 562 for Warners. The scribes mainly offered a collective thumbs-down. “Not so bad from a director who’s shown he’s capable of worse,” said aVoir-aLire.

The much-anticipated cop thriller “MR 73,” which toplines Daniel Auteuil in helmer Olivier Marchal’s violent follow-up to 2004’s international hit “Department 36,” made Gaumont $418,000 on 478. Gaumont is looking forward to a good weekend, buoyed by mostly strong reviews. “The imagery is splendid. Auteuil is astonishing,” hailed TeleCineObs.

Local romantic comedy “Modern Love” may provide some petty cash for Pathe, still raking it in with twin mega-hits “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis” and “Asterix at the Olympic Games.” Helmer Stephane Kazandjian’s efforts earned $107,100 on 182 on Wednesday.

In other releases, French-American co-production “Julia,” a kidnapping double-cross caper toplining Tilda Swinton, earned StudioCanal $37,425 on 90. And “Dans la vie,” Gallic helmer Philipe Faucon’s laffer about a devoutly Jewish invalid’s relationship with her Arab carer, made Pyramide $27,820 on 70.

In Germany, “Horton Hears a Who!” (Fox) is starting with a considerable 800 copies, and is expected to cash in on the Easter holidays, traditionally a good period for family fare.

Also expected to go well is Jurgen Vogel starrer “Die Welle” (The Wave), a local drama about a social experiment to see how fascist structures affect people. Distrib Constantin launches the pic on 300 copies, “and will probably get the highest average-per-screen,” one booker estimates.

Another local top 10 candidate is Turkish mainstream family comedy “Recep Ivedik” (Kinostar), which has attracted 3 million people in Turkey, and is likely to draw crowds in its 60-screen Teutonic launch.

Romantic comedies “Love and Other Disasters” (3L Filmverleih) and “Lars and the Real Girl” (Central Film) made little impact on their first date (Thursday). “Walk Hard: the Dewey Cox Story” (Sony Pictures Releasing) also failed to draw big auds on day one and is expected to struggle this weekend.

Over the pre-Easter weekend, 13 bows flood Spanish theaters.

The new releases face a battle against the weather (forecasts are sunny) and the mammoth B.O. might of last weekend’s opener “10,000 B.C.”

On paper, the strongest bow this weekend is “Horton Hears a Who!” Released by Fox on a 470 copy-spread, “Horton” should comfortably overcome its closest rival for auds — Sony’s “The Water Horse,” which is entering its second frame.

“The Spiderwick Chronicles” is the second widest release, going out on 288 prints via UPI. “The movie’s only problem is that my 5-year-old daughter will be scared by some scenes and my parents probably won’t go to see it,” suggested newspaper ABC’s critic.

David Moreau and Xavier Palud’s “The Eye” bows on 217 via DeAPlaneta. The U.S. remake of the Pang brothers’ 2002 Hong Kong movie “follows a classic recipe: sex appeal and terror. And Jessica Alba is a crowd puller for Spaniards,” pointed out a booker.

Critics are unanimously positive about Fatih Akin’s arthouse offering “The Edge of Heaven,” which opens via Golem on a modest 30.

Additional reporting by Christian Koehl (Germany), Nick Vivarelli (Italy), Emilio Mayorga (Spain) and David Hayhurst (France)

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