Euro soccer vies with ‘Sex,’ ‘Skull’

Men, women go separate ways

LONDON — The European soccer Championships might have kicked off this weekend but European women have something else on their minds — a trip to the multiplex with their girlfriends to watch “Sex and the City.”

Female-skewed counterprogrammer “Sex” took top spot in soccer-mad Germany, the U.K. and Italy as soccer widows amused themselves.

The good news for “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is that, despite Euro 2008, male auds are still supporting the long-awaited return of the actioner franchise. “Crystal Skull” bested “Sex” in France and held top in Spain, where “Sex” is yet to bow.

As widely expected, “Sex and the City” and “Crystal Skull” dominated cinema biz in Blighty, where modest openers placed third, fourth and fifth in the charts.

Warm weather saw beaches and parks fill up and some cinemas struggle for trade.

Televised Euro 2008 matches drew some but not massive interest. Excitement about the tournament is somewhat muted in the U.K. since none of the home nations qualified for the finals, which are taking place this month in Austria and Switzerland.

After its monster U.K. bow, “Sex” dipped a hefty 65% in its second weekend, but took top spot with $6 million at 469 screens. The hyped TV spinoff has now banked $31.4 million for Entertainment in the U.K.

“Crystal Skull” dropped 52% in its third weekend to $5.2 million at 535 and a $64 million running cume via Paramount.

Third-placed comicbook actioner sendup “Superhero Movie” shrugged off predictably dismissive reviews to land a decent opening of $1.7 million at 396 via Momentum.

Sony’s slasher pic “Prom Night” fared less well, raking in $913,717 at 285 at a so-so screen average of $3,486.

Ben Affleck’s gritty thriller “Gone, Baby, Gone” — one of the best reviewed pics of 2008 in the U.K. — was unable to translate five-star reviews into big box office numbers. The Disney release collected $686,985 at 259.

Sergei Bodrov’s actioner “Mongol — The Rise to Power of Ghengis Khan” connected with arthouse auds, taking $362,680 at just 76 via The Works.

In Italy, “Sex” took the top spot in its second frame with “Skull” at number two and hot local holdovers “Gomorrah” and “Il Divo” trailing close, capitalizing on their Cannes nods.

“Sex” slid 31% for $2 million off 531 screens and a $7.2 million cume to date via local distribbery 01 Distribuzione. “Skull” dropped 48% to $1.7 million on 562 via Universal for a $15.3 million Italo three-week take.

“Gomorrah” continues to make a killing. Matteo Garrone’s naturalistic Neapolitan mob depiction dipped just 19% in its third frame for $1.3 million from 349 via distrib 01. Pic has a boffo $13 million running cume placing the Cannes Grand Prix winner among Italy’s top grosser this year.

Also going strong is Paolo Sorrentino’s “Il Divo,” which took $1.2 million on 358 via Lucky Red after two weekends, during which it has scored $4.6 million. Sorrentino’s caustic Cannes Jury Prize-winner about shady Italo elder statesman Giulio Andreotti is believed to be benefiting from Garrone’s success, and vice-versa, rather than a feared cannibalization of the two similarly themed pics.

On the whole, the Italo frame was flat, down 23% compared with the previous weekend, in line with Italy’s usual summer attendance slump, which so far is actually more moderate than usual.

Other Italo openers that did decent biz are the Helen Hunt helmed romantic comedy “Then She Found Me,” which scored $557,00 on 142 via Medusa, and Gallic helmer Eric Valette’s horror remake “One Missed Call,” which scared up $361,000 off 109 via Warner Bros. in five days.

The Italo frame’s big fiasco was doll franchise spinoff “Bratz,” which pulled $102,000 off 149 for a paltry $687 per-screen average via Eagle Pictures.

In the arthouse arena, Berlin Golden Bear-winner “The Elite Squad” fell flat with $94,000 from 56 via Mikado, while another Brazilian title — Cao Hamburger’s “The Year My Parent’s Went on Vacation” — had a better per-screen pull with $85,000 from 27 via Lucky Red.

In Germany, “Sex” and “Skull” managed to survive the soccer onslaught as hordes of patriotic Teutons crowded public viewing venues, sidewalk cafes, pubs and restaurants to watch Euro 2008, in which Germany is favorite for glory.

Benefiting from counterprogramming, “Sex” remained at the top of the charts, although the overall box office plunged 39%. Dropping 52%, “Sex” took in nearly $3.6 million from 836 locations for a running total of $13.5 million, while “Skull” managed to drum up $2.5 million, down 43% in its third frame, for a $22 million cume.

Taking the lion’s share of the box office, “Sex” and “Crystal Skull” left only scraps for its rivals.

In third, female-skewed counterprogrammer “What Happens in Vegas” garnered $622,021 toward a $9.8 million total, followed by Sony contender “Prom Night,” which grossed $276,703 from 180. Rounding out the top five, Falcom’s “The Eye” took in $272,091.

The week’s top 10 entries included Christina Ricci and James McAvoy starrer “Penelope,” which garnered $147,260 via Capelight/Central, and “Falco,” a biopic of the 1980s Austrian popstar, which managed $124,779 via Drei-Freunde/Filmwelt.

Gallic auds yet again demonstrated their cultural exceptionalism. While “Sex” may have been the top weekly draw in a most overseas markets, “Skull” pulled in over 95,000 more viewers from Wednesday to Sunday in France.

Dropping by 45% on the week in its third frame, “Skull” has now cumed $29.7 million for Paramount. Tailing off by 41% in its second frame, “Sex” has done $11.1 million for Metropolitan.

“We’re very happy with our returns,” said Metropolitan programming exec Paul Robert, adding, “The attendance level was down by only a bit over 40% after the second weekend. That’s less than in the U.S. and some other European markets.”

A few non-blockbusting new releases also fared fairly well. “21” had a strong first five days for Sony, earning $1.9 million on 294.

“JCVD,” featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme playing himself getting into various and hilarious scrapes in Europe and Hollywood, took in almost $790,000 for Gaumont on 364 over the same period.

Gaul’s sole representative in the box office top five — helmer Claus Drexel’s “Affaire de famille” (Family Affair) — also had a decent five-day perf, pulling $782,500 on 267 for local outfit La Fabrique de Films.

In Spain, UPI’s “Skull” — yet to face competish from “Sex” — held top, despite a 54% drop in its third weekend. Cume now stands at $24.5 million.

“This weekend saw ‘Indiana Jones’ show satisfactory stamina and a few minor bows take advantage of the lack of other strong competitors,” summarized a booker.

Sony’s “Made of Honor” placed second but plummeted 48% in its soph sesh for a running cume of $3.7 million. Fox’s “What Happens in Vegas” stood pretty firm and cumed $10.6 million placing fourth. “With a 39% fall in its fifth frame ‘Vegas’ still has cards to play,” pointed out a booker. UPI’s opener “Leatherheads” took $380,000 with a copy average of $3,020.

Copy average weekend champ was Golem’s “Emotional Arithmetic.” Paolo Barzman’s sophomore feature tallied $191,254 off 42 at an impressive $4,748 average. BVI’s “Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert” — out on just 12 — also posted a decent average: $4,614.

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

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