Bond film opens top in Germany, Italy

LONDON — Sony’s “Quantum of Solace” hit paydirt in Europe with socko openings in major and minor markets and gritty holds on home turf in the U.K. and in France.

Brit superspy James Bond is showing great traction at the U.K. box office. “Quantum of Solace,” distribbed by Sony, followed up on its whammo, record-breaking bow with a more-than solid soph sesh.

The high-octane actioner dipped a very respectable 40% to take $14.4 million at 541 screens for a running cume of $49.2 million. Bookers are delighted with the gritty hold, which suggests word-of-mouth is more positive than the reviews, which were mostly mixed. The huge opening and solid holdover biz gives “Solace” good momentum going into its Nov. 14 U.S. bow.

“Solace” utterly dominated U.K. cinema trade, with only one other pic — “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” — passing the $2 million mark. The Disney musical dropped 45% in its third frame for a strong $31.2 million running cume. None of the main openers — “Pride and Glory” (Entertainment), “W.” (Lionsgate U.K.) or “Easy Virtue” (Pathe) made much impact.

Underlying the enduring appeal of Ricky Gervais to Brit auds, “Ghost Town” is showing good traction. Supernatural pic, in which Gervais stars, placed third, dipping only 9% in its third frame for a running take of $7.1 million via Para.

At arthouse wickets, Steve McQueen’s “Hunger” is proving a good runner for Pathe. The hard-hitting pic about Bobby Sands and the Irish Republican’s dirty protest fell only 10% in its second weekend to $190,741 at 62. The 10-day cume stands at $575,893.

In Germany, “Quantum of Solace” soared to the top of the charts, raking in the biggest opening take so far this year as well as the best ever for a Bond film at Teuton wickets.

The massive success of “Casino Royale,” broad TV coverage of the film, including making-of reports and interviews with crew and cast, the huge popularity of Daniel Craig and the fact that this is the first 007 film made by a German-speaking director all helped generate a monster opening take of $15 million from 814.

As elsewhere, “Quantum” has met with mixed reviews in Germany.

Daily newspaper Leipziger Volkszeitung decried the pic for putting style over substance, saying Bond has become more artificial: “Marc Forster has simply taken a handful of attractive locations and shot a preposterous C-movie story.”

By contrast, popular broadsheet Bild, while calling “Solace” “the saddest Bond ever,” wrote: “When you’ve left the cinema, you’ve forgotten all of the past Bonds. Proto-007 Sean Connery finally has his progeny! Daniel Craig is 00-super.”

Following in a distant second, “HSM3″ added $1.75 million in its third frame to a running cume of $13 million.

In third, surprise French hit “Welcome to the Sticks” took in $974,343 toward a $2.5 million total.

Local fantasy pics “Die Geschichte vom Brandner Kaspar” and “Krabat” held on to the fourth and fifth slots, with total cumes reaching $5.7 million and $8.6 million, respectively.

In Italy, “Solace” surpassed exhib expectations by a quantum, scoring $3.9 million from 467 in a flat frame.

The 007 saga’s 22nd installment pulled an $8,270 per-screen average, considered killer in a land that has never been that fond of Bond.

Italy’s second-biggest opener, Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger starrer “The Burning Plain,” performed passably with $676,000 off 216 via Medusa for the directorial debut of the directorial debut of “Babel”-scribe Guillermo Arriaga.

Medusa has been doing brisk biz with Gallic laffer “Welcome to the Sticks,” which dropped just 37% in its second frame for $826,000 from 312 for a $2.5 million running cume.

The other notable holdover is “HSM3,” which slid 51% to $2.6 million from 487 in its sophomore sesh for a $9 million Italo cume to date.

Meanwhile, “Un Gioco da ragazze” (Girl’s Play), local helmer Matteo Rovere’s debut, played poorly pulling just $318,000 from 173 via 01 Distribuzione, while gory Gallic chiller “Frontier(s)” scared up slightly better biz with $317,000 off 112 via Moviemax.

Tyke-targeted Teutonic toonpic “The Three Robbers,” by Hayo Frietag, tanked big time totaling a mere $39,739 from 74 via BIM Distribuzione.

Down a respectable 42% in its second frame, “Solace” is also a runaway hit in Gaul. With nearly 2.5 million admissions in its first 10 days, it’s cumed $18.6 million on 787 for Sony and looks likely to be among the top 10 performers of 2008.

“Body of Lies” had a solid, if not eye-popping bow for Warners. The spy thriller took in $2.3 million on 428 in its opening five days.

Off 50% on the week in its third frame, “Public Enemy Number One, Part 1″ is proving a solid earner for Pathe. The biopic of infamous criminal Jacques Mesrine has cumed almost $12.1 million on 491, with part two opening Nov. 19.

For better or worse commercially, “Saw V” has evaded most of the censorship-centered hoo-hah that surrounded earlier offerings from the carnage-laden franchise in Gaul. It earned $1.8 million on 181 for Metropolitan.

With no “Solace” yet at Spanish cinemas, Warner’s “Body of Lies” opened top with $2.3 million with a meaty screen average of $7,759. In line with industry expectations, “Body of Lies” easily out-muscled other openers, which bowed on far fewer prints.

“HSM3″ slumped a sizable 51%, though it has already cumed $9.8 million after three weekends.

Second-best opener was European Dreams Factory’s “Bella,” which came in at ninth. Despite a generally bad response from critics, “Bella” collected $366,546 and scored the second best print-average of the week; $3,755. “There’s more to come from ‘Bella’ — it promises to show legs,” forecast one booker.

Ahead of its wide Euro release, Par’s “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” continues to do gangbusters biz in Russia, where it has bagged $35.8 million after two weeks. The toon opened successfully in Hungary this weekend, pulling $656,000 — the second-highest opening take for a toon in that market.

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

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