Award winners make gains at B.O.

LONDON — Upmarket Academy Award winning pics such as “No Country for Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood” and “Juno” showed good traction across Europe over the Oscar weekend.

A lack of big action pic releases allowed holdover “Jumper” to remain springy with first place finishes in the U.K. and Spain. Teleportation thriller also bowed well in France.

In Italy, “Rambo” flexed the old muscles for a robust comeback in the numero uno slot, as expected, while “Sweeney Todd” debuted in second place, defying the old adage that musicals don’t click in Italy.

The fourth “Rambo” installment drew $2.7 million from 409 via Buena Vista Intl.

That was just barely ahead of “Todd,” which scored $2.4 million from 325 for Warner Bros., proving that both Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have big pull in Italy.

“Todd” scored the Italo frame’s highest per-screen average — $7,300 —if you exclude the “Persepolis” preview. The multi prize winning toon got a whopping $18,800 from each of just two Rome sites where BIM Distribuzione preemed it ahead of its real rollout this coming weekend.

“No Country for Old Men” bowed solidly with $1.7 million off 264 via Universal with Oscar gold now expected to pay off handsomely.

In France, local blockbuster “Asterix at the Olympic Games” finally lost its top spot as Cederic Klapisch’s “Paris” opened strongly.

The all-star cast and bittersweet, whimsical treatment of the lives and losses of ordinary dwellers of the French capital took in $5.4 million on 482 for Mars in its first five days.

Dropping 25% on the week after four frames, “Asterix” has broken the six million mark in domestic ticket sales for a cume of more than $53 million.

Fox’s “Jumper” opened to $4.7 million on 586 in its first five days.

“That’s the second best Hollywood opening for the year, and the fourth biggest overall. We’re very happy,” said Fox sales manager Marc Maeder.

Up 20% in its second frame, “The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep” made up for a slow start for Sony, taking the week’s fifth spot with a cume of almost $2.7 million. Take was swelled by school hols.

In Germany, local Disney franchise “Die wilden Kerle 5: Hinter dem Horizont” (Wild Kids 5: Behind the Horizon) kicked off in style, winning the weekend frame.

Though underperforming compared with its two immediate predecessors, the kid flick still scored a muscular $3.4 million at 630 screens.

Eco doc “Planet Earth” (Universum/Disney) slipped to second but stayed strong. In its third frame it retained its chart-topping screen average ($8,325 this weekend) en route to a running cume of $10.9 million.

Warners’ “Keinohrhasen” also refuses to give way. Down 26% from last weekend, it once again moved up in the charts to reclaim third position, with $1.6 million from 639 screens for a 10 week total of $50.3 million.

Warners’ “Sweeney Todd” entered the German charts at number five, slicing off $1.5 million from 320 screens.

In Spain, the traditional pre-Oscar slump kicked into gear. Total Spanish B.O. came to $11.9 million, $3.6 million less than a week earlier.

“People appear to be waiting to know the Oscar winners, and traditionally there are no strong bows over Oscar weekend,” explained a distrib.

Holdovers made most of the play Feb. 22-24.

Fox’s “Jumper” retained top spot in its soph sesh, with $2.2 million toward a $6.6 million total.

UPI’s “Charlie Wilson’s War,” the only significant opener, grossed an acceptable $1.6 million, and posted the best copy average of the frame, $6,212.

Teen pregnancy pic “Juno” was a weekend winner, gaining a remarkable 15% in its fourth frame toward a $4.5 million cume.

Anticipation for Oscar booty helped keep “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” firmly in the saddle. Gritty Yank pics slipped 24% and 22% in their second frames, respectively.

In the U.K., “Jumper” ($3 million) held top spot in its soph sesh despite the arrival of “Rambo” ($2.5 million).

“Rambo” biz was dented by leading exhib Odeon’s decision not to screen the pic (see separate story).

Pathe’s “Be Kind, Rewind” made the most of the “Rambo” spat, racing to an opening of $2.7 million at just 366 (including previews of $413,244). Punchy bow by Michel Gondry’s quirky “Be Kind, Rewind” was significantly above industry expectations.

“Juno” — out via Fox — continues to show good legs in Blighty. The Ellen Page starrer dipped just 20% in its third frame for a $13.4 million total.

Other Oscars contenders held well on Oscars weekend. “There Will Be Blood” dropped off just 6% from 16% more locations in its third frame for a $3.4 million total for Disney. And “No Country for Old Men” also benefited from the Academy Award exposure, dipping just 17% in its sixth frame for an $11.3 million cume via Par.

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

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