Field is clear for holdovers
LONDON — Holdovers such as “Jumper” have space to flourish at the European box office this weekend, where no new megapic opens across the continent.“Rambo” arrives bruised and bloodied in Blighty due to a distrib/exhib spat (see separate story) but should punch its way to a strong Italo bow. In Italy, the “Rambo” bow will be in combat with “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” and “No Country for Old Men” in a crowded frame full of local holdovers with staying power. The fourth “Rambo” is going out on 460 via Buena Vista International amid expectations for a robust Italo outing, boosted by marketing muscle and Stallone’s trek to promote. “Sweeney Todd” is rolling out on 330 via Warner Bros., boosted by rave reviews — La Repubblica lavished particular praise on the art direction by Italy’s own Oscar-nommed Dante Ferretti — but with some exhibbers wary that musicals have a tendency not to click with local auds. Oscar buzz and a big promotional push are expected to propel “No Country for Old Men,” which is debuting in Italy on 265 via Universal, and has the critics gushing praise for the Coen brothers. “The least you can say about this film is that it already qualifies as a classic,” wrote La Stampa. Meanwhile, local romancer “Parlami d’amore” is expected to remain a big draw following its stellar bow last week and Nanni Moretti starrer “Quiet Chaos” looks headed for a solid third frame. In the arthouse arena, dark drama “He Was a Quiet Man,” toplining Christian Slater and helmed by Frank Capello, is going out on 40 via Italo distrib One Movie. Bim Distribuzione is previewing “Persepolis” on two Rome screens ahead of its national rollout Feb. 29. In France, the buzz surrounding helmer Cederic Klapisch’s “Paris” seems to be paying off for distrib Mars. Take on the travails and triumphs of ordinary Parisians facing various real or potential tragedies — played by a large ensemble of all-star thesps including Juliette Binoche, Romain Duris, Francois Cluzet and Karin Viard — made $1.24 million on 482 on day one, Wednesday. Critics have been mostly effusive. Telerama felt that “in submitting these ordinary Parisians to the trials of dealing with death, Klapisch offers them new vitality, an unexpected rejuvenation.” But Yank actioner “Jumper” did not find favor with Gallic reviewers. Helmer Doug Liman is “totally subjugated to commercial considerations” in the opinion of Le Monde. Such considerations show real promise for Fox, which enjoyed a first-day take of $1.2 million on 586. In more limited bows, kiddie laffer “Un Chateau en Espagne” brought in $64,000 on 187 for EuropaCorp. Brian De Palma’s “Redacted” bowed reasonably well on only 49 screens for $34,485 for TFM. Based on a real incident of alleged U.S. Marines’ war crimes in Iraq, the French critical response has been positive. “A tour de force,” acclaimed Les Inrockuptibles. Cahiers du Cinema devoted its cover and a major section of its February issue to the work. One of its critics felt that it “liquidated the ambiguities of yesteryear. Like lightning, it leaves you dazed and staggering.” In Germany, a lack of high-profile openers means last weekend’s champ “Planet Earth” should again fare well. Highest profile opener is Warner horror tuner “Sweeney Todd.” German auds like Tim Burton, and love musicals, but reviewers were divided about the resulting mix — Abenzeitung calling it “boring … and without substance,” while Suddeutsche Zeitung praised its “singular mix of Dickens-like realism and horror fairy tale theatricality.” Local sequel “Die Wilde Kerle V: Hinter dem Horizont” (Wild Kids 5: Behind the Horizon) is expected to draw kids in their droves. The fifth outing for Disney’s home grown hit franchise pits the Wild Kids soccer team against a team of vampires. Reviews have been supportive with Blicktpunk:Film saying that “this could be the most successful of the series.” Date-nighters may enjoy the scenery in Tobis’ “Love in the Time of Cholera,” but reviews for torrid love pic have been only tepid. Suddeutsche Zeitung rating the passion level more British than Latin. Romancer may have better luck with German auds than in the U.S., but no fireworks are expected. In Spain, a quiet frame gives holdovers the opportunity to show good legs. The strongest opener is Mike Nichols’ “Charlie Wilson’s War,” which goes out on 256 via UPI. Pic got mostly positive reviews from local crix. “A great movie with political intrigue and conspiracies, served up with strokes of humor,” said monthly Fotogramas. ” ‘Wilson’s War’ talks about the White House backroom operations with strength, sarcasm, self-confidence and cynicism,” said newspaper El Pais. Bookers expect “War” to mount a spirited challenge for “Jumper’s” top spot but ultimately fall short. Menno Meyjes’ romantic comedy tale “Martian Child” lands on a cautious 140 via Tripictures. Reviewers have branded it overly soppy despite a good script. Franck Khalfoun’s “Parking 2″ goes out on 133 via DeAPlaneta. Horror title is expected to open okay and then dropoff sharply — standard for the genre. Alta Films release Ken Loach’s hard-hitting immigration drama “It’s a Free World…” on a limited 85 copy spread. “This movie will only please lovers of a particularly militant cinema, but not others,” forecast a distrib. Loach’s recent movie “The Wind That Shakes the Barley” banked $2.2 million in Spain. Additional reporting by Andrew Horn (Germany), Nick Vivarelli (Italy), Emilio Mayorga (Spain) and David Hayhurst (France).