'Vicky' charms Spaniards
LONDON — “Tropic Thunder” whipped up top spot openings in Blighty and Germany, and Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” delighted Spanish auds in a quietish weekend at the European box office.Biz was again shored up by solid holdover biz from tuner “Mamma Mia!” “Thunder” reigned in Blighty with $4.6 million at 460 screens via Paramount. Cast members Jack Black, Robert Downey Jr. and Ben Stiller (who also directs) are well-liked by Brit auds and extensive U.K. media chatter about the Stateside “retard” controversy helped raise pic’s profile. “Thunder” was the only newbie to pierce the top 15. Disney release “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” was best of the rest, dipping only 12% in its soph sesh. Cume stands at $2.5 million. “Mamma Mia!” also held very well, dipping 33% in its 11th frame to take second spot with $1.3 million at 443. Cume now stands at a positively whammo $114.3 million via Universal. “Thunder” rolled into Germany with more of a breeze than a squall, barely out-performing “The Dark Knight” for a weak opening at the top of the charts. The only new film in the top 10, the laffer went out on just 347, garnering $1.5 million for Universal, which boasted three of the top five titles. In a close second, the Batman sequel nabbed $1.3 million toward a running cume of $28 million, followed by U’s “Wanted,” which took in $1 million. In fourth, “Mamma Mia!” sang up $914,865 and a total $34.4 million, making the Universal tuner the second biggest money-maker of the year behind Sony’s “Hancock.” Overall, ticket sales dropped 22% last weekend. For local exhibs, the mediocre showing at the box office was just the lull before the storm heading to German theaters this week, when a doe-eyed mobile trash compactor battles it out with left-wing terrorists as Disney’s “Wall-E” takes on Constantin’s “The Baader Meinhof Complex.” In France, StudioCanal release “Parlez-moi de la pluie” (Let it Rain) managed a strong first five-day showing. The comedy toplining and helmed by Agnes Jaoui took in $2.8 million on 443 prints. “Mamma Mia!” has not been the smash hit in Gaul as it has proved elsewhere in Europe. The tuner dipped 42% in its second frame, pushing the cume to $6.6 million via Universal. Alexandre Aja’s horror “Mirrors” has proved a tidy earner for Fox. Off by 44% in its second frame, it’s cumed a better-than-expected $3.2 million. “We’re very happy to still be in third place after two weeks. We’re sure to get 400,000 admissions, which is great,” said Fox topper for sales Frederic Monnereau. Steve Carell vehicle “Get Smart” has done okay Gallic biz for Warners; down 49% in its second frame, it has netted $2.6 million. “Dan in Real Life” looks set for a middling perf at best for EuropaCorp, despite generally supportive local ink. It has earned $933,000 on 450 in its opening five days. In Italy, box office was down a little after the previous weekend’s post-holiday season surge. Despite a 55% soph sesh drop-off, “Hancock” held on to the top spot with takings of $3.6 million. The Will Smith superhero pic has now cumed $13.8 million in 10 days via Sony. In second place, the Coen brothers’ critically lauded laffer “Burn After Reading” took $2.8 million from 401 via Medusa. Italo box-office success story “Kung Fu Panda” banked another $1.5 million in its fourth frame for a cume of $23.1 million. Local drama “Il Papa di Giovanna” (Giovanna’s Father), directed by Pupi Avati, fell to fourth place in its second frame, taking $1.1 million from 357 screens for Medusa. Cume stands at $3 million. Limited-release local laffer “Il Pranzo di Ferragosto” (Mid-summer Lunch) is showing good legs. The Fandango release took $396,886 on 79 — up 10% on the previous weekend, helped by strong word of mouth. Its total box office now stands at $1.3 million. Meanwhile, a pair of Yank titles got off to lousy starts. At seven, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” (Warner Bros.) took just $291,913 from 198 for a less-than-stellar $1,474 average. And Peter Cattaneo’s comedy “The Rocker” bowed with an equally modest $231,531 off 149 screens for Fox. Spaniards gave a very warm welcome to “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” which nabbed $3.3 million on 332 via Warner Bros for a superb copy average of $9,817. Result reps Allen’s most successful opening ever in Spain and best bow of the year for a Spanish film (“Vicky” is co-produced by Spain’s Mediapro and Antena 3 Films, and U.S.’s Gravier Productions). And local bookers are forecasting a long run for “Vicky” on home turf. “The papers, TV and radio are flooded with all kind of news, gossip and commentaries about ‘Vicky’. It’s a wonderful campaign everywhere!” said an upbeat booker. “‘Vicky’ is more than a pic in Spain, it has became an event celebrating Barcelona, Oviedo and local thesps Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz,” assessed another exhibber. As for the rest of openers, Universal’s “The Strangers” took $1.5 million on 257, and “Meet Dave” collected $944,638 on 254, placing second and sixth respectively. Fox’s Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara pic “The Argentine” showed good traction, coming fourth in its third frame, pushing the cume up to $7.9 million. Guerrilla fighter and revolutionary icon Che remains a popular figure with Spanish and European students. As elsewhere in Europe, “Mamma Mia!” is delighting Spanish auds. Tuner slid only 27% in its seventh sesh for a $17.2 million running total. Additional reporting by Ed Meza (Germany), Emilio Mayorga (Spain), Michael Day (Italy) and David Hayhurst (France).