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‘Excited’ posts Almodovar’s best B.O. bow

Helmer's comedy will not play at Cannes

MADRID

Bucking recession and a drastic hike in Spain’s cinema ticket sales tax, Pedro Almodovar’s raunchy airplane-set comedy “I’m So Excited,” distribbed by Warner Bros., bowed in Spain Friday to his best hometurf box office opening weekend — €1.93 million ($2.5 million).

Screen count was also Almodovar’s highest at 298.

Helmer’s previous first-sesh high was 2006’s “Volver,” which grossed $2.27 million and went on to make $13.2 million, his biggest local hit.

“Excited” is Almodovar’s first comedy since 1988’s “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.”

Per-screen-average of $8,407 suggests strong legs for “Excited,” which opens in Italy (March 21), France (March 27) and the U.S. (June 27), via Sony Pictures Classics.

“This was mostly a comedy, but Pedro’s films never stick to just one genre, so ‘Excited’ is a drama in its plot and characters, which is original but also Pedro’s brand, which works,” said producer Agustin Almodovar at El Deseo, who confirmed “Excited” would not play major European festivals — scotching any prospect of a Cannes slot — due to their exclusivity demands.

Results are slightly above expectations reflecting Almodovar’s return to comedy, according to Pablo Nogueroles, Warner Bros. Spain’s managing director.

Aiding its boffo bow was a campaign orchestrated by El Deseo, Warner Bros. and pubcaster RTVE that mixed conventional media spend — a virtual plane zooming over the transmission of a crunch Real Madrid-Barcelona soccer match last Tuesday — with Almodovar’s new media sensibility.

Latter was seen in a flash-mob dance to pic’s title song last Saturday in Madrid and Almodovar kept up a Twitter-able, drip-flow of blogs, clips, revelations, confessions and photos while “I’m So Excited” was at project stage.

Inadvertently, a negative review by El Pais’ Carlos Boyero helped goose attendance, turning “Excited” into a must-see pic for anyone with a social or Internet life in Spain.

“The reviews — good and bad — have been rejuvenating. It’s just like the old days in the early ’80s, like we’re beginning again,” said Agustin Almodovar.

(Emilio Mayorga and Emiliano de Pablos in Madrid contributed to this article.)

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