Curtis charms Euro exhibs with ‘Love’

Cinema Expo lacks celebs; studios tout pic clips

AMSTERDAM — Pity the international distrib, who so often has to promote pics in the absence of travel-wary Hollywood talent.

At Cinema Expo, the major players are making brave efforts anyway. And certainly the screenings, trailers and extended outtakes of their upcoming releases have been well received by Euro exhibs at the annual trade show.

But unlike similar Stateside confabs, there’s seldom any star power other than a bunch of taped remarks from topliners and helmers. “Sorry I couldn’t be at Cinema Expo, but…” comes the repeated refrain from the missing-in-action movie talent.

So it was a special treat when well-known British screenwriter Richard Curtis turned up to promote his directing debut, Christmas romancer “Love Actually,” for Universal/UIP.

“I’m slightly embarrassed I couldn’t find a good reason not to be here,” Curtis deadpanned. “I was busy — just not so busy I couldn’t be here.”

Coming as it did after several taped apologies from those introducing other UIP titles, his droll statement drew rolling laughter in the large auditorium of the RAI convention center. Better still for U, UIP and Curtis, so did the 10-minute clip from the Working Title-produced pic.

Also well received were scenes from Par’s action sequel “Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life” and DreamWorks’ tooner “Sharkslayer,” both also to be distribbed by UIP in Europe.

Twentieth Century Fox execs Tuesday showed clips from upcoming pics such as “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and exhibs got full screenings of MGM’s Fox-distribbed “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde” and Fox Searchlight’s “In America.”

A Miramax product reel was followed by a screening of upcoming laffer “My Boss’s Daughter.” Corporate cousin Disney is due to give a similar presentation of Mouse pics todayon Wednesday.

Also Tuesday, box office tracker Nielsen EDI awarded its annual Gold Reel Awards. Distribs won accolades for pics grossing $100 million or more internationally since the last Cinema Expo.

UIP, which fetched five Gold Reels for three U pics and two from DreamWorks; Sony and Warner Bros., both with four $100 million perfs; and Miramax and Disney, getting two awards apiece. New Line and Pathe each grabbed single-pic honors, and Fox scooped up three of the crystal Gold Reels — two for Fox pics and one for distribbing MGM’s “Die Another Day.”

Cinema Expo continues through Thursday.