LONDON — While seasonal fare baked in Hollywood was being devoured in most European territories, local delicacies were a hit with the Gallic crowd and Bollywood pics spiced up the market in Blighty.
Five of the top 10 pics in France last weekend were homegrown offerings — openers “Madame Irma” and “Mauvaise foi,” and holdovers “Prete-moi ta main,” “Ne le dis a personne” and “Coeurs.”
Multiplying the admissions figures by the average ticket price of $6.38, fourth placed “Madame Irma” from distrib Mars did $1,660,331 at 435 screens for a $3,816 screen average. The result for the leftfield pic, about an out of work male exec who masquerades as a female fortune teller, was welcomed by exhibs, especially considering reviews were largely negative.
The biggest home turf hit was Wild Bunch’s “Mauvaise foi,” the directorial debut from popular French comic actor Roschdy Zem, which scored $1,366,251 at 216 for a chart-topping $6,322 screen average.
As widely predicted by Brit bookers, high-octane Bollywood actioner “Dhoom 2” cleared the £1 million ($1.95 million) mark. The front-loaded Yash Raj release dipped 67% in its third frame for a $2,033,135 running cume.
This year has been a bumper year for Bollywood in the U.K. with four pics — “Fanaa,” “Don,” “Kabhi alvida naa kehna” and now “Dhoom 2” — having passed the £1 million benchmark.
Another Bollywood pic, Adlabs release “Baabul,” cracked the U.K. top 10. The $567,148 opening frame haul at 45 secured the eighth spot and delivered a $12,603 screen average — the best in the charts if the sizeable previews for “Happy Feet” and “The Holiday” are taken out of the equation.
Spanish-Mexican co-production “Pan’s Labyrinth” continues to draw sophisticated Brit auds in their droves. The magical realist drama from writer-director Guillermo del Toro dipped just 28% in its third frame and has now banked $2,160,491 for Optimum Releasing. Bookers are thrilled with the success. “For such a pretty difficult watch it has proved remarkably commercial,” said one.
At the top of the Brit charts, Sony’s “Casino Royale” felt the force of the high profile openers “Happy Feet” and “The Holiday,” dipping 48% in its fourth frame. The Daniel Craig starrer has now banked a whammo $82,090,818 in the U.K. and bookers forecast a $98 million ($50 million) final cume. Previous Bond franchise best performer “Die Another Day” finished up with £36 million, which converted to a puny $56.7 million in 2002.
In Germany, “Casino Royale” held top spot in its third frame despite the arrival of “The Departed” and “Flushed Away.” The Bond pic did $5.2 million at 856 and picked up a gold Bogey (the German box office award) for doing more than three million admissions in less than 30 days.
“The Nativity Story” left Euro auds as cold as ice. Taking a paltry $153,681 at 252 for a $610 screen average the Entertainment release opened in 13th spot in the U.K.. Reviews were poor and bookers did not expect the pic to do much biz. “What child in their right mind would want to see ‘The Nativity Story’ when there are alternatives like ‘Happy Feet,’ ‘Flushed Away’ and ‘The Santa Clause 3?,'” questioned one Brit exhib. “Story” also sunk without trace in Germany where it managed $80,682 at 159 for a $507 screen average. “‘The Nativity Story’ has been widely depicted in the press as a film targeted at conservative American Christians, and that’s going to turn off a lot of people here,” commented one Teuton exhib.
The top local performer in Germany was Senator’s romantic comedy “Where Is Fred?,” which dipped 31% in its fifth frame for a running total of $5.46 million. Bavarian laffer “Wer fruher stirbt ist langer tot” refuses to bow to box office gravity. Narrowly missing out on the top 10 in its 18th frame, the long-legged pic lost just 2% of its screens and 1% of its business en route to a $9,354,545 running cume.
In Italy, local laffer “Anplagghed at the Cinema” fell 20% in its third frame and lost the number one spot after two weeks at the top. Sony Picture’s opener “Open Season” took $1.67 million at 430 for top spot just ahead of the soph sesh of “Happy Feet” ($1.64 million at 493). French laffer “My Best Friend” from distrib Lucky Red netted $320,000 at just 43 for a chart-topping screen average of $7,500. The above expectations result for the Patrice Leconte-helmed pic was driven by strong reviews.
Yank fare dominated biz in Spain where “Happy Feet” took top spot ahead of the “Deja Vu” holdover and “The Holiday” debut. No Spanish film made the top 20. French comedy “Palais Royal!” failed to find favor with Spanish auds. Valerie Lemercier’s pic took just $85,213 at 95 for a $907 screen average. The 18th-placed bow was significantly down on Spanish booker’s optimistic projections.
Additional reporting by Liza Klaussmann (France), Ed Meza (Germany), Esther de Prado (Spain) and Bernhard Warner (Italy).