‘Glory’ outstrips ‘Prada’

Local WWII pic 'Days of Glory' storms the French charts

PARIS — Muscular bows from local pic “Days of Glory” and “The Devil Wears Prada” in its first outing on the European runway helped push the Gallic box office out of the September doldrums.

For the week ending Oct. 3, the French box office rose 40% on the previous week and 44% on the same week last year, according to estimates.

Leading the charge was World War II movie “Days of Glory” whose $5.4 million haul helped indie distrib Mars trounce Fox’s debut of ” Prada.”

Exhibs expected a strong bow from “Glory,” which looks at the conflict through the eyes of French Algerian fighters largely forgotten by official history, but pic’s excellent perf out-stripped even their high expectations.

Pre-release buzz was red hot in Gaul due to the sensitive subject matter and the fact that the film’s ensemble cast won actor kudo at Cannes this year.

The pic’s boffo bow also seemed to take Mars a bit by surprise; the distrib programmed the film on a somewhat cautious 460 playdates, giving it an average of $11,747 per screen. The average outshines those of some high-profile Hollywood releases, like “Mission: Impossible III,” whose tepid May bow in Gaul earned it an average of $7,482 from its 850 playdates.

While it failed to take the pole position in its first week, “The Devil Wears Prada” delivered a strong perf nonetheless in its Europe debut.

Pic is expected to pocket $4.14 million from 505 screens for the full week, a figure that would be in line with bookers’ positive expectations. The steely bow bodes well for “Prada” in Europe.

Bookers report good word of mouth, contrasting with reviews from French critics, who were unimpressed by the U.S. laffer.

“An amusing comedy, well brought up, which could have been 10 times funnier without the oh-so-Hollywood touch of morality at the end,” wrote one critic from weekly Figaroscope. A reviewer for daily Le Monde seemed equally let down: “This fluffy little object that is David Frankel’s film doesn’t come close to the genius of its star Meryl Streep,” he wrote.

Facing a steep drop in its second week, “World Trade Center” grossed just over $1.2 million for the full week. That figure represents a 48% drop for the film, which last week took pole position in the charts. Bland word of mouth following poor reviews helped push the pic down, said exhibs, who called its perf “uninspired.” Bookers said they did not expect the Oliver Stone film to hang around long.

Looking ahead, French exhibs are betting on strong perfs from “Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” which has already done gangbuster biz on home turf in Germany and local drama “Le Grand Meaulnes,” both of which open in France Oct. 4.