LONDON — A barrage of midrange fare, led by “The Brave One,” swamped the European box office this weekend, but despite first place finishes for openers in the U.K., Germany, Spain and France, no newcomer opened to truly boffo biz.
Some holdover biz was noteworthy. Local offerings “Run, Fat Boy, Run” and “Atonement” continue to prove a big draw in the U.K. and toon “Ratatouille” still refuses to succumb to box office gravity in France and Spain.
In the U.K., laffer “Fat Boy” once again showed good legs, claiming top spot for the fourth weekend running.
David Schwimmer’s directorial debut, which toplines well-loved Brit thesp Simon Pegg, dipped just 18% to $2 million at 398 screens. The strong holdover propelled Entertainment’s “Fat Boy” to a running cume of $16 million.
Proving equally durable on home turf is Joe Wright’s period romancer “Atonement.” The Keira Knightley starrer — also in its fourth frame — dropped 25% to $1.8 million at 413.
Universal’s “Atonement” has been playing very well mid-week and, although it has not managed a weekend win, boasts a cume of $17.4 million — $1.4 million more than “Fat Boy.”
Adam Sandler comedy “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” held well in its soph sesh, dipping just 24% for a $5 million 10 day take via Universal.
Sony’s “Superbad” is also retaining auds. The raunchy high school comedy dropped off 29% in its third frame for a $9.7 million cume.
Solid holdover biz was partly due to the fact that none of the many newcomers made much of an impact at U.K. wickets.
Paramount’s horror remake “Halloween” came in fifth with a below-expectations $1.3 million at 372. A big drop off for the R-rated pic is expected by exhibs.
George Clooney starrer “Michael Clayton” opened with a decent enough $1.2 million (including $105,486 previews) at 295 for Pathe. Pic bows Stateside this weekend.
Jodie Foster starrer “The Brave One” flopped, taking just $1 million (including $112,560 in previews) at 377 via WB.
“The Simpsons Movie” is still on top in Italy, while good bows for “Evan Almighty” and “Hairspray” took the number two and three spots respectively in a soft sesh.
Late Italo release of the first Homer feature dropped 58% in its third weekend to $1.9 million and a $20.9 million take to date.
“Evan Almighty” defied disbelievers. Laffer, in which Morgan Freeman plays God, pulled $1.8 million on 294, scoring a striking $6,197 per screen average, the flat frame’s highest.
“Hairspray” also outperformed expectations. The John Travolta musical bowed at $1.4 million on 302 via local distribbery Moviemax, countering the conventional wisdom that musicals don’t click in Italy.
John Travolta in drag easily beat out Jodie Foster in vigilante mode as Neil Jordan’s “The Brave One” bowed at number four with $868,847 off 251.
Robert Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror” — the second half of “Grindhouse” — scared up a modest $420,000 on 200, while horror sequel “28 Weeks Later” also underwhelmed Italo auds with $314,000 from 121.
On the arthouse front, Ken Loach’s immigration-themed drama “It’s Free World” opened decently with $203,000 from 62 via BIM Distribuzione, while “Atonement” dropped 49% in its second frame for $276,000 off 194, adding up to a lackluster $1 million running cume for this year’s Venice film fest opener.
The German box office grew 42.5% over the previous week thanks in large part to a robust performance by Universal’s “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” which took in $2.9 million from 497.
Overall, however, Teutonic viewers have been left cold by much of the new fare.
Constantin’s three-quel “Resident Evil: Extinction” opened in second with $1.3 million from 250 — less than the previous two installments in the franchise. Nevertheless, its second place opening surprised some local exhibs who had expected less.
“It goes to show that there really isn’t much out there,” said one local booker.
Also surprising was the feeble start of “The Brave One.” Foster has proven a strong box office draw here in the past. Opening at number five, the pic garnered $1.1 million from 401 via Warners.
At number seven, Fatih Akin’s German-Turkish relationship drama “Auf der anderen Seite” proved a major hit on the arthouse circuit. Pic, Germany’s selection for the foreign-language Oscar nomination, enjoyed a per location average of $6,152 — the highest among the top 10 — and pulled in a total of $662,335 from 97 via Pandora.
Critical acclaim boosted Akin’s film. Munich newspaper the Abendzeitung wrote, “viewers want to be moved and entertained. Two criteria that Akin has fulfilled with his film.”
Despite lots of pre-launch buzz, returns in France for controversial director Jan Kounen’s “99 francs” have been strong but not ground-shattering for Pathe. Pic, starring hot Gallic thesp Jean Dujardin, is based on a bestselling and dark comic book. It managed a first five day take of $3.8 million on 407, comfortably landing it top spot.
Despite generally scathing reviews in Gaul, “The Brave One” managed fifth spot for Warners, raking in just over $1 million on 277.
Down 26% on the week, “The Bourne Ultimatum” has now cumed $10 million in three frames for Par.
Having topped seven million ticket sales, whammo hit “Ratatouille” dropped 20% in its ninth frame for a cume just short of $61 million. Paris-set toon is the B.O. hit of the year in Gaul.
In Spain, Fox’s “Mataharis” bettered bookers’ expectations on its home turf bow.
Despite not taking any prizes at last week’s San Sebastian Festival, where it played in competition, Iciar Bollain’s femme detective drama got the thumbs up from most critics at the fest and took $507,456 over the weekend frame at a chart-topping copy average of $4,451.
There were few other surprises at the Spanish B.O. where holdovers fell away sharply other than “Ratatouille.” In its ninth frame it dipped just 23% for a $19.2 million cume.
As expected, Brett Ratner’s “Rush Hour 3,” and “The Brave One” conquered first and second places at Spain’s B.O.
Tripictures’ “Rush Hour 3” took $1,283,207 with a copy average of $4,060. Result put it just ahead of Warner’s “The Brave One,” which nabbed $1,246,806 at a slightly better average of $4,212.
As for niche films, Golem’s “Conversations with My Gardener,” which opened on a modest 31 prints, added four more prints in its third frame and dipped just 14% for a good $3,403 per copy average.
Local pic “Salir Pitando” slipped 34% in its second frame, for a respectable cume of $1.4 million.
Additional reporting by Ed Meza (Germany), Nick Vivarelli (Italy), David Hayhurst (France) and Emilio Mayorga (Spain).