LONDON — David Schwimmer’s directorial debut “Run, Fat Boy, Run” took top spot in Blighty this weekend while “Live Free or Die Hard” and “The Bourne Ultimatum” topped the charts in Spain and Germany.
Simon Pegg starrer “Run, Fat Boy, Run” hit the ground running in the U.K. with a chart topping $4.1 million (including $330,227 in previews) at 413 screens.
The superbly reviewed Ian McEwan adaptation “Atonement” nabbed second spot with $3.3 million at 411 via Universal.
The punchy one-two openings delighted Brit bookers.
The “Fat Boy” bow was ahead of Pegg’s cult “Shaun of the Dead,” which opened to $3.3 million in 2004. But “Fat Boy” is expected to fall away faster than “Shaun” as there is a lot of comedy titles being released this month including buzz title “Superbad.”
To one exhib, the “Fat Boy” bow confirms “Hot Fuzz” lead Pegg as “the biggest British comedy star currently in the marketplace.”
The “Atonement” result largely met exhibs’ expectations who consider it “a seven-day movie. Not the sort of film audiences rush out and see on opening weekend.”
English director Joe Wright’s previous feature “Pride and Prejudice” opened to $5.1 million en route to a $29.5 million total. The “Atonement” opening puts it on track for a $20 million final cume, according to bookers — a good result considering the McEwan book is nowhere near as widely known or read as Jane Austen’s classic.
Early awards season buzz surrounding Keira Knightley’s impressive turn is helping drive B.O. biz on home turf.
The two newcomers generated most of the traffic this weekend which saw most holdovers slide at least 50%.
Overall biz dipped 12% on the previous weekend but was up 59% on the same weekend last year.
Saturday biz was hit hard by an feast of televised sport: at one point the English national soccer, rugby and cricket teams were all on TV (and all winning). Warm weather also put a dent in admissions as auds looked for some late summer rays.
“Bourne Ultimatum” slipped 51% in its fourth frame for a boffo $40.8 million running cume. Yank laffer “Knocked Up” slid 47% for a $13.1 million take after three frames.
Bourne arrived in Germany and sent overall biz up 12%. U’s “Ultimatum” bagged top spot with $4.7 million at 703. The result was bang in line with upbeat industry expectations.
“Knocked Up” slipped just 25% in its third frame for a $7 million running cume.
Constantin’s local laffer “Kein Bund Furs Leben” dipped 41% in its soph sesh for a $2.9 million cume. Comedy is the only local pic in the top 10.
Opener “Hairspray” failed to make a big splash in Germany. The musical debuted in fifth spot with $756,000 at 230 via WB. Exhibs feel it could have done bigger B.O. with a bigger marketing push.
In upmarket Teuton sites, French arthouse offering “St. Jacques … La Mecque” about estranged sisters who reunite to do the Saint James’ Way pilgrimage from France to Western Spain collected almost $300,000 from just 55 for a $5,400 screen average — second only to “Ultimatum” ($6,618). The pilgrimage theme has been popularized in Germany recently through the diary of TV comedian Hape Kerkeling, which has topped the book sales charts for weeks.
Bruce Willis actioner “Live Hard or Die Hard” expanded into Spain and landed top spot comfortably with $3.6 million. Bookers welcomed the punchy bow but are unconvinced whether it will show good legs. The previous pic in the franchise did $7.8 million in Spain.
Fellow actioner “Ultimatum” slipped a respectable 42% for an $11.8 million running Spanish take.
Last week’s promising local opener “La Carta esferica” dropped off 45% in its second weekend, moving the cume to $1.8 million. Exhibs report that “Carta” word of mouth is not strong. Alta’s comedy “El Club de los suicidas” is also fading pretty fast — down 54% drop in its third frame.
Also continuing to play well in Spain is “Ratatouille,” which dipped 31% in its sixth frame for a $17.4 million total. The toon about a rat who wants to be a chef has delighted auds across Europe and is still to bow in Blighty, Germany and Italy.
In France, “Ratatouille” topped the charts for the sixth straight frame with another $1.5 million at 749 toward a whammo $52.6 million cume.
“Shrek the Third” easily retained the top spot in its second Italo frame, while three Venice titles — including the world bow of Bob Dylan biopic “I’m Not There” — debuted decently, riding their Lido launches.
“Shrek” dropped 48% for a still hefty $4.3 million on 698, giving the green ogre a $20.1 million running cume.
“I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” bowed in the number two spot, pulling $685,000 on 198. Comedy starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James as two firefighters who fake being gay to get domestic partner benefits resonated in this country where gay weddings are a big issue due to Vatican disapproval.
Sandra Bullock thriller “Premonition” came in third with $569,000 on 223 via Eagle Pictures.
After a ho-hum bow in Venice, anti-Mafia pic “The Sweet and the Bitter” opened at number four with 363,000 on 243, in line with expectations for this hard-hitting Medusa drama, which was the frame’s widest opener.
Todd Haynes’ “I’m Not There,” which nabbed a Venice Special Jury Prize and a thesping nod for Cate Blanchett — as one of six Dylan impersonations — opened at number seven, pulling 271,000 on 191, via BIM Distribuzione. Exhibs consider the result to be decent given the pic’s highly experimental narrative structure.
Also from Venice, Sabina Guzzanti’s “Viva Zapatero!” follow-up, “Sympathy for the Lobster,” in which a troupe of Italo TV comics soul-search in a Sardinian village, opened at number 10 with $ 135,000 on 100 via Istituto Luce.
Additional reporting by Christian Koehl (Germany), Nick Vivarelli (Italy) and Emilio Mayorga (Spain).