LONDON — Michael Herbig’s toon pic “Lissi” looks set for the top spot in Germany this weekend, whilst in the U.K. and Spain, “Saw IV” is out to take B.O. scalps as it opens day-and-date with the U.S.
Constantin’s “Lissi” is likely to pull the rug from under the feet of “Ratatouille” at the top of the German charts.
Herbig, who has become a cinematic institution on home turf thanks to his blockbusting genre spoofs “Manitu’s Shoe” and “Dreamship Surprise,” this time aims his barbs at Ernst Marischka’s hugely popular “Sissi” trilogy from the 1950s, which starred Romy Schneider as a 19th-century Bavarian princess.
One of the most anticipated local titles of the year, the animated feature is sure to pull in Herbig fans en masse.
Exhibs predict an opening well north of $8 million. “Manitu’s Shoe” opened with $8.3 million in 2001, while “Dreamship Surprise” took in a whopping $18.7 million in its opening weekend in 2004.
Also generating strong critical buzz is Andrew Dominik’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” Although Westerns have generally had a tough time with German auds, Brad Pitt’s popularity and pic’s strong reviews could translate into a strong box office performance.
Trade magazine Blickpunkt: Film called the Warner release “a milestone in the genre, a ballad about the illusion of fame and the tragic psychological portraits of two men responsible for each other’s downfall.”
Stefan Westerwelle’s local drama “Solange du hier bist,” the story of an elderly man whose conservative but closeted life revolves around his regular meetings with a young male prostitute, will likely generate plenty of biz in urban specialty venues. Pic goes out via Pro-Fun.
Senator’s “Halloween” may benefit from its franchise recognition as well as next week’s trick or treat celebration, while the distrib’s release of French pic “Odette Toulemonde,” from Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, may attract specialty interest among a few Francophile movie fans.
The biggest opener in the U.K. is horror sequel “Saw IV,” which goes out at 394 sites via Lionsgate U.K. The gruesome franchise has a firm, and growing, following in the U.K. “Saw” took $6.8 million, “Saw II” banked $7.2 million and “Saw III” bagged $8.5 million.
David Cronenberg’s London-set “Eastern Promises” goes out on 280 via Pathe and looks set for a solid bow. The pic opened the Times BFI London Film Festival on Oct. 17 and has received lots of media attention since. Cronenberg and stars Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts and Vincent Cassel all attended the high-profile gala screening.
Cronenberg’s “A History of Violence,” which also toplined Mortensen, took $3.8 million at U.K. theaters.
Optimum Releasing wheel out Michael Moore’s “Sicko” on 165. Pic received an Oct. 24 gala screening at the London Film Festival. Campaign has included some savvy guerrilla marketing. Iconic London statues of Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt have been accessorized with sickly white bandages to promote the pic.
Optimum scored a massive hit with Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” in 2004, which opened with $1.3 million and had a $6.5 million final cume.
Out-of-synch Italy is getting “Live Free or Die Hard” this weekend, the Bruce Willis actioner being the country’s biggest opener, out on 430 via Fox.
Willis will be vying with local sci-fi spoof “2061,” toplining Italy comic Diego Abatantuono, out on 407 via 01 Distribution. But the latest “Die Hard” installment is expected to have the edge, since Willis is still a big draw and marketing has been massive.
Four other titles are getting smaller but still significant Italo bows, all launching from the Rome Film Festival.
Cate Blanchett starrer “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” is going out on 330 via Universal, amid generally strong critical response.
Keira Knightley starrer “Silk” is spinning out on 200 via Medusa, having been largely panned.
Silvio Soldini drama “Days and Clouds” is being outed by Warner Bros. on 176, with some raves behind it.
Francis Ford Coppola’s “Youth Without Youth” is getting its first release on 80 via BIM following mixed reactions.
In France, “Le Coeur des hommes 2,” a mid-life male bonding laffer toplining Gerard Darmon and Jean-Pierre Darroussin, got off to a fast start on its opening day, Wednesday. It bowed 40% stronger than the 2003 original, pleasing Pathe with a perf of $600,000 on 517. It met with some positive, but mostly tepid reviews. “Easy-viewing cinema, watched with neither boredom, nor particular interest,” wrote Les Inrockuptibles.
“Surf’s Up” also bowed strongly for Sony. First day returns stood at $424,550 on 636. The toon mockumentary received some stunning reviews. “A hilarious parody, the funniest thing I’ve seen this year,” Premiere wrote. “An excellent surprise,” said TeleCineObs.
Gallic crix were divided over “Second Wind.” Toplining Daniel Auteuil and Monica Bellucci, the highly stylized, much-hyped remake of a 1966 French gangster classic was trumpeted as “the ultimate film: psychologically challenging with a passionate narrative and visually splendid,” by aVoir-aLire. A less enraptured Telerama thought it “missing a motor more powerful than nostalgia for a particular genre and period.” Pic earned ARP Selection an opening day of $352,500 on 586.
In Spain, eight pics open this weekend and four target the same demos as current Spanish B.O. champ “The Orphanage.”
“I don’t think any other film will steal the crown from ‘The Orphanage’,” said one exhibber.
Oliver Hirschbiegel’s “The Invasion,” a remake of Don Siegel’s classic “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956), goes out on 292 via Warner. Pic has taken a drubbing from local crix but the combo of Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman could bolster B.O.
BVI’s “Saw IV” bows on 300 copies. “Saw III” managed a $6.7 million cume.
Also targeting similar demos as “The Orphanage” are Matthew Vaughn’s “Stardust” — out on 218 via UPI — and George Ratliff’s “Joshua,” which Fox release on 25.
Spanish crix traditionally revere Woody Allen but the Yank helmer’s latest offering “Cassandra’s Dream” has not been well received. Online site El Confidencial lamented “the decrepitude of a genius,” whilst newspaper El Pais suggested identity theft: “Someone has supplanted the master.”
Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield’s eco doc “Earth” bows on 103 via Wanda to far greater critical praise than Gore’s “An Uncomfortable Truth” received.
Additional reporting by Ed Meza (Germany), David Hayhurst (France), Emilio Mayorga (Spain) and Nick Vivarelli (Italy).