ROME — Disney’s “Ratatouille” was the big dish in the U.K. and Germany, but local fare topped the weekend’s charts elsewhere at the European B.O., most notably in Spain, where supernatural chiller “The Orphanage” scored one mother of an opener.
First-timer Juan Antonio Bayona’s psychological ghost-tale scared up a whopping $8.3 million, which is Spain’s third-best outing of the year.
Meanwhile, Italo fornication pic “SMS” ousted “Michael Clayton” from the top spot in Italy, and in Gaul, “Un Secret,” helmer Claude Miller’s hit tale of a family’s dark WWII secrets, stayed on top in its sophomore sesh.
“Ratatouille” picked up a box office feast at the Blighty weekend box office, bringing in $9 million at 503 playdates, more than four times its nearest rival, Sony’s “Resident Evil: Extinction,” which debuted in second place with $1.9 million off 311screens.
The foodie rat toon also boasted the highest per screen average of the fat Blighty frame, grossing nearly $18,000 per site.
A clutch of other pics also preemed strongly, with Eros Intl.’s “Bhool Bulaiya” and Yash Raj’s “Laaga Chunari Mein Daag” both entering the top 10. “Bhool” bowed in seventh place, bringing in $501,000 off only 45 sites, with an $11,000 per screen average, while “Laaga Chunari Mein Daag” grossed $500,000, also off 45 sites.
Other debut outings included Icon’s Kiwi spoof zombie flick “Black Sheep,” which grossed $500,000 off 176 playdates, and Warner Bros.’s “The Invasion,” which brought home $473,700 on 301 sites, in ninth and 10th place respectively.
Verve Pictures’ Kevin Costner serial killer pic “Mr Brooks” failed to make the top 10, bowing with $345,000 off 173 sites.
Universal saw 44% drops for both “The Kingdom” and “Atonement.” Sophomore frame of the political thriller brought in just over $1 million to bring its cume to $3.9 million, while helmer Joe Wright’s acclaimed Ian McEwan adaptation has now grossed $21 million at the U.K. box office.
In Spain, where it bowed over the country’s Hispanic Day holiday four-day frame, “The Orphanage” repped the first true-blue Spanish hit of the year.
Creepy pic distribbed by Warner Bros. bowed Thursday to a boffo first four-day $8.3 million on 350, playing off a long weekend, which broke a long nightmarish spell for local pics at Spanish wickets.
Produced by Barcelona production house Rodar y Rodar and Telecinco Cinema, the film production arm of broadcaster Telecinco, first-timer Juan Antonio Bayona’s chiller marked the second-highest opening ever for a Spanish film.
Santiago Segura’s “Torrente 3” remains unbeaten, with a first weekend $10.2 million, taken in September 2005.
But “Orphanage’s” figures are superb: It took $23,465 from the 350 print spread, huge for any film in Spain.
That repped 43% of the total Spanish B.O. for the four-day frame, according to Nielsen EDI, Spain.
Toplining Belen Rueda (“The Sea Inside”) “Orphanage” was the third-best bow of the year in Spain, behind “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” ($12.2 million) and “Spider-Man 3” ($11.5 million).
Spain’s film industry hopes “The Orphanage” will signal a turnaround in the box office fortunes for Spanish films, which have consistently underperformed throughout the year.
“Definitely, these good results are going to help everybody. If people once more start to go to the movies, this will mean a step-by-step recovery,” said a distrib.
While rubbing their eyes with glee, exhibs were trying to put a figure on the film’s final cume.
“We should be cautious, after such a fabulous first frame, but ‘Orphanage’ will probably have good legs,” said the exhibitor. The child ghoul horror pic has good word of mouth: “90% of cinemagoers are coming out happy and will recommend it,” said a second exhibitor.
” ‘Orphanage’ lures all kind of auds: young people eager to be scared, but also a more adult public, looking for a solid product,” said a distrib.
The 350 print run is hardly huge by Spanish standards.
“The ‘Orphanage’ 350 copy-spread means we can maintain the movie for several weeks at optimum returns. The movie is also undoubtedly enjoying good word-of-mouth,” said a happy Pablo Noguerole, general manager Warner Bros. Pics. Intl. Spain.
Universal’s “The Heartbreak Kid” took $1.6 million and “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising” nabbed $1.5 million.
“Death at a Funeral” got $484,739, making a good $4,945 average per copy.
Bets are now on as to which other Spanish films could continue a B.O. renaissance for local fare.
Tom Fernandez’s ” Suso’ s Tower,” was well reviewed at San Sebastian.
With “The Orphanage” Spanish Sitges standouts included Jaume Balaguero’s “REC” and Nacho Vigalondo’s “Time Crimes.”
Bowing January, Alex de la Iglesia’s “The Oxford Murders” has a strong teaser, name cast led by Elijah Wood, and is once more backed by WB and Telecinco.
In Italy, comedy/romancer “SMS,” about the adulterous effect of a text message mix up, clicked better than expected to oust classy George Clooney legal thriller “Michael Clayton” from the top spot.
Tamely trashy pic, toplining popular comic Vincenzo Salemme, pulled $1.82 million on 340 via Medusa.
“Michael Clayton” dropped 30% in its soph sesh for $1.3 million on 365, also via Medusa, adding up to a $3.8 million running cume.
Milla Jovovich starrer “Resident Evil: Extinction” came in third with $1.21 million on 246 via Sony, closely trailed by epic fairytale fantasy “Stardust,” starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, which debuted at $1.2 million on 262 via Universal.
“Invasion of the Body Snatchers” remake “Invasion,” as expected, bowed so-so pulling $514,000 off 168 via Warner Bros.
In Germany, “Ratatouille” appeared to be the only pic with any legs in a flat frame. Pic took the top spot and a further $6.5 million in its second session on its way to a $20.4 million cume over the weekend.
Overall, the German box office fell 35% from the previous week.
Political drama “The Kingdom” surprised some exhibs with its third place opening, but pic generated only $784,320 from 303 via Universal, followed by Kinowelt’s new entry “Premonition” with $659,289 on 304.
Local exhibs attributed the lethargic B.O. to the sunny skies over the weekend and a lack of exciting titles, adding that “The Kingdom” was perhaps too close to real-life headlines to attract escapist moviegoers, while “Premonition” lacked originality.
Constantin’s highly anticipated “Pornorama,” Marc Rothemund’s first feature since his award-wining Nazi-era drama “Sophie Scholl: The Final Days,” disappointed with its seventh-place opening.
The 1960s-set comedy, about two amateur filmmakers who set out to make “sex education” films, pulled in a measly $368,557 from 338 following lukewarm reviews.
Fox’s local comedy “Stellungswechsel,” about a group of unemployed men who start a male escort service, was in sixth in its sophomore session with $401,080 from 265 and a total box office of $1.5 million. At number eight, Pandora’s Turkish-German relationship drama “The Edge of Heaven” from Fatih Akin, in its third frame, continued to generate biz on the arthouse circuit, with $348,118 from 105 toward a $2 million cume.
In Gaul, Claude Miller’s “Un Secret” stayed on top, cuming over $6 million on 398 for UGC in its second frame.
“Planet Earth,” the BBC/Discovery Channel co-production, earned Gaumont $1.9 million on 449 in its first five days. Debuting simultaneously in France and Switzerland before wider European release, the full-length adaptation of the BAFTA and Emmy-winning TV series has had the strongest opening of any documentary in Gaul for nearly three years.
Elsewhere, returns are far less rosy. Hopes were high for helmer Jan Kounen’s big-budget satire “99 francs.” Down 39% on the week, it has cumed a mere $7.7 million after three frames on 444 for Pathe.
“Resident Evil: Extinction” dropped off 51% in its second frame for Metropolitan, having cumed $3.65 million on 405.
In fifth spot, “Knocked Up” has done reasonably well for Paramount on the back of generally good reviews.
The laffer’s first five days saw returns of $830,650 on 344. But Jean-Jacques Annaud’s latest, “His Majesty Minor,” looks a bit of a bust for StudioCanal.
The mythological fantasy toplining Jose Garcia and Vincent Cassel raked in a paltry $745,100 on 497 in its first five days.
Addional reporting by Ed Meza (Germany), David Hayhurst (France), Ali Jaafar (U.K.), and Emilio Mayorga (Spain).