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‘Bourne’ has U.K., Spain in sights

Expectations high for 'Ultimatum'

LONDON — Hollywood three-quel “The Bourne Ultimatum” arrives in the U.K. and Spain amid high expectations that it will replicate its U.S. B.O. success.

Fact that scenes from Paul Greengrass’ kinetic actioner are shot in London, Madrid and Paris should add to its appeal to Euro auds.

Jason Bourne is hunting down top spot in Blighty this weekend as “Ultimatum” arrives in theaters buoyed by upbeat local industry and critical buzz.

“I have never seen a more exciting finale to an action trilogy than ‘The Bourne Ultimatum,’” declared James Christopher in the Times. “It’s all relentlessly ridiculous, and relentlessly enjoyable. The Bourne franchise delivers a lot more entertainment bangs for your buck than any other action picture,” praised Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian.

“Rush Hour 3” opened well last weekend but bookers expect fellow actioner “Ultimatum” to easily topple it from top spot this weekend.

The Aug. 15 U.K. premiere — attended by English director Greengrass, Matt Damon, Julia Stiles and others — got lots of media coverage.

“Ultimatum” preview figures of $2.5 million for Wednesday night and Thursday are “not huge” according to bookers but they are confident the pic is set for a boffo opening weekend bow.

Damon recently received a dose of publicity from a Forbes report, widely reported across Europe, which said that the Yank thesp is the most bankable in the world in terms of the box office return he delivers per salary dollar ($29).

The first pic in the “Bourne” franchise scored $15.9 million in the U.K. in 2002. Follow-up “The Bourne Supremacy” netted $23.4 million (2004).

Romanian director Corneliu Porumboiu’s “12:08 East of Bucharest” should play well to sophisticated Brit auds at arthouse sites. Reviews have been strong for the film fest circuit fave.

In Spain, the biggest question for the weekend is how “Ultimatum” and “Surf’s Up” will play. And the jury’s out on both, whose bows were pushed forward to Tuesday, due to a national holiday on Wednesday.

U’s “Ultimatum” promises more traction. Playing at a large but not humungous 425 copies, “Ultimatum” took a Tuesday-to-Thursday three-day take of $2.4 million.

“That’s not bad, but these days have seen many Spaniards on the move. We’ll have to wait until the weekend, when many Spaniards are back from holidays, to see just how popular the film is,” said an exhib.

In “Ultimatum’s” favor is that some of the action was shot in Madrid, Damon is popular in Spain and his character is being talked up by some media as the only rival to James Bond.

But the “Bourne” franchise has never punched blockbuster figures in Spain: “Identity” grossed $8.3 million, “Supremacy” $6.5 million.

“Surf’s Up” took a lower $1.2 million off 450 prints for Sony.

It was released Tuesday to highly disparate critical reactions. Film monthly Fotogramas gave it a “Don’t Miss” four out of five stars, lauding its risk-taking; El Mundo’s Metropoli leisure guide awarded it with just one star, lamenting the screenplay’s lack of originality.

“It’s technically highly proficient but surfing isn’t much of a national sport in Spain. But again, we’ll have to wait to the weekend to see if it consolidates,” the exhibitor commented.

Sony will be hoping “Surf’s Up” catches a wave at the Spanish B.O. this weekend after a flat opening in the U.K. Aug. 10-12.

In France, Paramount’s “Evan Almighty” managed a modest $260,000 on 400 on opening day. The laffer was panned by Gallic crix. “One of the most expensive and least funny comedies ever produced by Hollywood,” sniped Le Monde.

Romantic comedy “Caramel” was better received on its first day at French wickets. The pic about the lives and lusts of five friends in a Beirut beauty salon bowed at an impressive $242,000 on 182 for BAC. Helmed by and starring Nadine Labaki, it earned high marks with many crix and was well received at the Cannes film festival. BAC took a chance with dubbing a quarter of the prints from the Arabic original — most arthouse fare goes out subtitled in Paris. But the risk paid off and BAC now has plans to bump up the print run.

Paris-set toon “Ratatouille” continues to appeal to the taste of Gallic cinemagoers — it dipped just 28% in its second full Wednesday-to-Wednesday week, moving the running cume to $27 million.

In Germany, the Fantastic Four take on Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker at the box office this weekend in the latest round of tentpole wrestling, with exhibs expecting “Rush Hour 3” to outmuscle “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.”

Local auds turned out in droves in 2002 for “Rush Hour 2,” which made $16.5 million in Germany.

Constantin’s “Silver Surfer,” which hit screens two days earlier than the competition this week, is expected to match the $5.3 million garnered by the first installment in 2005. It has scored $1.1 million Tuesday-to-Thursday.

“Superhero movies usually have a hard time here,” noted one exhib. “With the exception of ‘Spider-Man,’ and, to a lesser extent, ‘X-Men,’ there’s not a huge following for comic book movies here. The combination of action and comedy in the ‘Rush Hour’ movies should attract more people,” he added.

Vying for less mainstream auds, Robert Thalheim’s “Am Ende kommen Touristen” (“And Along Come Tourists”), could benefit from positive reviews.

Going out via X Verleih/Warner Bros., pic follows the life-changing experience of a young German who opts for a year of civil service in Poland — at the concentration camp museum in Auschwitz.

Trade magazine Treffpunkt Kino wrote: “It’s not finger-pointing cinema, rather a moving film about desire, fear and hope.”

Stardust releases Simon Gross’ “Fata Morgana,” about a young couple who lose their way while touring the Moroccan desert and find themselves in the hands of a mysterious savior.

Pictorion’s “Lauf der Dinge,” from Rolf S. Wolkenstein, follows a group of young Teutons on their quest for fun, sun and finding themselves on Ibiza, while Holger Jancke’s documentary “Grenze” (“Border”) examines young East German soldiers who were trained as border guards.

Ed Aldridge’s Australian gay surfer drama “Tan Lines,” going out via Gmfilms, looks likely to generate interest in specialized urban theaters, while Sony Pictures’ “Reign Over Me,” from Mike Binder and starring Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle, is sure to enjoy crossover appeal thanks to strong reviews.

Newspaper Abendzeitung called “Reign Over Me” “a rare Hollywood jewel. With its high-caliber actors cast against type, the film is aimed at a wide audience but is nevertheless psychologically deep and emotionally stirring.”

Also hitting screens are Glenn Standring’s vampire fantasy “Perfect Creatures,” via Fox, and Claude Berri’s French comedy “Hunting and Gathering,” starring Audrey Tautou, via Prokino/Fox.

Additional reporting by David Hayhurst (France), Ed Meza (Germany) and John Hopewell (Spain)

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