ROME — The Coen brothers and Woody Allen were the toast of the European box office this weekend.
A mosaic of expansions also saw “Wall-E” launch at numero uno in Italy and “Hellboy 2: The Golden Army” march atop the Teutonic B.O.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s “Burn After Reading” had a hot first-place bow in Blighty, where Universal’s spy spoof beat out Paramount’s “Eagle Eye” for the top spot with $3.3 million off 400. “Burn” also retained the top spot in its Spanish sophomore sesh.
Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” ruled in its record-breaking second Gallic frame, while also opening strong in Italy.
The sparse Italian frame was dominated both by “Wall-E,” which launched on a par with expectations taking $3.5 million off 592 via Buena Vista International, and by Allen’s love triangle pic.
“Barcelona” bowed in Italy at number two with $2.1 million from 378 via local distribbery Medusa; not a best Italo bow for Woody Allen, but still robust.
Italy’s three other openers, all in the arthouse arena, were Jessica Lange-starrer “Bonneville,” which opened with $118,000 from 58 via Teodora; scribe Alessandro Baricco’s directorial debut “Lesson 21,” which pulled $97,000 from 48 via 01 Distribuzione; and Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly laffer “Step Brothers,” which mustered a mere $9,000 off just 10 via Universal, clearly indicating U did not see any prospects for “Brothers” in Italy.
In Gaul, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” was the chart topper with a 30% drop-off in its second frame. This best-ever early take for a Woody Allen film in France has delighted Warner Bros. “Barcelona” has a Gallic running cume of $7.3 million on 443 — up 31 prints from opening day.
“Le Crime est notre affaire” (Crime Is our Business), helmer Pascal Thomas’ comic take on an Agatha Christie classic, had a solid opening sesh for StudioCanal, taking in $2.05 million on 330 in its first five days.
“Coluche, l’histoire d’un mec” also bowed well for local distribber Mars. The biopic of the late rebel comedian made a tad under $2 million on 481, also after five days.
Meanwhile, Ben Stiller-helmed “Tropic Thunder” had an okay, if not spectacular, bow for Paramount, taking in $1.78 million on 297.
Robert De Niro/Al Pacino starrer “Righteous Kill” has done passably well for Metropolitan, which originally had modest expectations due to some serious critical drubbing. Off 47% in its second frame, the thriller has cumed over $3.8 million on 397 to date.
In Germany, “Hellboy 2” blew “Wall-E” off the top of the charts as the comic book fantasy opened at number one.
The success of Universal’s “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” and Warner’s romantic drama “Nights in Rodanthe,” starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere, surprised local exhibs in a weekend that saw box office takings distributed far and wide.
“Hellboy” conjured up $2.03 million from 494, closely followed by “The Baader-Meinhof Complex” with $1.98 million and a running total of $17.3 million.
“Nights in Rodanthe” opened in third, garnering $1.91 million from 382, followed by “Wall-E” with $1.8 million and an $18.3 million total.
While a number of local critics have labeled “Nights” a shameless tearjerker, Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel described it as “a love story for grownups” and praised Gere and Lane for their realistic, mature and respectable performances,” which it said have become all too rare in Hollywood films.
Rounding out the top five was Fox’s local fantasy epic “Krabat,” which took in $1.6 million in its sophomore session for a $4.2 million cume.
“What we saw this weekend was a great diversity of films in theaters and people having a lot to choose from,” noted one exhib. “There really was something for everyone.”
Indeed, the top seven films, which also included Concorde’s fantasy laffer “Die Geschichte vom Brandner Kaspar” and Tobis’ “Burn After Reading,” all surpassed the one million euro mark, a rare achievement at the German box office.
Overall, ticket sales were up more than 24%.
In Spain, 10 new titles weren’t enough for one to snatch the top spot from “Burn After Reading.”
“It was a spiritless weekend in terms of takings. A wide array of openers with no spectacular winner,” summarized a booker.
Although the Coen’s comedy slid 37% in its soph sesh, it held top honors and now has a $5 million cume, while still flaunting the best copy average with $5,258.
Among Spanish bows, Aurum’s “The Forbidden Kingdom” had the best perf placing second and nabbing $1.3 million on 329, a bit more than predicted.
Fox’s vidgame adaptation “Max Payne” got $1.1 million, a bit below prospects.
“After these so-so results, we don’t expect ‘Payne’ to be long-legged,” said an exhibber.
OnPictures’ femme-targeted “The Women” remake, starring Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes and Annette Bening, took a decent $537,000 on 166 for an O.K. average of $3,312.
As for local bows, Alta’s controversial “Camino,” about a young girl exalted as a saint by Opus Dei, took an upright $487,000 on 182 and placed honorably seventh with a $2,682 copy average
Not far behind, Filmax’s “Diary of a Sex Addict” got $455,300 on 148, marking a slightly better copy average of $3,131. It placed ninth.
In Spain “Barcelona” has totaled $9.3 million after 5 weeks via Warner Bros.
Additional reporting by David Hayhurst (France), Ed Meza (Germany) and Emilio Mayorga (Spain).