Bond seduces o’seas B.O. with ‘Quantum’

Latest 007 movie breaks U.K. record

James Bond has made Harry Potter disappear.

The latest Bond installment “Quantum of Solace grossed a socko $24.4 million from 1,150 runs in its opening in the U.K. over the Oct. 31-Nov. 2 weekend, breaking the record launch of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” and claiming a staggering 70% of the market.

The Sony and MGM pic also made the history books in France and Sweden. The $10.6 million Gallic launch was the best ever for a Bond title. In Sweden, the Daniel Craig starrer grossed $2.7 million, the fourth best bow ever in that territory.

Combined with its launch in France and Sweden, Sony and MGM’s “Quantum” ended the frame with a gross of $39 million from a total 2,123 playdates two weeks before its North American bow. That put the film at the top of the international box office chart.

In the U.K., “Solace’s” boffo performance was powered by advance ticket sales and buzz from the Oct. 29 world premiere in London. “Solace” got off to a lightening start on Friday, collecting a whammo $8 million, the biggest opening day ever and 20% ahead of “Goblet of Fire.”

Heading into the weekend, bookers predicted that “Quantum” would open to roughly $21 million. Part of the reason it might have done better is the weekend’s persistently rainy weather.

Reviews were mixed in the U.K., so Sony will be looking for good word-of-mouth.

French critics were kinder, with both crix and auds won over by the somber Bond fashioned by director Marc Forster.

Coming in No. 2 for the weekend at the international box office was Disney sensation “High School Musical 3: Senior Year.” The Disney pic grossed $29.2 million from 3,805 in 32 markets, pushing its foreign cume to a weighty $90.2 million. Combined with a domestic cume of $62 million, the film’s worldwide total is $152.2 million.

“HSM3” dominated cinema trade in other key Euro markets, opening tops in Italy at a stellar $5.1 million and holding pole position in Germany and Spain. The film also has done well in France, which has been a tricky market in the past for tuners.

It was a good weekend for Hollywood. DreamWorks Animation and Paramount sequel “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa” turned golden it its first launches, grossing $18.1 million at 635 in Russia and the Ukraine. The film scored the best-ever openings in both territories. The toon opened in North America on Nov. 7, and will wait until later in the month to unspool in other major foreign markets.

The European heat of the frame was Gallic laffer “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis” (Welcome to the Sticks,) which enjoyed strong openings in Germany and Italy. The film was a blockbuster in France earlier this year, but fell flat in the U.K. Positive response in German and Italy was welcomed.

“It’s a great lighthearted comedy, and German audiences can really relate to regional differences — Berliners, Bavarians, Saxons and northern Germans all make fun of each other in similar fashion,” notes one exhib.

“Les Ch’tis” grossed $1.3 million from 160 in Germany, giving it an impressive per-location average of $7,789. In Italy, the comedy got a warm welcome, with $1.3 million from 325.

More serious fare didn’t do so well.

Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush biopic “W.” opened to a muted $750,000 at 200 in France, its first major foreign market.

Early results for Warner Bros.’ CIA thriller “Body of Lies” also are only so-so. “Body of Lies” opened to $10.8 million in 10 markets, mostly from Australia and South Korea.

Archie Thomas in the U.K., Ed Meza in Germany, Emilio Mayorga in Spain, Nick Vivarelli in Italy and David Hayhurst in France contributed to this report.

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