BERLIN — A slew of late-summer Hollywood openers boosted the European box office over the weekend, with “Mamma Mia!” making a splash in France, “Wanted” shooting to the top in Spain, “Hancock” flying high in Italy, and the U.K. buzzing on “Pineapple Express,” while “The Dark Knight” continued its reign in Germany.
“Mamma Mia!” had a wholesome, if hardly boffo bow for Universal in Gaul.
A take of $3.33 million on 462 in its first five days made it the 20th place for best opening week of the year.
“Mirrors,” another new release, is proving a pleasant surprise for Fox.
Horror helmer Alexandre Aja’s latest earned $1.66 million on 246.
Likewise, “Get Smart” had a solid first week for Warners in Gaul, where auds never seem to tire of Bondian spy spoofs. Its first five days made $1.43 million on 447.
Showing sprightly legs after five frames, “The Dark Knight” was down only 25% on the week for Warners. A cume of $24.5 million gives it the eighth spot among top earners in Gaul so far in 2008.
Also down by 25% in its second frame, local dramedy “Commes les Autres” (Baby Love) is a success for Mars, having cumed $2.84 million on 301 — up 50 prints from opening day.
Universal’s “Wanted” placed comfortably in the top spot in Spain, nabbing $3.4 million from 430 and establishing a nice copy-average of $7,429.
Following in second, Fox’s “The Argentine,” the first part of Steven Soderbergh’s “Che,” is showing that it’s not a one-weekend wonder, adding $1.7 million in its soph sesh for a $6 million cume.
“Spain is working as a barometer for ‘Che’s’ international performance,” noted one booker. “The question is whether you can extrapolate Spain’s results to another country — Che was a legendary hero for many youngsters during Francisco Franco’s dictatorship.”
In terms of stamina, the queen remains Universal’s “Mamma Mia!.” which in its sixth frame holds fourth place, slipping just 24% for an excellent running cume of $15.5 million and surpassing Warner’s “The Dark Knight,” which totaled $15.4 million, down 55%.
Manga’s “Spirit of the Forest” placed 10th, achieving a respectable $356,623. “There won’t be another similar product for family auds in weeks. It will have good word of mouth,” predicted another a distribber.
Surprisingly, BVI’s local thriller “King of the Hill,” a strong seller worldwide — all rights in the U.S. were picked up by the Weinstein Co. — disappointed on its home turf, managing just $155,710.
In Italy, after a long, somnolent summer, the box office finally woke up — leaping 58% compared with the previous weekend as curtains closed on the holiday season.
Will Smith comedy “Hancock” made most of the running with a whopping $7.2 million in its first frame. The meaty total came off 613 screens with an $11,813 average for Sony Pictures.
At number two, Universal’s “Kung Fu Panda” was still alive and kicking on 553 screens. The healthy $5,322 average produced $2.9 million — down 32% but enough to make the animated pic this year’s Italo box office champ with a running cume of nearly $20 million in just its third outing.
“Il Papa di Giovanna” (Giovanna’s Father), a sentimental drama by local helmer Pupi Avati, bowed at three, taking $1.3 million from 347 screens with a decent average of $3,698. Takings for Ferzan Ozpetek’s “A Perfect Day” slipped 22% in its second outing to $948,030 for a running cume of $2.8 million for 01 Distribution.
In fifth, Disney’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” fell 39% to $450,739 off 203, with the cume now at an impressive $11 million.
In contrast, there’s nothing out of this world about the returns for “X-files: I Want to Believe,” which hasn’t fared any better in Italy than it has elsewhere on the continent. Fox saw second-frame earnings fall 55% to just $355,491 from 248 screens.”
“Pineapple Express” scored a first-place finish in the U.K., with a decent $2.5 million launch, followed by “Mamma Mia!,” which continued to do sensational biz with a 25% decline to $1.9 million toward a $116 million cume.
Warner’s tough-guy drama “Rocknrolla” stayed solid in its second frame with $1.7 million for a $6 million total, while Holocaust drama “Boy in the Striped Pajamas” debuted smartly for Disney with $900,000 at 168 for the best per-location average in the top 10.
“The Dark Knight” continued to strike fear in its rivals as it cleaned up at the German box office for the fourth weekend running.
Dropping 38%, the Batman sequel nabbed $2 million on its way toward a boffo $25.2 million total.
Following in second, “Wanted” pulled in $1.7 million for a running cume of $5.7 million.
Vin Diesel managed to muscle Meryl Streep and the “Mamma Mia!” gang down a rung as sci-fi thriller “Babylon A.D.” took third place with $1.5 million from 459 via Concorde.
“Gomorrah,” Matteo Garrone’s uncompromising look at the Camorra underground in Naples, opened in eighth with $312,971 from 65 via Prokino/Fox for a decent per-location-average of $4,815.
The only other new entry to squeeze into the top 10, Sony’s “Step Brothers,” failed to tickle Teutonic moviegoers, taking only $278,541 from 100.
Additional reporting by David Hayhurst (France), Emilio Mayorga (Spain), Michael Day (Italy) and Dave McNary (U.K.).