Europe cheers Hollywood hit parade

'Mama,' 'Panda' add to box office surge

BERLIN — Hollywood blockbusters dominated the European box office over the weekend as “Mama Mia!” and “Kung Fu Panda” opened huge in the U.K. and Spain, while “Hancock” and “Wanted” continued to enjoy strong biz in Germany and Italy.

“Mamma Mia!” sang up a storm at the Blighty box office, bringing in $13.2 million in its opening weekend via Universal. That haul comfortably trounced Will Smith’s superhero antics in “Hancock,” which slipped down to second place for a sophomore haul of $7.37 million, bringing its cume to a hefty $33.5 million so far.

Entertainment’s 3-D Brendan Fraser starrer “Journey to the Center of the Earth” bowed with a solid $1.9 million, while the other new entrant to the U.K. box office, Lionsgate’s martial arts actioner “Forbidden Kingdom,” failed to replicate the Jet Li-Jackie Chan two-hander’s opening in the U.S., bringing in a modest $1.35 million in its opening U.K. frame.

Elsewhere, Pathe’s gritty British youth drama “Adulthood” continues to perform well ahead of expectations, bringing its total cume to $6.5 million with a weekend take of $178,000.

In Germany, “The Incredible Hulk” was puny against the power of “Hancock,” which easily smashed the not so jolly green giant in his latest incarnation.

Sony’s superhero spoof reigned supreme despite dropping 42% to $7.4 million for a running cume of $24.4 million.

Overall, the German box office fell 18% from the previous week.

Showing strong and sturdy legs, Universal’s “Kung Fu Panda” saw a 1.5% boost in its sophomore frame, garnering $4.57 million on its way toward an $11.3 million total.

Opening in third with $1.2 million, Concorde’s “The Incredible Hulk” was not only far behind Marvel’s recent hit “Iron Man,” which opened with more than $3.5 million in May, but also Ang Lee’s 2003 “Hulk,” which pulled in $2.3 million on its opening weekend and went on to cume $5.8 million.

Although local exhibs weren’t expecting boffo returns from “The Incredible Hulk,” distrib Concorde may have upset a number of fans by rolling out an edited version of the pic in order to win an age-12 rating necessary to attract the tyke crowd, a strategy that may have backfired. With few cinemas across the country showing the original age-16 cut, which includes the Hulk’s final showdown with the film’s gargantuan villain in its entirety, many fans may have opted to wait for the DVD.

In Italy, Universal’s Angelina Jolie-James McAvoy actioner “Wanted” clung to the top spot despite a challenge from Warner Bros.’ spy caper “Get Smart.”

“Wanted,” however, saw ticket receipts fall 41% to $914,876 from 388 screens for a running cume of $4 million.

Mid-summer temperatures also took their toll on the Peter Segal-helmed “Get Smart.” The Steve Carell comedy opened in second but grossed an unremarkable $838,828 from 316, giving a screen average of $2,655.

Takings for low-brow local laffer “Un’Estate al Mare” (“A Summer at the Sea”) fell 43% to $787,230 toward a $6.3 million cume as more Italians opted instead for real sun, sea and sex.

New in at four, “Funny Games,” Michael Haneke’s remake of his own art-house torture drama, was helped by strong reviews. The daily La Repubblica applauded its “intelligence and ambiguity.” The Lucky Red release garnered $643,961 off 204 screens, giving it a respectable $3,157 average.

“The Incredible Hulk” slipped 33% to $313,173 from 235 screens in its fourth week for a $5.9 million box office total.

“Boogeyman 2” dropped 50% to $101,195 in its second frame, resulting in a woeful $667 average from 152 screens for the Jeff Betancourt-helmed horror sequel.

Spanish exhibbers, meanwhile, were over the moon about last weekend’s stellar box office.

UPI opener “Kung Fu Panda” triumphed, trouncing “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” down in its soph sesh by 48%, eight percentage points more than the plunge predicted by one booker last week.

“Prince Caspian” has cumed a respectable but not standout 12-day $10.4 million.

“Panda” chop-socked $6.2 million on 585 for a fine copy average of $10,513.

“The best thing about ‘Panda’ is that its pretty well got a clear road into audiences until ‘Wall-E’ opens Aug. 6,” stated another booker.

“The Top 20 pics took $13.6 million in all, more-than-double the trawl of all films in Spain a fortnight ago,” glowed a third exhibber.

Filmax opener “P.S. I Love You” placed third, grossing $931,368 on 230, and Tripictures’ bow “Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay” took $391,605 on 108, placing 8th.

Local laffer “Gente de mala calidad” got a so-so $318,177 on 111.

Among holdovers, “Sex and the City” and “The Happening” demonstrated surprising stamina with a 25% and 21% fall in their fifth and fourth frames respectively.

Notro’s “O Jerusalem” actually went up 2% in its soph sesh.

Michael Day in Italy, Emilio Mayorga in Spain and Ali Jaafar in the U.K. contributed to this report.

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