LONDON — Disney’s day-and-date release “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” hits all the big Euro territories bar Italy this weekend and is expected to sing up socko biz.
“HSM” has already made a big impression in Euro music and TV arenas, and bigscreen success should follow. A multi-stop premiere promo tour across Europe spearheaded by Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens means no self-respecting teen or tween doesn’t know “HSM3” is hitting theaters this weekend.
In the U.K., “HSM3” goes into the weekend with $3.8 million already safely stowed in the locker thanks to very strong Wednesday and Thursday previews, which were fuelled by whammo advance ticket sales.
Partly boosted by the Orange Wednesdays regular cinema ticket promotion, opening day Wednesday figures were particularly impressive: $2.5 million. Bookers expect Disney’s live-action musical to do a further $11 million Friday-Monday toward a $15 million opening five-day haul.
Given that next week is a school vacation, “HSM3” looks set for a socko opening full week.
“HSM3” is nailed on to open top, with “Saw V” (Lionsgate U.K.) heavily tipped to open in second. The bloodthirsty horror franchise has a loyal homevid following in Blighty and bookers are expecting an opening close to $4 million.
Ricky Gervais topliner “Ghost Town” gets a bullish release from Paramount (341) but isn’t overly exciting bookers, who predict a $1.5 million bow.
Pic has not been a big advance ticket seller but is boosted by the hometurf popularity of Gervais and by his sterling promotional work here.
The pic’s ghostly theme should appeal to schoolkids looking for some pre-Halloween frights.
Of the holdovers, whammo box office phenomenon “Mamma Mia!” is expected to hold well as are Naples-set mob pic “Gomorrah” and the Coen Brothers’ “Burn After Reading.”
“Gomorrah” is showing great traction at upmarket wickets thanks to strong word of mouth.
In Germany, another sliced and diced box office pie looks certain with a slew of new openers, including “Pineapple Express,” “HSM3” and local mountain-climbing adventure “Nordwand” (North Face) vying for auds.
Comedy-loving Teutons look likely to toke heartily on stoner comedy “Pineapple,” while stellar reviews could help “North Face” climb the charts.
Set in 1936, Philipp Stoelzl’s fact-based pic, going out via Majestic, traces the efforts of two friends to ascend the north face of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps.
“A film that takes your breath away,” wrote daily broadsheet Bild, while Munich newspaper Abendzeitung praised the pic’s “terrific climbing scenes and mountain shots.”
Also making waves is Constantin’s “Anonyma” (A Woman in Berlin), Max Faerberboeck’s postwar drama about the plight of a German woman trying to survive under Russian occupation.
Less clear is the box office potential of “HSM3” — the Disney franchise has not enjoyed the massive popularity and recognition in Germany that it has Stateside and, like most musicals (with the exception of “Mamma Mia!”), faces an uphill battle in Germany. Nevertheless, the pic is expected to attract plenty of kids.
Also opening this week is Fernando Meirelles’ “Blindness,” going out via Kinowelt, and NFP’s “La Boheme,” Robert Dornhelm’s adaptation of Giacomo Puccini’s opera.
In France, two wildly different pics bowed strongly on Wednesday. “HSM3” made Disney $902,600 on 391. The good result, combined with the recent success of “Mamma Mia!” puts paid to the notion that Hollywood musicals have limited appeal in Gaul compared with some other foreign markets.
“Mesrine: L’instinct de mort” (Public Enemy Number One, Part 1), the first instalment of helmer Jean-Francois Richet’s two-part biopic on one of Gaul’s most notorious bank robbers, kidnappers and killers, bowed at $779,360 for Pathe on 487. Most crix were floored by the lead perf of Vincent Cassel (“La Haine”) as Jacques Mesrine, who became a bete noire media darling in French leftie circles in the 1970s.
Le Monde called the film a “brilliant stylistic exercise that has the intelligence to emphasize … the bitterness of a man who, in an era that lacked grandeur, throws himself into criminal action the way other people drown themselves.”
Part two bows Nov. 19.
“Space Chimps” pleased SND with a bow of $293,580 on 572. “We’re looking forward to the start of the school holidays today, which will last for two weeks, especially since it’s the only cartoon movie for children on the market right now,” said SND sales administrator Henry Hamelle.
In Spain, local exhibs expect “HSM3” — out on 402 via BVI — to open to a boffo $4 million. “It’s a social and generational phenomenon,” said a booker. “It’s eagerly awaited, and the strong marketing campaign will make it the hit of the season,” assured another booker.
George Wolfe’s “Nights in Rodanthe” bows on 225 via Warners. Bookers predict a decent bow and a screen average of roughly $4,500, pointing out that Richard Gere still has considerable appeal among Spanish female auds.
Universal’s “Rated R” opens on a robust 200. The local pic turns on Spain’s distinctive and prolific softcore porn production during the 1970s.
“The campaign attracted a lot of attention. Audiences will have a new morsel of eroticism,” said a booker, referring to the previous weekend’s release, “Diary of a Sex Addict.”
Other openers are Marco Schnabel’s “The Love Guru” (Paramount), Juan Carlos Tabio’s “El Cuerno de la abundancia” (Golem), Daniel Burman’s “The Empty Nest” (Wanda) and Andres Linares’ “La Vida en rojo” (Sagrera).
In Italy, the most notable release comes from Universal, which is sending out Ben Stiller’s tongue-in-cheek war movie “Tropic Thunder” on 300. The starry satire has marshaled some good reviews. “Hilarious,” declared La Stampa. That was the last laugh the critics had this week, though.
Local teen sex and drugs drama “Albakiara” went down less well. But distributor Mikado hopes the Italo media’s current fixation with “il degrado” (urban decay) will help drum up interest for the Stefano Salvati-helmed picture.
Medusa is sending out Vin Diesel sci-fi actioner “Babylon AD” on a considerable 255, but not even appearances by perennial Euro arthouse favorites Charlotte Rampling and Gerard Depardieu were enough to get the critics excited.
Maria Sole Tognazzi-helmed drama “L’uomo Che Ama” (The Man She Loves), which stars Monica Bellucci, bows on 187, boosted by the buzz it got from opening the Rome film fest.
Additional reporting by Ed Meza (Germany) David Hayhurst (France), Emilio Mayorga (Spain) and Michael Day (Italy).