LONDON — Box office sensation “Mamma Mia!” opened strongly in Italy and held resolutely elsewhere at the European box office this weekend.
Local pics fared best in France, where chart-topper “The Class” is performing above pre-release expectations.
In Italy, latecomer “Mamma Mia!” had a mother of all bows in Italy, where the Meryl Streep musical became the country’s top-opening musical movie ever, in a land where tuners rarely click.
Universal’s $2.5 million first-frame Italian take for “Mamma” may not seem molto, but it is way higher than “Chicago,” which debuted at $1.7 million, than “Hairspray,” which opened at $1.3 million, and “Moulin Rouge,” which bowed at $1 million in Italo hardtops.
The other standout debut at the Italo box office is “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” which pulled a solid $1.3 million off 221 for Sony.
Spike Lee’s “Miracle at St. Anna” failed to win over Italo auds, opening at a mere $580,000 from 263 via co-producer RAI Cinema’s 01 Distribuzione, after sparking protests over its depiction of Italian history.
Italy’s two other new titles, also had lackluster launches. Argentine toon “El Arka,” bowed at just $520,000 from 233 via Eagle Pictures, while Alejandre Aja chiller “Mirrors,” toplining Kiefer Sutherland, scared up a modest $300,000 off 185 via Fox.
Simon Pegg laffer “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” — a Stateside flop — got off to only a reasonable start in Blighty. Pic opened top in Blighty with a modest $2 million at 451 screens via Paramount. In a quiet overall frame, “Alienate People” edged out Liam Neeson starrer “Taken,” which held very well in its soph sesh. The abduction thriller dipped only 6% to $1.9 million at 398 and a handy $5.5 million running cume for Fox.
Once again showing the best traction in the U.K. was “Mamma Mia!” The feelgood tuner leapt up 27% in its 13th frame and has now banked an incredible $112.8 million at U.K. wickets. Also continuing to hold very well is “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (Disney), which saw an 8% uptick in its fourth frame to push the cume to $4.9 million.
U.K. hit of the week in terms of screen average was Momentum Pictures release “Fly Me to the Moon 3D.” Released only in 3-D, the family film netted an impressive $548,565 at 73 screens, including three Imax sites. The $7,517 average was a top 10 best. “We are over the moon with this result,” commented Sam Nichols of Momentum. “We have a proven track record when it comes to opening independent family films but 3-D was a new experience for us. Exciting times are ahead in this new market so it’s great to have a foothold so early on.”
Literary adaptation “Brideshead Revisited” (Disney) did not click with Brit auds. The Ben Whishaw starrer collected just $659,616 at 256 in its lackluster bow. Poor reviews from local crix didn’t help.
In France, local features rule at the box office. “The Class” — France’s first Palme d’Or winner in 21 years and its hope for best foreign picture at the Oscars — was top for a pleasantly surprised Haut et Court. Off 15% in its second frame, the low-budget docu-drama about a highschool teacher and his students in one of Paris’ more down-at-heel neighborhoods has cumed $6.5 million. It has been especially well received in and around Gaul’s capital.
“Go Fast,” a gritty cops and robbers caper with Roschdy Zem and Olivier Gourmet going undercover to bust some seriously hardcore drug smugglers, made EuropaCorp a decent $2.5 million on 286 in its first five days. Down 24% in its second frame, big-budgeted historical musical “Faubourg 36” (Paris 36) has met, if not surpassed, Pathe’s expectations with a cume of $6.1 million on 594.
“Cliente” (Client), a far more downbeat affair toplining Nathalie Baye as a woman relying on the kindness of hired male strangers, took in over $1.9 million on 367 for Gaumont after five days.
“Mamma Mia!” is proving itself a dark horse winner for Universal — doubly so since most musicals underperform in Gaul compared with other European markets. Off only 16% after four frames, it’s cumed more than $10 million.
In Germany, bad weather made for a good weekend at the box office tills. “Wall-E” (Disney) and “The Baader Meinhof Complex” (Constantin) both showed an increase in business and held on to their top two spots. Kidpic leapt 18% to $5.8 million from 729 screens for a whopping $12.4 million cume, while the terrorist drama extorted $4.8 million from 594 locations, up 10% for a hefty haul of $11 million.
As predicted, the Coen Bros. comedy, “Burn After Reading” opened strongly in third, with $3.2 million from only 307 screens, at a zippy per screen average of $10,480.
Overall, Teuton admissions were up 44% from the previous frame as the dominant top three movies combined for close to 70% of the weekend’s take.
As elsewhere in Europe, long-legged “Mamma Mia!” rose in Germany. It was up 35% in its 12th frame for a total of $33.4 million.
Fox showed circumspection by opening the badly reviewed Til Schweiger actioner “Far Cry” at only 200 screens. The video game based film made a lame $408,676 for ninth spot.
In Spain, holocaust drama “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” (BVI) slid just 25% and held top spot with $3.3 million. Exhibs partly attribute success to aud’s appetite for more serious fare after the deluge of lightweight summer popcorn movies.
Sony’s “Righteous Kill” placed second with $1.6 million on 315. “I had my doubts after their recent movies but result shows the Pacino-De Niro combo still has some appeal to Spaniards,” said an exhib.
Local bows didn’t generate much excitement. Alta’s “Sangre de mayo” from Jose Luis Garci (“To Begin Again”) took just $370,748.
Additional reporting by Andrew Horn (Germany), Emilio Mayorga (Spain), Nick Vivarelli (Italy) and David Hayhurst (France).