Soccer overshadows films in Europe

'Wanted,' 'Narnia' score in U.K., France

LONDON — Cinema biz ground to a halt Sunday in Spain and Germany as their national teams duked it out in the final of the European soccer championship, but trade was solid in the U.K. and France, where assassination actioner “Wanted” and family fantasy “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” reeled ‘em in.

Disney’s “Prince Caspian” opened top in the U.K. with $8 million at 546 locations, according to Rentrak. In an upbeat weekend, Timur Bekmambetov’s high-octane actioner “Wanted” (Universal), which stars Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and fast-rising Brit thesp James McAvoy, also resonated with auds, taking $7.5 million at 412.

Bullish bows for both “Prince Caspian” and “Wanted” were especially impressive given weather was very warm on Saturday (usually bad news for the U.K. cinema trade) and the televised final of the European soccer drew big auds on Sunday evening.

The two big openers dominated trade with most holdovers suffering steep drops. But not all fare faded fast. Gritty urban teen gangsta pic “Adulthood” from writer-helmer-star Noel Clarke dipped a very respectable 46% to $1.3 million at 176 and a $7,255 screen average. Despite poor reviews from the Brit press, the Pathe release has now banked a very impressive $4.7 million in 10 days. Core aud of teens have responded to this sequel to cult homevid success “Kidulthood.” West London-set pic has also attracted other auds by capturing the zeitgeist — the problem of rising teen crime is rarely out of the U.K. news.

John Maybury’s “The Edge of Love,” which stars Keira Knightley and Sienna Miller, added 125% more locations in its second frame and netted a modest $516,765 at 177 for a $1.1 million 10-day take. Exhibs describe perf so far as “soft,” adding that arrival of Will Smith superhero actioner “Hancock” Wednesday will put further squeeze on available screens for “Love.”

In France, a two-for-one ticket scheme being offered in many locales by some bigger chains from Saturday through Monday is showing results.

“Prince Caspian” got off to a rollicking start, taking in $6.6 million on 768 in its first five days for Disney.

Local laffer “Seuls Two” also bowed with brio. The cops and robbers caper co-starring and co-scripted by Ramzy Bedia and Eric Judor boosted Warner’s coffers by $2.8 million on 549 in its first five days.

“The Happening” is showing a sprightly set of legs for Fox. Down on the week only 37% in its third frame, it’s cumed $9.1 million. Also putting in a solid perf for Fox, “Street Kings” earned $987,000 on 233.

Showing impressive stamina, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was off by just 26% on the week in its sixth frame. Paramount release has now passed $36 million in Gaul.

Even non-blockbusters have had a good recent run on Gallic screens. “Waltz with Bashir,” an animated documentary about Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, made Le Pacte $762,000 on 157 in its first five days. “The figures were really good for Wednesday and Thursday, and we see them getting better,” said Le Pacte topper Jean Labadie.

In Italy, local laffer “Un’estate al mare” (A Summer by the Sea) ousted “The Incredible Hulk” from the top spot in a soft frame dominated by en-masse beachgoing and Euro soccer.

“Estate,” packed with local TV talent and helmed by veteran Christmas comedy duo Carlo and Enrico Vanzina, can claim success as Italy’s first local summer season crowdpleaser in decades.

Still, attaining numero uno glory with a mere $2 million from 576 for “Estate” doesn’t add up to much moolah for the moment for distrib Medusa, though the lowbrow laffer is expected to have staying power. “Hulk” dropped 45% in its sophomore frame with $890,000 from 469, giving it a $4.3 million running cume for Universal in Italy.

Fox’s Keanu Reeves starrer “Street Kings” had a flat Italo outing with $341,000 off 247. Teutonic toon “Impy’s Island” took the pitiful prize as the frame’s lowest per-screen average — $351 — for $46,000 from 131 via Mediafilm.

In the arthouse arena, Nikita Mikhalov’s courtroom drama “12” bowed relatively decently with $25,718 off 15 — a $1,715 average — via 01 Distribuzione.

As widely predicted, Spanish trade took a big dent from the soccer final. The match broke all-time Spanish TV ratings records for a soccer game, with 14.5 million viewers for a 81% share, according to ratings company Sofres. “This was as expected, but the Sunday match can’t wholly explain the poor results for a three-day frame,” said an exhib.

“Yes, the match took only one day, but the soccer atmosphere in Spain since the semi-final on Thursday has been a kind of orgy,” commented another booker.

As a result of football frenzy, all openers performed below expectations. UPI’s counterprogrammer “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” was best placed in fifth position with $602,999.

On Pictures’ “Rivales” took a meager $308,006 off a wide 243. Versus’ “Los Cronocrimenes” (Timecrimes) took an unsatisfactory $112,256 off 77.

Despite dropping 46%, Sony’s “Hulk” placed first in its soph sesh for a moderate $1.2 million off 534 toward a $4.6 million cume.

Hopes for a Spanish box-office recovery lie largely with BVI’s “Prince Caspian,” which bows on Wednesday on 625. Predecessor “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” cumed a splendid $29.6 million in Spain in 2005.

Germany’s cinema biz was also hit hard by the Euro soccer final, which left theaters across the country largely empty as the box office remained at rock bottom.

Indeed, having already plunged dramatically since the start of the soccer tournament, overall figures slipped only 1.5% from the previous week. With no major openers last week, “Sex and the City” and “Crystal Skull” remained at the top of the charts, with only “Sex” surpassing the $1 million mark over the weekend — although just barely.

Pic pulled in $1.1 million in its fifth frame for a $22.5 million cume, followed by “Crystal Skull,” which whipped up $858,697 in its sixth session toward a $27.7 million total.

Among the new openers, Universal’s monster plant pic “Ruins” shriveled at number eight with $209,517 from 78, followed by Senator’s teen thriller “All the Boys Love Mandy Lane,” which didn’t find much love at all, managing to scare up just $156,242 from 89. Rounding out the top 10 was Central’s “Charlie Bartlett” with $131,792 from 63.

Additional reporting by Ed Meza (Germany), Emilio Mayorga (Spain), Nick Vivarelli (Italy) and David Hayhurst (France).

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