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French auds flock to ‘Barcelona’

‘Burn After Reading’ top opener in Spain

LONDON — A moderate overall fall frame at the European box office did feature some highlights. Most notably, Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” bowed brightly in France, the Coen Brothers’ “Burn After Reading” opened over expectations in Spain and “Wall-E” and “The Baader-Meinhof Complex” continued to show good legs in Germany.

Whammo Euro box office hit “Mamma Mia!” kept singing along nicely. It perfed particularly well in Italy where it held top spot in its soph sesh, thanks to a gritty drop-off of just 20%.

In the U.K., a quietish frame saw “The House Bunny” bound in in top spot with $1.6 million at 346 screens via Sony. Fellow opener “Mirrors” ran it a close second with $1.5 million at 342 via Fox. “City of Ember,” the other widest opener, did not heat up the U.K. box office; the family pic pulled a disappointing $873,204 at 367 for Entertainment. Modest haul put it in only sixth spot.

Overall U.K. cinema biz was hit by summery sunny weather which saw Brits looking for outdoors entertainment.

Hit of the weekend in terms of screen average was undoubtedly Naples-set Mafia pic “Gomorrah,” which did $301,104 at just 39 for a chart-topping screen average of $7,713. The Optimum Releasing release benefited from lots of positive reviews from the Brit crix. Bookers report word of mouth is excellent and it’s playing well through the week.

In Italy, “Mamma Mia!” held on to the top spot where local laffer “No Problem” come in a close second, and “Disaster Movie” bowed boffo at numero tre.

“Mamma Mia!” dropped only 20% in its soph sesh for $2 million off 399 and a $5.7 million cume to date via Universal; a nice haul in a land usually averse to musicals.

“No Problem,” starring helmer/thesp Vincenzo Salemme as a stressed-out soap star, pulled a smooth $1.9 million on 423. Distributor Medusa is boasting a personal best bow for the Neapolitan comic.

Italy’s most notable outing was lowbrow farce “Disaster Movie,” which scored $1.4 million off 234 for the frame’s highest per-screen average – $6,000 – via Eagle Pictures.

Stephen King adaptation “The Mist” instead had a so-so debut, scaring up just $771,000 from 207 via Lucky Red. “The Women” failed to bond much with Italy’s femme crowd, bowing at a mere $496,000 from 214 via BIM, despite the pull of stars Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes, and Annette Bening.

In Italy’s arthouse arena, Laurent Cantet’s Palme d’Or-winner “The Class” had a classy outing with $358,000 from 70 via Mikado. By contrast, Kathryn Bigelow’s Iraq bomb squad pic “The Hurt Locker” bombed big time with a mere $70,000 off 70 via Warner Bros.

In Germany, Marco Kreuzpaintner’s fantasy epic “Krabat” was the best performing new release, but the Fox film about a boy wizard was no match for “Wall-E” and “The Baader Meinhof Complex,” which maintained their positions at the top of the charts. The top four pics divvied up the box office pie fairly evenly, leaving no single title dominating the box office.

“Krabat” took in just north of $2 million from 359, giving it a strong $5,605 screen average, behind “The Baader Meinhof Complex,” which took in $2.42 million in its third frame on its way to a $14.9 million cume.

While praising “Krabat” as a visual delight, one local exhib said the film’s dark tone made it ill suited for tykes, which are far more intrigued by “Wall-E.” At number one for the third week running, “Wall-E” pulled in $2.44 million for a total of $16 million.

Ethan and Joel Coen’s “Burn After Reading” continued to perform impressively in its soph sesh after enjoying the best start ever for a Coen brothers film in Germany. In fourth, “Burn” garnered $1.7 million, bringing its cume to $5.8 million.

In France, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” rode generally excellent reviews to the top of the weekend box office, earning Warners $3.9 million on 412 in its first five days.

“It’s more than an excellent result. We’re expecting more than 560,000 admissions by the end of the week, and that could reach a million soon,” said Francis Boespflug, president of distribution and production at Warner Bros France. “‘Vicky Cristina’ achieved almost double the box office in its opening weekend than “Match Point’. It’s done 35% better per print than in Spain. We’re expecting it to be the best result ever for a Woody Allen film in France.”

Critical slings and arrows did little to dent the multiplex appeal of the Pacino-De Niro combo in “Righteous Kill”. Pic opened to a decent $2.2 million on 393 for Metropolitan.

Critical and commercial hit “The Class” has delighted distribber Haut et Court. “We celebrated over one million admissions yesterday, in less than three weeks,” said general manager and “Class” co-producer Carole Scotta.

Down 38% in its third frame, it’s cumed $8.7 million on 512 – a hearty 144 more prints than on opening day.

“Paris 36” has enjoyed a decent run for Pathe, but had been widely tipped to be one of the runaway hits of the fall season. Off 41% after three frames, the 1930s-set musical has cumed $7.9 million on 594.

In Spain, Universal’s “Burn After Reading” was the top opener with $2.5 million at 316 for an excellent copy average of $8,040, a bit better than expected. In contrast, Paramount’s “Eagle Eye” underperformed with a so-so $991,423. Sony’s “The House Bunny” pocketed a moderate $833,561.

Chief talking point from the weekend is the bad hometurf bows for both “Sexykiller” and “Santos,” two eagerly awaited local openers which received bullish releases (250 and 300 copies, respectively). Warner’s “Sexykiller” placed tenth with just $259,350 at a wimpy copy average of $1,090. And BVI’s “Santos” was not even in the top 20, taking less than $110,000 at a hopeless average of $365.

Booker’s explanations for the double failure are myriad: “October has been saturated with Spanish openers,” “Elsa Pataky’s (‘Santos’) beauty doesn’t match her appeal in movies” and “the majors maybe don’t manage to handle this kind of local product.”

Of the holdovers, BVI’s “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” kept its excellent rhythm, sliding only 24% in its third frame for an $8.6 million running cume. Also, Fox’s “Mirrors” slid just 24% in its soph sesh for a $3.3 million cume.

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

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