LONDON — With “Max Payne” only opening in one major Euro territory (Spain) day-and-date this weekend, expansions including “Eagle Eye” (U.K.) and “Wall-E” (Italy) are likely to dominate at the box office.
“Camino” and “Diary of a Sex Addict”, two hyped local pics open in Spain hoping to buck the recent trend of local films failing on home turf there.
In the U.K., “Eagle Eye” (Paramount) and “Burn After Reading” (Universal) are the two most noteworthy openers. Other nationwide releases include “The Rocker” (Fox) and “Igor” (Momentum). After last weekend’s modest selection of bows, there is room for this weekend’s newbies to flourish, especially if the weather is poor.
The Coen Brothers have a loyal fanbase in Blighty and the commercial prospects for “Burn After Reading,” which is out on a bullish 400, are further enhanced by the cast of Brad Pitt and George Clooney – a sure hit with female demos. Reviews have been mostly mixed with some pros.
Shia LaBoeuf starrer “Eagle Eye” has received a big promo push from Par, who saddle it up on 362. LaBoeuf topliner “Transformers” was a big hit in Blighty last year so there’s little problem with awareness around the young Yank thesp. “Eye” has been largely panned by the Brit crix. “Tony Scott was doing this sort of cyber-conspiracy stuff 10 years ago, and it wasn’t much cop even then,” sniped the Independent.
Unlike LaBoeuf, “The Rocker” topliner Rainn Wilson is virtually unknown in Blighty but the homevid success of “School of Rock,” another U.S. comedy about the recuperative power of rock, gives it some hope. Reviews have been mixed. “Here is a high-concept comedy, indebted to Jack Black’s ‘School of Rock,’ which looked promising. Somehow, though, there weren’t as many funny lines as there should have been,” concluded the Guardian.
Family pic “Igor” goes into the weekend with $1 million already in the bank after a week on release in Scotland (to chime with Scotland’s out-of-synch half-term hols).
In Italy, “Wall-E” finally rolls out with a rather clear field, given that the Disney-Pixar tentpole’s main competitor is “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” which will appeal to a mostly different demographic.
“Wall-E” is going out on a massive 650 screens via Buena Vista International amid muscular marketing and rave reviews. “Pixar has hit the bull’s eye once again,” said Corriere della Sera.
Woody Allen’s “Barcelona” opens on 390 via Medusa, also with solid prospects given Italians are among Allen’s biggest fans. La Repubblica said the love triangle pic shows a “new sensibility” for Allen.
The sparse Italo frame’s other outings are scribe Alessandro Baricco’s Beethoven-themed directorial debut “Lesson 21,” out on 48 via 01 Distribuzione, and Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly laffer “Step Brothers,” out on just 10 via Sony.
In Spain, 10 openers arrive but bookers are not expecting massive box office fireworks as the weather is forecast to be nice and there are lots of important televised soccer matches taking place.
The widest bow is Rob Minkoff’s “The Forbidden Kingdom,” which opens on 329 via Aurum. Pic is dividing industryites. “I do not expect the excellent performance abroad will repeat here,” said one booker. “Jackie Chan has loyal followers here, as everywhere,” pointed out a second booker.
John Moore’s vidgame adaptation “Max Payne” goes out on 300 via Fox. Reviewers have been dismissive of the Mark Wahlberg crime actioner. “Irritating, deplorable action movie,” said La Vanguardia.
Bookers expect “‘Payne” and “Kingdom” to pull around $1.2 million each.
Local fare has not been clicking with auds of late in Spain but hopes are high that two new local releases – Alta’s “Camino” and Filmax’s “Diary of a Sex Addict” – can buck the trend.
“Camino” opens on 180 and turns on the real story of a dying 12 year-old girl, exalted as a saint by Opus Dei. Some exhibs feel the controversial subject matter guarantees it decent ticket sales. “It could post the best copy-average of the weekend,” predicted a booker.
“Diary,” opening at 148, is also generating controversy after director Christian Molina complained about censorship after some companies refused to show the movie’s ads.
With no standout titles hitting theaters this week, “Wall-E” and “The Baader Meinhof Complex” look set to continue their reign at the German box office.
Universal’s “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” may attract plenty of fanboys, but local exhibs are not expecting a boffo performance – its 2004 forerunner made an unremarkable $2.3 million total in Germany, reflecting the general disdain among local auds for comicbook adaptations (with some exceptions, most notably Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight”).
Local releases include Concorde’s fantasy laffer “Die Geschichte vom Brandner Kaspar,” about an old man who seeks to cheat Death; Emily Atef’s drama about postnatal depression, “Das Fremde in mir” (The Stranger in Me), which swept the top awards at last month’s Oldenburg Film Festival and goes out via Ventura; tyke-aimed animated pic “Der Mondbaer – Das grosse Abenteuer” (Universum/Disney) and Jobst Oetzmann’s coming-of-age drama “Zweier ohne” (Stardust). Also hitting theaters is Warner Bros.’ “Nights in Rodanthe,” starring Diane Lane and Richard Gere.
In France, “Coluche l’histoire d’un mec” took top spot on a Wednesday of mostly midrange bows. The big buzz biopic of one of France’s best loved anti-establishment comics and failed presidential candidate earned Mars $410,435 on 481. Local crix heaped praise on Francois-Xavier Demaison’s portrayal of the taboo-breaking entertainer. He “manages to make you forget, with an extraordinary dexterity, that he is not the real Coluche,” said Elle.
Laffer “Le Crime est notre affaire” (Crime is our Business) – helmer Pascal Thomas’s addition to a seemingly endless series of Gallic retoolings of Agatha Christie classics – made StudioCanal $334,015 on 330.
“Tropic Thunder” looks likely to fall short of enjoying the box office success in Gaul it’s found in other European markets, despite mainly positive ink. A first-day take of $265,100 on 297 for Paramount is a pretty paltry perf for a picture toplining the perennially popular Ben Stiller.
Universal’s “Death Race” managed just $95,760 on 151. Perhaps predictably, the crits were under-awed, with Le Parisien claiming Jason Statham was as “expressive as a boiled squid.”
Additional reporting by David Hayhurst (France), Ed Meza (Germany), Emilio Mayorga (Spain) and Nick Vivarelli (Italy).