'The Trip to Italy' serves it up in strong limited opening

'The Trip to Italy' opens to more than $71,000 on three screens, for an average of almost $24,000

In a limited opening, "The Trip to Italy," starring comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, brought in a strong per-screen average of almost $24,000 for a three-screen total of more than $71,000.

The film is a follow-up to the 2011 film "The Trip," which opened on six screens for just under $78,000.

Whereas the previous film found Coogan and Brydon playing characterizations of themselves as they toured the U.K., the new film has them traveling throughout Italy sampling fine restaurants and scenic locations.

The film makes them out to be first-rate dining companions, such as when they imagine an amusing conversation between actors Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in character from "The Dark Knight Rises." They visit literary spots related to Byron and Shelley while also grappling with various midlife crises. 

Anyone who gets a kick out of the dynamic between Coogan and Brydon in the two "Trip" films would be well advised to seek out Winterbottom's 2005 adaptation of "Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story," which also finds them playing themselves and playfully bickering with each other. 

When the trio of Winterbottom, Coogan and Brydon sat down for an interview at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, they rhapsodized about the food they ate while in Italy.

Winterbottom noted that while he had personally eaten at the restaurants in advance as research, during production, "the crew and me are filming while they're eating and then we're scavenging for leftovers."

Brydon joked, "Once we've finished a scene, they all descend like vultures."

Winterbottom spent even more time in the country after completing "The Trip to Italy," also shooting "The Face of an Angel," based on the Amanda Knox murder case and scheduled to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Enjoying strong reviews as well as its healthy opening, "The Trip To Italy" has a way of sneaking up on viewers, with a subtle emotional power in the performances that catches people off-guard amid the emphasis on food and scenery.

"Because Michael has done all the research, found the best places, it's like going on a VIP odyssey," Coogan said. "This is the best restaurant, this is the best view, go there, eat there and look at that view. It's like an assault on the senses in every way, you're gorging on aesthetic things and visceral things all the time."

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