‘Green Card’ Aces In First Week

In a fairly dull trading week blighted by lack of new product and severe cold and heavy snow blanketing much of Europe, the few bright spots included the socko preem of “Green Card” in sunny Australia and the sustained performance of “Home Alone.”

Down Under, Peter Weir’s pic romanced $1,135 million in the first week at 78 screens for a per-screen average of $14,561 – the third-best opening ever for distrib Roadshow after “Batman” and “Lethal Weapon 2.” Reviews were glowing, and topliner Gerard Depardieu had gotten plenty of favorable exposure when he visited before Christmas to tubthump his previous picture, “Cyrano de Bergerac.”

Numbers for “Green Card” were even more meritorious given the inevitable post-vacation B.O. slump: The top 20 titles grossed about $4.4 million, down 37% from the previous week.

Overseas gross for “Home Alone” spiraled to $82.6 million, and it’s especially strong in Germany ($15 million in three weeks), Italy ($4.6 million in three), Spain ($7.6 million in three), Britain ($14.3 million in nine) and Australia ($9.4 million in eight).

“Ghost” climbed to $217.6 million last week and claimed three records on the way: Par’s highest-grossing title ever in Australia, all-time B.O. champ in Britain, and No. 1 foreign film in history in Taiwan. UA’s “Rocky V” progressed to $67.4 million, but it was off 40% in its second week in Britain.

The debut of Universal’s “Kindergarten Cop” collared $3.98 million on 235 prints in Britain; it was not so hot in London where dreadful weather depressed attendance, but splendid in provincial cities. Ivan Reitman’s pic opened with a sharp $253,000 on 30 prints in Sweden, and $400,000 in eight days on 50 screens in Belgium.

Russell Mulcahy’s expensive “Highlander II: The Quickening” began its foreign campaign in feisty form in Germany. Distrib Highlight reported a four-day haul of some $2 million at 254 prints. And in Paris, its first-day take was an impressive $212,000 on 47 screens. Pic was financed and produced without a U.S. sale; whether that proves brave or foolish remains to be seen.

German B.O. showed signs of returning to normal last week after a pronounced downturn blamed on increasing concern about the Persian Gulf war.

Unseasonal cold and lure of the tv set kept many Italians at home, but enough turned out to boost the top 10 titles’ gross in key cities to $6.2 million, a modest lift from the previous frame’s $5.6 million.

But it was a chilly, blah week in Paris. WB was disappointed with the lackluster preem of expensive (about $18 million) French pic “Le Brasier,” the more so since the distrib bought all international rights. Critics did not warm to Eric Barbier’s first pic, about racial tension between Polish immigrants and the locals in a mining community in the 1930s, nor did audiences. It looks like a tough sell for WB elsewhere.

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