‘1492’ discovering better B.O. in Europe

While “1492: Conquest of Paradise” was sinking with all hands on deck in the U.S. last week, Ridley Scott’s epic showed more buoyancy in its first foreign voyages.

On other fronts: “Beauty and the Beast” had a record-busting debut in London; “Patriot Games” struck gold in Spain and Italy; and “White Men Can’t Jump” scored convincingly in Britain and Spain.

Launched in France on Columbus Day, “1492” clocked 215,000 admissions and a $ 1.46 million gross in the first three days on 264 screens. Exhibs say the second week will be crucial in proving whether the pic has staying power.

In Spain, the Columbus pic collected a splendid $ 1 million and change in five days on 66 screens.

Why the discrepancy between initial U.S. and European results? Exhibs say topliner Gerard Depardieu and helmer Scott are icons in both Euro territories. Spanish audiences may have been swayed by critics.

Reaction in Japan was lukewarm as the pic scraped together $ 305,785 in the first two days on 14 screens in key cities. Compare that with “A League of Their Own,” which batted $ 483,330 in two days on 17 screens. That rated as good, not great, in a country with a sizable baseball following.

‘Beauty’ endures

Competition is pretty fierce in Japan, with “Beauty and the Beast” claiming top spot in its third week, grossing $ 1.5 million at 102 sites, $ 7.7 million to date. That’s the first time a Disney-animated title has held the B.O. crown.

“Lethal Weapon 3” expanded from 149 to 165 screens in the second weekend in Japan and dropped about 12%, $ 4.7 million total. It’s doing better than the predecessors, but Richard Donner’s actioner will have to go some to catch “Alien 3,” which has amassed $ 26 million.

“Beauty and the Beast” had a record-breaking three-day opening at London’s Odeon West End en route to a first-week haul of $ 62,680. It bowed too on 25 screens in Scotland, where schools have started vacation, registering $ 238,170.

“White Men Can’t Jump” bounded onto 51 courts in Britain with an athletic $ 436,540, and goes wider this week. In Spain, the six-day take was $ 478,340 on 49. Twentieth Century Fox prepared a new campaign for foreign, with good results.

The wipeout of the week in Britain was “Blue Ice,” a forlorn attempt by helmer Russell Mulcahy and Michael Caine to revive something akin to the former’s “Get Carter” persona of 20 years ago. Pic was barely respectable in the West End and a disaster everywhere else. Another casualty was “As You Like It,” Christine Edzard’s modern dress version of Shakespeare. “Carry on Columbus” played chiefly to young audiences at weekends in second lap.

Cinemas and live theaters in the capital suffered last week as the IRA renewed its bomb attacks; one distrib figured biz was 25% below potential.

Dud of the week in France was “HouseSitter,” perhaps not surprisingly as lightweight American fare often flounders there. But the comedy has acquitted itself much better in what UIP calls the “Steve Martin markets” like the U.K., Germany and Australia. “City of Joy” added 50 prints and retained top spot in France in its second week, dropping only 11% in Paris, $ 3.7 million cume. “Of Mice and Men” had a fine preem in the cities but was blah in the provinces.

“Patriot Games” pocketed $ 1.96 million on 92 screens in Spain, $ 1.38 million on 50 screens in Italy, and $ 342,600 on 15 in Israel–all superb openings. Phil Noyce’s pic still rules Britannia, slipping just 20% in the third weekend, $ 7.6 million so far, as its international cume surged to $ 39 million.

In Germany, “Boomerang” defied gravity and its record in some other markets by losing a mere 2% in the second lap on 246 prints, $ 3.9 million total. German top eased 15% to $ 8 million.

Disappearing fast over the horizon in Europe is “Unforgiven,” with a total of about $ 17 million. Warmest response has come from the U.K., but it’s been coolly received in Germany, France, Spain, Sweden and several smaller markets.

In Australia, “Single White Female” averaged a reasonable $ 6,712 in the debut on 85 screens, as the end of school vacation saw the top 20 descend by 31% to $ 3.6 million. Gillian Armstrong’s “Last Days of Chez Nous” bowed with a classy $ 15,771 average on just eight screens.

“Prelude to a Kiss” began its foreign excursion in Taiwan with a promising $ 131,950 in five days at six theaters.

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