Nearly 250,000 Germans flocked to see “1492: Conquest of Paradise” last week, while Italians gave it the cold shoulder. So much for the notion of homogenized European taste.Even within markets, there are pronounced regional variations. In Germany, Ridley Scott’s pic scored well in the cities but was relatively weak in small towns. Concorde launched “1492″ on 213 prints for a seven-day gross of $ 1.77 million; with hindsight, distrib now believes 150 copies, concentrated initially in urban areas, would have been preferable. Conversely, in France “1492″ is playing better in the provinces, and Paris figures were starting to slip as it entered the second week. With pic widening from 264 to 383 screens, the nine-day total was a handsome $ 5 million. In Italy, the pic scraped up $ 261,800 in the first three days on 33 screens. “A fiasco,” said one exhib, noting the figures in Genoa (Columbus’ birthplace) were among the worst in the country. Italo audiences apparently weren’t interested in the topic, or perhaps one of their ancestors being played by a Frenchman touched a nationalistic nerve. Belgium is a bright beacon for “1492″–with an 11-day total of $ 442,870 on 36 screens–as is Spain, where it broadened from 55 to 85 screens in the second lap, $ 2.5 million so far. In Britain, where the Columbus epic opens this week, “Beauty and the Beast” was a smash in its first week of nationwide release, bagging $ 3.07 million on 336 screens. It’s running at double the rate of “The Little Mermaid,” and looks set to climb to the stratosphere this week as the half-term school vacation starts in England. Aussie click “Strictly Ballroom” did the quick step onto 23 screens in London and key cities for a smart $ 217,270. Reviews were glowing (“the sunniest, smiliest, feel-good film of the year,” waxed one). West End audiences unusually offered applause for the pic, and the omens are good as it gradually rolls out next month. “White Men Can’t Jump” had a boisterous second week, although exhibs say it’s shaping as a weekend event, meaning it’s mostly drawing youngsters. The pre-Christmas turkeys in Britain last week were “Thunderheart” and “Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.” The latter is the only fruit from Paramount’s European production program. (Par sold foreign rights to Odyssey.) French biz was boosted by two new local entries, “Max and Jeremy” and “Sexes Faibles.” The Italo B.O. slid by 15% to $ 7.4 million, principally because “Basic Instinct” has started to cool after five torrid weeks and $ 24.4 million in the till. “Patriot Games” charged to $ 45.5 million overseas, propelled by second weeks in Italy and Spain, and a fine fourth in the U.K. The San Sebastian fest proved a poor launch pad for “Bitter Moon,” which barely got off the ground in Spain. “Basic Instinct” scorches still after amassing $ 20.2 million in nine weeks in Spain. In Japan, “A League of Their Own” dropped 32% in the second weekend on 117 screens, $ 1.5 million total; mark that as a downer for Columbia TriStar. “Lethal Weapon 3″ had a gritty third weekend on 166 screens, $ 6.3 million so far. “Honeymoon in Vegas” was slow in Oz, averaging $ 3,344 on 67 screens.
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