European exhibs and the Walt Disney Co. were full of Christmas cheer last week as “Beauty and the Beast” and “Sister Act” filled their coffers.Adding to the festive mood, “The Last of the Mohicans” enthralled Spanish audiences and “Death Becomes Her” had a tearaway start in South Korea, South Africa and, at a slightly slower clip, Australia. In the latest wave of openings, “Sister Act” collared $ 2.3 million on 260 prints in Germany, $ 2.2 million on 216 in France, and $ 3.9 million on 303 in the U.K. and Ireland. Showing supreme confidence in its two powerhouses, Buena Vista Intl. launched “Sister Act” in Germany head-to-head against “Beauty and the Beast”; the latter posted the best opening weekend ever for a Disney animated feature there and $ 2 .6 million in seven days at 258 screens. The top 10′s receipts in Germany spurted by 43% to $ 8.3 million, but the casualty of the round was “A League of Their Own,” which, given the locals’ disinterest in baseball, looks like it’s soon destined for the dugout. The “Beast” eclipsed all previous Disney animated offerings in Spain. An equally strong draw for adults as youngsters, it nabbed $ 1.7 million at 79 sites. Spain has been a relatively weak market for animation because, some tradesters believe, the absence of mandatory censorship means kids would rather see a Schwarzenegger than “cartoons,” and there’s no early afternoon TV kids’ bloc due to the siesta. “Mohicans” scored a handsome $ 544,000 in six days on 44 prints, and distrib TriPicture is adding at least 40 screens this week, which sees the debut of “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” Against torrid competition, “Boomerang” garnered a commendable $ 616,200 in six days on 57 screens as it advanced to $ 43 million overseas. “Sister Act” helped propel the British wickets to $ 8.5 million. “Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut” set house records in London and earned tidy sums at several provincial theaters, but negligible contributions came from fellow rookies “Of Mice and Men” and “The Waterdance.” Italo wickets fell slightly to $ 4.2 million. The sole new entry, “Memoirs of an Invisible Man,” fared moderately well, given a sexy sell that was first deployed to good effect in Germany. Ticket sales in Paris improved by 11% to 601,000. “Voyage a Rome” began snappily, as did “Le Petit Prince a Dit.” But “La Fille de L’Air” was soft. In a fascinating contest in Copenhagen, “Blade Runner” debuted on two screens , beating “1492: Conquest of Paradise” on three. “Lethal Weapon 3″ had a scorching start in Hungary, clocking 84,000 admissions and $ 121,000 in the first weekend at 29. Down Under, “Sister Act” reigned in the second act on 111 screens despite a 26% decline, $ 2.8 million total. Warner Bros./Roadshow gave “Under Siege” a lavish launch, aiming to raise and broaden Steven Seagal’s market, and was rewarded with nearly $ 1 million at 75 theaters, far surpassing earlier Seagal efforts.
Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more