Lukewarm reviews and the moral qualms expressed by media pundits don’t seem to have done much harm to Warner Bros.’ “Falling Down.”

The Joel Schumacher opus took the top spot in Madrid, with a $ 100,000, eight-screen opening weekend. In the country as a whole, it took $ 685,000 from 110 situations. In Australia, it went straight to No. 1 with a hefty per-screen average of $ 8,711, displacing UIP’s “Indecent Proposal.”

It moved up from No. 2 to No. 1 in its second week in Italy (where it also replaced “Indecent Proposal”) and was prevented from capturing the top spot in France, where it had a massive opening, by the exceptionally strong performance of Cannes winner “The Piano.” Latter pic is proving a Gallic phenomenon, with 110,000 entries in Paris alone and vibrant word of mouth as it goes wide across the country.

The strong showing of “Falling Down” in Spain lifted an otherwise torpid B.O. Indeed, high-profile press coverage and good reviews helped the pic gross more in Madrid last week than all the other releases combined.

“Mad Dog and Glory” opened in Italy last week for a modest $ 137,000 from 51 screens. But “Falling Down,””Indecent Proposal” and “The Piano” are still taking good money. Similarly, in Spain, “Damage,””The Crying Game” and “Like Water For Chocolate” are holding steady.

In France, Kenneth Branagh’s “Much Ado About Nothing” opened well in Paris, with 55,000 admissions at 18 screens, but captured only 34,000 more from 31 other screens nationally.

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