With dinosaurs trampling Arnold at home, the clash of the summer titans is shifting to a new killing field. Both Universal’s “Jurassic Park” and Columbia’s “Last Action Hero” are set to open in major markets overseas during the next two months, and the distribs are bracing for fresh battle.Foreign exhibitors are on pins and needles, and not just because of all the heat and hype (positive and otherwise) surrounding the pix. The larger issue is how the near-simultaneous release of films both at home and overseas will affect foreign B.O. For Universal and its foreign distrib, United Intl. Pictures, the goal for “Jurassic” is a lofty one: Rake in more dino-dough overseas than any film in history — well over $ 300 million gross. At Columbia, exex are determined to make up in foreign for their Schwarzenegger pic’s anemic U.S. bow. Hollywood is fast abandoning the traditional intermission between U.S. and foreign debuts, in favor of day-and-date releases of big movies. That’s because studios want to cash in fast on the hype generated Stateside for a huge hit like “Jurassic.” On the other hand, a quick release leaves little time for spin control on pix recently drubbed by American critics. Unfazed by “Last Action Hero’s” U.S. opening, Columbia’s foreign arm is sticking firmly to the release strategies, print runs and ad budgets planned months ago. Some Columbia TriStar Intl. exex believe “Last Action Hero” has a shot at a foreign gross of $ 125 million to $ 150 million. That would eclipse the U.S. total, now projected to finish somewhere between $ 50 million and $ 60 million. The company line on “Action Hero” from senior VP of marketing Duncan Clark is , “We’re full steam ahead. We see no change, and we’re very confident.” Clark was speaking June 25 during a worldwide staffers’ convention in Seville, Spain. Said his colleague, exec VP Tony Manne, “We will go as wide as we planned originally — not as wide at ‘Terminator 2′ but similar to ‘Dracula’ and ‘Hook.’ ” That means “Action Hero” will build to a total of about 2,750 prints. Cloistered in Seville, the Col TriStar team has been largely insulated from European exhibs’ feedback to the “Action Hero” numbers — and some of it wasn’t positive. “You have to be a bit nervous after the U.S. opening,” said Jose Batlle, chief exec of Spain’s largest circuit, Cinesa, where the film is slated for an Aug. 20 bow. “I’m worried,” acknowledged Francis Boespflug, booking chief of the Gaumont loop in France, who was looking to “Hero” as his only major release in August. The Gaumont exex are due to see “Action Hero” this week; last week Boespflug’s colleague Stefane Parthenay said he didn’t know how it would fare in France. “We’re not as confident as we were,” said Torben Scholler of German exhib Hans-Joachim Flebbe Filmtheater. Scholler hasn’t seen the pic and shies away from predicting how it will perform in Germany, where it bows Oct. 7. Still, many exhibs expect “Action Hero” to deliver muscular numbers, counting on Arnie’s as-yet undiminished drawing power oversaes and the comfortable gap in every foreign market between it and “Jurassic Park.” They believe Columbia’s film suffered in the U.S. in the slipstream of Spielberg’s smash. The July 30 launch in the U.K., two weeks after the dinosaur pic, is an ideal date, according to Stan Fishman, Rank Odeon director of booking and marketing. Fishman doesn’t regard a $ 15.3 million opening weekend in the U.S. as a disappointment. “As an exhibitor, I would not mind 20 films a year that had $ 15 million openings.” He’s sure it will benefit from the two-week interval after “Jurassic Park,” reasoning that millions of people will see the trailer when they watch the Universal film, and by the time “Action Hero” arrives, audiences will be ready for a new picture. Meanwhile, foreign exhibs are delirious about “Jurassic Park’s” monster bow domestically. Preparing to launch Steven Spielberg’s opus in Brazil this past Friday and in Japan, South Korea and the U.K. in mid-July, United Intl. Pictures is shooting high — to surpass all-time B.O. champ “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial,” which amassed $ 132 million in rentals overseas. Some tradesters believe even that figure may be conservative, especially if the dinosaur epic catches fire in Japan, where rentals of $ 60 million may not be farfetched. “We’re looking at a mega-blockbuster,” said Hy Smith, UIP senior VP of worldwide marketing. Advance ticket sales in the key cities have already topped 20,000, he said.
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