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French give in to dinomania

Despite mutterings to the contrary, the French are just as crazy about dinosaurs as the rest of the world. After a record-busting opening in France, “Jurassic Park” surged by 53% on the first day of the second week on 564 screens for a phenomenal eight-day total of $ 16.92 million.

You’d expect some uptick as the second Wednesday fell in the middle of the school vacation, but the 53% hike and cumulative 2.67 million ticket sales are impressive indeed.

“Manhattan Murder Mystery” jumped by 10% in its sophomore session in France. The “Germinal” powerhouse slipped by 24% in the fourth lap on 465 screens, lifting the admissions total to a heady 3.7 million.

Dinomania also rages across the border in Belgium, where Steven Spielberg’s epic bagged $ 2.29 million in eight days on 101 screens; it was off 14% on the second Wednesday.

The overseas gross was a towering $ 459 million, and it’s certain to surpass $ 500 million. It’s a fair bet that film rentals will finish north of $ 220 million.

“The Fugitive” vaulted to $ 127 million oversees and chalked up its latest success in Hong Kong with a splendid $ 468,500 at 11 theaters.

Continuing its winning ways, “In the Line of Fire” scored handsomely in Spain ($ 776,000 in the first weekend on 103 screens), Singapore ($ 136,000 on 12), Portugal and New Zealand. Foreign total: $ 37.7 million.

“The Firm,” with $ 58.6 million foreign B.O., finally edged past “Sliver,” which has $ 58 million. Sydney Pollack’s film had an outstanding debut in Italy, pocketing $ 1.84 million in six days on 144 prints.

Hottest ticket in Germany is Bille August’s “The House of the Spirits” (Neue Constantin), world preeming with 219 prints.

“Sleepless in Seattle” advanced to $ 33.6 million and pulled $ 146,000 in the first weekend on 44 screens in South Africa, and “Last Action Hero” climbed to $ 74.5 million.

In the U.K, “Rising Sun” plummeted by 32% in the second weekend on 242 screens after a less than stellar opening, indicating poor word of mouth.

In Australia, “Much Ado About Nothing” had a sparkling entry, averaging $ 25,712 on just seven screens. “Poetic Justice” was targeted at young females but didn’t attract many, averaging $ 3,500 on 52. Columbia TriStar plans to hitch the pic in the rest of the world to Janet Jackson’s concert tour next year.

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