Miramax’s Oscar-winner “Mediterraneo” was the top foreign-language import of 1992, grossing $ 4.55 million since its March release. The 1991 Orion Classics release “Europa, Europa” completed a full-year run overlapping into 1992 and amassed an impressive $ 5.6 million total.

It was not a stellar year for this sector, but foreign-language films totalled more than $ 22 million in U.S. gross, up slightly over 1991. The best year in the past decade was 1990 when Miramax’s “Cinema Paradiso” grossed $ 12 million to lead such imports to $ 37 million for the year.

Plenty of B.O. life still remains in two new Gallic entries that will earn the bulk of their revenue in 1993: October Films’ “Tous les Matins du Monde” and Sony Pictures Classics’ “Indochine.””Indochine” is also representing France in the upcoming foreign-language Oscar sweepstakes while both pix received Golden Globe nominations.

The Italians are about to arrive in full force, as ’93 will feature such potent entries as Goldwyn’s “The Stolen Children” (bowing domestically Feb. 19), Fine Line’s “Volere Volare” (Jan. 22) and Miramax’s four-part film “Especially on Sunday.” Directed by Gianni Amelio, “Stolen Children” has won several international awards and is Italy’s choice for potential foreign-language Oscar nomination.

The other two Italo entries rep name directors with solid recent track records. Maurizio Nichetti directed and stars in the part-animated “Volere Volare.” His last release, “Icicle Thief,” grossed $ 1.15 million for Aries in 1990. “Cinema Paradiso” helmer Giuseppe Tornatore is one of four “Especially on Sunday” helmers.

The second-best foreign-language import of the year was also the top Chinese-language import of all time, Zhang Yimou’s “Raise the Red Lantern.” It grossed $ 2.6 million for Orion Classics, topping Zhang’s $ 1.6 million mark for his previous release from Miramax, “Ju Dou.” In 1993, his latest pic, “The Story of Qiu Je,” will be released by Sony Pictures Classics.

Same distrib is also trying to strike fire again with another successful director, Agnieszka Holland, with the February/March opening of “Olivier, Olivier.”

Capitalizing on its virtual reality subject matter, New Line’s “The Lawnmower Man” was the year’s top English-language import with a $ 32.1 million gross.

“Howards End” already has grossed nearly $ 17 million for Sony Pictures Classics, it too being an Anglo-American venture of the Ismail Merchant/ James Ivory team headquartered in New York, London and Bombay. The Patrick Swayze-starrer “City of Joy,” grossing $ 14.65 million, was structured as a British-French co-production but backed by U.S. major TriStar.

Miramax released the BBC’s “Enchanted April” domestically and already has grossed $ 11.7 million, with the film (like “Howards End”) still quite active as a potential Oscar nominee.

Holding the potential to outgross these films is Miramax’s “The Crying Game,” which amassed $ 4.4 million in its first 40 days of release but is headed for the Academy Awards derby after receiving a best pic nomination in the Golden Globes.

Taken in aggregate, the grosses of arm’s-length acquisition English-language imports add up to about $ 44 million for 1992, up slightly from the previous year. Figuring in the $ 22 million in foreign-language grosses, true imports amounted to only 1.3% of the annual $ 4.9 billion gross, a typical result over the past decade.

Upcoming releases include a pair of big-budgeters from Vision Intl.: the Canadian epic “Shadow of the Wolf,” opening Jan. 29 via Triumph Films, and the German entry “Stalingrad,” planned to bow domestically in February. Sony Pictures Classics has Wim Wenders’ multilingual (each cast member speaking primarily in his own native tongue) “Far Away, So Close,” a sequel to his $ 3.4 million Orion Classics grosser “Wings of Desire.”

October Films is readying “Un Coeur en Hiver,” from director Claude Sautet. MK2 Prods. USA has Claude Chabrol’s thriller “Betty” as well as “Red,””White” and “Blue” Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s French revolution projects.

Miramax in February has a highly commercial Aussie import, “Strictly Ballroom.”

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