‘Visiteurs’ French roll

Jean-Marie Poire’s “Les Visiteurs” (Gaumont/BVI) has captured the No. 1 spot in France for the last five weeks and could soon join the elite club of Gallic pix that have exceeded 1 million admissions in Paris.

Made by the same team that produced the 1991 hit “Operation Corned Beef,” it’s about a medieval knight mistakenly transported to the present. Since 1980, only 14 films have broken the million-ticket barrier. “Trois Hommes Et Un Coffin ,” which was later remade as “Three Men and a Baby,” achieved 2.1 million admissions in 1985. “Les Visiteurs” already has reached 873,000 and is building auds in the capital. Last year’s big U.S. hit, “Basic Instinct,” moved 1.2 million tickets.

Overall in Europe, the No. 1 spot went to “Under Siege,” thanks to outstanding openings in the U.K. and Germany. The WB pic took first-week totals of $ 3 million in the U.K. and $ 2.3 million in Germany, bringing its European gross to date to $ 19 million from just six territories in six weeks. Its pan-Euro screen average last week was a strong $ 6,334.

The French also took “Malcolm X” (AMLF) to their hearts. Although Spike Lee’s biopic is only on 67 screens, playing three screenings a day, it has gone straight into the top 10 with an excellent first-week per screen average of $ 12 ,856.

By contrast, the French opening of “Chaplin”(AMLF) has been poor. In its second week, the Oscar-nominated biopic fell 15%, to take an average of $ 4,235 from 121 screens. The Robert Downey-starrer has failed to light up Norway or Australia.

In Germany, “Husbands and Wives” (Col-TriStar) bounded into the top 10 on only 64 screens, maintaining Woody Allen’s strong track record in the country, which gave the downbeat opus rave reviews.

In Madrid, takings were up $ 156,000 on the previous week, largely due to the strong showing of “Honey, I Blew Up the Kid,” which occupies the top spot in its second week.

In Australia, “Lorenzo’s Oil” got a lot of coverage because of the Oz connections: writer Nick Enright and director George Miller are both from Down Under and the pic got off to a good start.

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