A combination of the Chinese New Year holidays, school vacations in Europe and hot new product sent the foreign box office skywards.
“Mrs. Doubtfire” is the standout overseas, tallying $ 81 million after massive bows in France ($ 4.9 million in eight days on 366 prints ), Belgium ($ 1.1 million in eight on 63), Hungary and Denmark. It broke 20th Century Fox records in each market.
But the Robin Williams starrer had its skirts lowered in Taiwan, beaten by “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.” The first “Sister Act” was huge in that territory, and the sequel grabbed $ 586,265 in four days on six screens. “Doubtfire” took $ 783,720 the first week on six.
‘List’ dazzles Oz
In its international debut in Australia, “Schindler’s List” averaged a dazzling $ 30,780 in seven days at 15 theaters. That’s encouraging United Intl. Pictures to go much wider than originally planned, and the pic will build to close to 60 prints.
The Oscar nominations clearly fanned the B.O. of Spielberg’s epic and “The Piano,” which soared by 57% in its 28th week in Australia for a cume of $ A9.9 million ($ 6.9 million), $ 52 million overseas.
The top 20’s receipts Down Under lifted slightly to $ 4.4 million, bolstered by a solid second week of “My Life” (off 13%) and a decent preem by “True Romance” despite its R (age 18) rating.
“Demolition Man” vaulted to $ 76 million in foreign, helped by a strapping $ 2.6 million bow on 142 screens in Japan. “A Perfect World” advanced to $ 96 million, doing brisk business in Japan, where it’s likely to wind with rentals of $ 15 million.
Southeast Asia festive
Exhibs in Southeast Asia had plenty to celebrate during the Feb. 9-13 Chinese New Year break. Three Hong Kong productions — the Jackie Chan vehicle “Drunken Master,” the Jet Li starrer “Kung Fu Cult Master” and “Treasure Hunt” with Chow Yun-fat — were the big winners.
“Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” outperformed the original debuting in Taiwan, Singapore ($ 236,000 in four days at 10 chapels), Hong Kong ($ 175,000 at five) and the Philippines ($ 313,000 at 25).
Chinese New Year was an odd time to release “Carlito’s Way,” which fared poorly at a time when auds were mostly looking for lighthearted fare; the drama was soft in Holland also.
More apt in this Year of the Dog was “Beethoven’s 2nd,” which opened well in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand but was a bit flat in Taiwan. Its foreign total climbed to $ 33.6 million.
School vacation in Britain and France had a salutary effect. In the U.K. rookies “The Three Musketeers” and “Free Willy” were crowd pleasers, and holdovers “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Wayne’s World” were fine.
Ticket sales in Paris totaled 833,000. “Doubtfire” was the only high flyer ( 241,000 admissions in Paris). “The Three Musketeers” plummeted by 45% in its second weekend.
In Germany, “Doubtfire” had a strong third on 603 prints, $ 14.8 million cume. “Free Willy” and “Cool Runnings” started brightly.
“Mrs. Doubtfire” seems a little less scintillating in Spain, where it was off 30% in the second lap on 137 screens, $ 2 million total, and Sweden with $ 770, 520 after two weeks on 82. In Spain “Mr. Jones” took a smart $ 600,000 in the first weekend on 80, “Little Buddha” moved to $ 1.63 million.
In Italy “Doubtfire” expanded from 155 to 185 screens in the second weekend and edged up by 3%, $ 6 million cume.