‘List’ wows in Aussie bow

In trying times, audiences need a laugh, and they’re getting plenty from “Mrs. Doubtfire,””Wayne’s World 2” and several other comedies.

For more serious tastes, “Schindler’s List” launched overseas in Australia with an impressive $ 53,460 on Friday, opening day at 15 theaters. UIP garnered enormous publicity from visiting actor Ben Kingsley, the book’s Sydney-based author Thomas Keneally, and interviews with Aussie Holocaust survivors.

L’homme ‘Demolition’

Action fans turned out for “Demolition Man” in France ($ 3.6 million from 380 screens) and Taiwan ($ 847,000 from 20) as its foreign cume vaulted to $ 67 million. Warner Bros.’ other powerhouse, “A Perfect World,” ascended to $ 93 million.

“The Pelican Brief” had an auspicious start to its overseas campaign in Singapore, drawing 40,500 patrons and $ 151,600 at 11 theaters: easily No. 1 in the market.

However, Italy was the scene of “Heaven and Earth’s” latest disaster; “Mr. Jones” didn’t arouse much sympathy in South Africa; and “Cool Runnings” cut little ice in Korea after tough sledding in Olympics host nation Norway.

“Mrs. Doubtfire” raced to $ 57 million overseas, paced by huge preems in Italy ($ 2.9 million on 155 prints, the second highest opening ever after “Jurassic Park,” per 20th Century Fox), Spain ($ 1 million on 137), Switzerland ($ 1 million on 66, an all-time Fox record), Sweden and several other markets. All are six-day figures.

France was the brightest B.O. beacon in Europe as the annual ticket discount promotion for all 6 p.m. shows saw admissions in Paris soar to 900,000 last week.

Exhibs were pleased with rookies “Demolition Man,” Gallic comedy “Nine Months” and French psycho-drama “When I Was 5 Years Old I Killed Myself.””La Vengeance d’une blonde,” laffer toplining “Les Visiteurs” star Christian Clavier , had a fine second outing but exhibs doubt it will come anywhere near the “Visiteurs” phenomenon.

Freshman “The Three Musketeers” looked respectable only because it drew young audiences at the weekend and the 6 p.m. sessions, so expect a fast fade; its overseas cume is $ 21.5 million.

Australian B.O. was off by 25% despite breezy starts by “Warlock 2: The Armageddon” and””My Life.”

After five weeks in eastern states, “Shadowlands” rolled out in the rest of Australia and averaged a strapping $ 14,455 on 15 screens. “Farewell My Concubine” clicked with the art market, averaging $ 28,472 at three cinemas.

In Germany, “Doubtfire” showed strong legs for a cume of $ 10.8 million as some cinemas reported the second weekend was up on the first. Woody Allen’s sizable fan club greeted “Manhattan Murder Mystery.”

‘Wayne’ sequel schwings

“Wayne’s World 2” bounced into Britain about 17% up on the original. Comedy was overrun by an avalanche of product in Australia in December, so it clearly benefits from a less competitive environment. In the U.K. it followed “Mrs. Doubtfire,” which had a massive second week, off just 6%, totaling $ 11.6 million in 13 days.

Italo grosses lifted 25%, thanks to “Doubtfire” and other rookies including Tinto Brasso’s erotic “The Voyeur” and Franco Zeffirelli’s “Storia di un Capinera.”

“Free Willy” debuted nicely in Norway and Denmark and its overseas cume stood at $ 17 million. It missed in Hong Kong and Taiwan but racked up its best result so far in Mexico with $ 2.9 million.

“Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit” looks like taking off in Mexico after grabbing $ 400,000 in the first weekend on 70 screens.

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