Stallone, Gere pix flex star muscle

A general sense of drift continued at cinemas across much of Europe and Asia last week, leavened by the star power of Richard Gere in France and Sylvester Stallone in Spain and Italy.

Contributing to exhibs’ woes, “Heaven and Earth” bombed in the U.K., Australia, France and Holland. “Who cares?” said one British booker, theorizing why audiences didn’t respond to Oliver Stone’s tubthumping visit.

“The Good Son” expired in France and “Son-in-Law” was disowned in Britain.

Asian cinemas are marking time until the Chinese New Year festivities starting Feb. 9 usher in a host of U.S and Chinese entries.

“Mrs. Doubtfire” had a rollicking start in South Korea, notching $ 174,750 in four days at five theaters, and “Tombstone” drew reasonably large posses of Western fans in the U.K. and Australia.

The Stallone vehicle “Demolition Man” nabbed $ 1.7 million on 118 prints in Spain and $ 1.5 million on 143 in Italy, both in six days. Tally in Spain was the fourth highest bow behind “Jurassic Park,””Batman” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” according to Warner Bros. Intl. The actioner steamed into New Zealand as Stallone’s biggest preem.

“Mr. Jones” had a swell bow in France. Topliner Gere’s visit garnered lots of TV exposure and critics treated this as an important film. The romance had a terrific second round in Italy, posting the highest per-screen average in the market, $ 1 million cume.

Gallic exhibs say it’s been a slow start to the year, with ticket sales each week down on 1993. But they were heartened by “Kika’s” lusty preem and are hoping it will have the same long legs as Pedro Almodovar’s previous click, “High Heels.”

In Germany, grosses edged up slightly as “Striking Distance” had an OK bow. But “Undercover Blues” stiffed and “Addams Family Values” slumped by a worrying 31% in its second; exhibsrecall the original didn’t fly there. “Menace II Society” had an uneventful preem: It didn’t attract the gangs that marred the French bow, or indeed many non-gang-affiliated people.

There was a flurry of debate in Italy over “The Program” after distrib Lucky Red opted to go with an uncut version. The ratings board deemed it unsuitable to children under 14. Distrib resisted pressure from a group of child psychiatrists to delete the infamous lying-on-the-highway scene that was blamed for the deaths of four teens in the U.S.

Australian receipts slipped by 12.5% to $ 8 million, despite “Tombstone’s” beefy $ 8,351 average on 67 screens and a solid sixth lap (off 19%) by “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Robin Williams’ romp hit $ 13.1 million, surpassing “Star Wars” as the biggest Fox film ever in Oz. “The Beverly Hillbillies” dropped 28% in the second week. Freshman “Fatal Instinct” proved deadly.

Biz was soft in Britain, said one exhib, although he noted “Remains of the Day” rolled out on 83 screens with good results. In the art circuit, “Manhattan Murder Mystery” brought out Woody Allen fans, while “Bhaji on the Beach” did nicely and “The Hour of the Pig” was middling.

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