Willis goes ‘Distance’; ‘Mrs.’ burns

“Striking Distance” charged into French and Australian waters at full throttle last week while “Addams Family Values” was good value in Germany and Italy.

“The Beverly Hillbillies” arrived Down Under with a healthy $ 9,307 average on 104 screens and fared best in Queensland, the heart of redneck Australia.

But “The Good Son” is destined for a short reign in Spain after a weak weekend bow, making $ 360,770 on 81 screens.

“Aladdin” took a post-vacation tumble but advanced to $ 250 million overseas, while “Beethoven’s 2nd” has collected $ 26.5 million from eight territories, “A Perfect World” has $ 71.6 million and “Addams Family Values”$ 45 million.

Exhibs in some major markets were making rueful comparisons with the same week last year, when the B.O. was a lot perkier.

One French booker said ticket sales were down by about 17% on the same period in 1993 when “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” had a huge opening.

The potent start by “Striking Distance” mystified some exhibs who were unmoved by Bruce Willis’ exertions. More predictable were “Menace II Society’s” rapid second-week descent, and “Short Cuts’ ” impressive second lap in France and Germany.

Deluge of pix

Distribs flooded the Gallic market, releasing no fewer than 16 titles, mostly arthouse fare. Most did no more than ordinary biz. “Smoking”/”No Smoking,” Alain Resnais’ pair of films based on Alan Ayckbourn’s plays (and an October Films pickup Stateside), continued to delight auds through the fifth week at seven theaters.

Lethargic British B.O. could not be roused as rookie “Undercover Blues” stayed largely undercover. One booker says there is plenty of “worthy” product like “The Age of Innocence” and “Philadelphia” upcoming but no megapix apart from “Mrs. Doubtfire” on Jan. 28.

Australian cinemas are raking in big bucks from superhits “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Striking Distance,” and solid earners “Sister Act 2,””Beethoven’s 2nd” and “Free Willy.” Receipts last week totaled $ 9.2 million — 20% ahead of last year when “The Bodyguard” set a national opening record.

In their sophomore sessions “Hard Target” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” both took a big hit, diving 44% and 45%. Mel Brooks’ spoof missed in Mexico, taking only $ 243,000 in the first weekend on 60 screens.

‘Doubtfire’ soars

The meteoric “Mrs. Doubtfire” swept to $ 3.85 million at 97 theaters in Brazil and to $ 1.63 million at 56 in South Africa, both through the fourth weekend.

Spanish receipts drifted down as the Christmas holdovers ran out of steam. One title that isn’t flagging is “House of the Spirits,” still a crowd pleaser after four weeks. It wasn’t a happy week for Spanish cinema as Manuel Esteban’s “Historias de la Puta Mili” had a middling debut and Garcia Sanchez’ “Tirano Banderas” (Banderas the Tyrant) and Juanma Bajo Ulloa’s “La Madre Muerta” (The Dead Mother) both stiffed.

Italo grosses went into a tailspin, although the “Addams Family” sequel opened at about the same level as the original and “Mr. Jones” averaged a fine $ 18,400 in its weekend bow at just 12 theaters.

German B.O. slid by about 18%, despite “Addams Family Values”‘ preem and a strong second turn by “A Perfect World,” which has totaled $ 6.1 million.

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