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Action pix overtake o’seas B.O.

Lousy weather, the June 5 holiday in some territories and an injection of fresh product boosted ailing European cinemas last week, while “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” “Braveheart” and “Crimson Tide” did smash business in other parts of the world.

“Casper,” too, looks to be joining the winners’ list overseas after conjuring up a record $148,000 in previews in four days on 21 screens in Singapore, before the June 8 launch.

That bodes especially well since the “Casper” comics are unknown in Singapore, and the pic was competing with freshers “Crimson Tide” ($227,000 in five days on 15, third-highest bow by a BVI live-action pic, behind “Terminal Velocity” and “Sister Act 2”) and “Braveheart” ($312,600 in six days on 16, including previews). “Casper” faces its first major tests later this month in Australia, Brazil and Mexico

“Braveheart” galloped into Australia with $1.5 million on 150 screens – the fourth largest preem ever for a Fox release behind “Speed,” “Alien3” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” and its biggest non-holiday bow. Playing on more sessions, the “Die Hard” sequel scored $1.6 million in the second round on 155, a reasonable 32% drop from its huge opening, $4 million cume.

Aussie exhibs were expecting a giant three-day holiday weekend after “Crimson Tide” set sail June 8 with an excellent $122,500 on 147 screens.

“Braveheart” rode into Malaysia with a lively $193,300 in six days on 20. John McTiernan’s “Die Hard” posted a three-day industry record in Brazil, garnering $1.5 million on 131 screens, and initialed in Argentina with $440,000 in five days on 20. In its sophomore session on 172 in Mexico, it fell just 23%, $1.2 million cume, clocking 700,000 admissions.

German receipts rocketed by about 80%, fueled by “Bad Boys'” lusty start in a market that hasn’t been receptive to actioners. Another Miami saga, “Miami Rhapsody” hit a very flat note. “Priest” garnered favorable reviews and good money and it clicked with the student crowd in its second lap.

“Bad Boys” also debuted brightly in Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, the Philippines and Korea and, most impressively, in Thailand, where it set an all-time opening record for Columbia TriStar, beating “Last Action Hero,” with $216,000 on 32 screens.

Italian biz improved by 22% – from pitiful to merely poor – during the Festa del Cinema half-price ticket promotion. “The Quick and the Dead” (retitled “Ready to Die”) topped the chart in its foreign preem with $545,000 on 139 screens.

It was probably more fun in Italy seeing how other new films were remonikered -“The Night of the Truth” for “Mother’s Boys”; “Anatomy Lessons” for “Milk Money”; “Cowgirls: The New Sex” instead of “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” – than watching them.

French exhibs raved about the debut of “La Haine” (The Hate), Mathieu Kassovitz’s youth pic.

Spanish B.O. was uninspired by the lack of major new releases, although “Rob Roy” slipped by just 6% in its sophomore session on 102 screens, for a pleasing $1 million after 13 days. Among the other holdovers, good reviews and word of mouth aided “Kiss of Death,” while “The Road to Wellville” is faring well in Barcelona. Distribs are looking for a big upturn when the holiday season starts June 23.

“Rob Roy” advanced to $15.3 million from 32 territories, and had a solid second weekend wide in the U.K. (off 22%), Italy is one of its better results with $910,000 in 20 days.

After a quiet debut in Japan, “A Walk in the Clouds” made some amends with a firm second weekend on 117, off 14%, $2.4 million cume.

In China, some 4.5 million people have flocked to “True Lies,” ponying up more than $6 million B.O. BVI is poised to ink its first revenue-sharing distrib deal in China which would see “The Lion King” released at the end of July. “Forrest Gump” has just opened in Beijing, and it will be fascinating to see how much that adds to the phenom $339.3 million foreign cume.

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