Foul weather across parts of Europe – including the first snowfalls in Paris in six years – and the end of school vacation depressed cinema takings last week.
That slowed “The Lion King” in most places but its overseas cume ascended to $385.3 million through Jan. 12; it should hit $400 million within a couple of weeks.
German auds braved the elements to turn out for “Disclosure,” which was hyped more as sexy entertainment than a polemic on sexual harassment. The payoff was a hot $4.4 million on 381 prints – the second-highest preem ever for Warner Bros, after “The Bodyguard.” “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” had a fairly good bow in Germany despite a hostile reception from the critics.
There’s no stopping the mercurial “Speed” in Japan, which hurtled through its sixth lap on 126 screens, becoming Fox’s second-highest grosser ever behind “The Return of the Jedi.” With $40.5 million B.O. in the till there, the actioner looks to have enough gas to wind with at least $30 million in rentals. Foreign total: $178.4 million.
New Line’s crowd pleaser, “The Mask,” topped $115 million overseas. The Jim Carrey vehicle climbed to $5.3 million through the fourth weekend in Italy, now on 111 screens, and to $2.8 million after two weeks on 115 in Brazil. Stablemate “Dumb and Dumber” scored a smart $237,220 in six days on 13 in Hong Kong and collected $1 million apiece in Singapore and Korea after three weeks.
“Lion King” had the expected post-holiday low in France, off 52% in its eighth round, $54.5 million to date, but still ranks at No. 2 behind Gallic hit “Un Indien dans la Ville.” BVI said “Lion King” is now the highest earning non-French pic ever in that market, beating “Jurassic Park.”
The Disney phenom actually improved by 9% in the seventh weekend in Italy, $29.6 million to date, and fell by 20% in the eighth in Germany, $49.2 million total. The dropoff in the eighth in Spain was 34%, $22.1 million cume.
In France, rookie “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” played well in Paris and the larger cities but struggled in the sticks – the usual pattern. “Sirens” tried to hook audiences with posters of Hugh Grant, billing this pic as his “Last Temptation after ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral,’ ” but they didn’t bite. “Terminal Velocity” didn’t have much of a sheen either.
The Gaumont chain finished 1994 off 6% in admissions, a good result after a socko 1993, the year of superhit “Les Visiteurs.”
“Sirens” stirred more interest in Italy, helped by a publicity visit by Elle Macpherson, averaging $13,386 on 19 screens. In rousing Italo trading over the Epiphany holiday weekend, “SPQR: 2.000 1/2 Years Ago,” the gross-out ancient Rome gagfest, led the field, collaring nearly $15 million after the fourth frame. Through 10 weeks, the Roberto Benigni comedy “The Monster” has amassed a fabulous $32.5 million.
In summery Australia, biz was buoyant as “Drop Zone” pleasantly surprised exhibs with a sturdy $1.1 million on 65 screens. One booker said UIP picked a good date as the market was ready for an actioner after the glut of holiday fare.
The Wesley Snipes starrer jolted “Interview With the Vampire,” which tumbled by 40% in its third week, $5.3 million cume. To no one’s surprise, “The Pagemaster” bowed soft while “Highlander 3: The Sorcerer” started OK. “Richie Rich” had a steady third, banking $2.9 million to date. Critical acclaim and word of mouth propelled “Quiz Show” in its second lap, $521,500 total. “Street Fighter” came out punching Jan. 12 with a feisty $254,100 on 87 screens: Columbia TriStar’s biggest first-day take since “Cliffhanger.”
Attesting to the health of the Aussie market, gross receipts surged by 19% last year to $A445 million ($342 million) from $A372 million in 1993 – the seventh consecutive rise.
“Pulp Fiction” may be too strong for some tastes, but the gangster pic has gunned down $54 million thus far, with Spain and Latin America to come. France is at $13.5 million, followed by the U.K. at $12.4 million and Japan with $8.5 million.
Neil Jordan’s “Vampire” flew to $71 million and snared a terrific $2.6 million on 22 screens in Korea and $472,000 on 50 in Thailand after two weeks.
“Timecop,” “Stargate” and local thriller “Shallow Grave” injected sorely needed fresh blood into the British B.O., while “Wes Craven’s New Nightmare” was more likely to give its distrib bad dreams. “The Specialist” was knocked around a bit by Jean-Claude Van Damme’s arrival but had a fairly robust second. “Timecop” has taken more than $42 million overseas; as one British exhib noted, Van Damme has broken out of his narrow mold.