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Italo B.O. wakes up ‘Dumber’

The reawakening of the Italian box office for the fall season was just the tip of the iceberg in a week where actioners and romantic comedies vied for supremacy in Europe and Asia.

Italy emerged from its summer slumber to be assaulted by New Line’s “Dumb and Dumber” (foreign cume $102.9 million) at top spot and Meg Ryan starrer “French Kiss,” having romanced its way across Europe during the week (cume is now $14.8 million).

CTSI’s “Bad Boys” burst in at fourth spot, while UIP’s “Village of the Damned” opened ninth in Italy – better than Australia where it plummeted by 66% in its second bow and out of the top 10. Italy’s lemon of the week was Paramount’s “Tommy Boy,” which netted a mere $72,248 from 79 prints.

In a week of bows and blustery weather in Spain, box office takings rose 50% with CTSI’s “First Knight” clinging to top spot above fellow second lapster “French Kiss,” which grew on good word-of-mouth, while “Congo” (foreign cume: $45 million) went ape in its third spot bow ahead of “Judge Dredd,” which burst into the fourth spot. Spanish/Cuban comedy “Guantanamera” did excellent biz after glowing reviews.

In Germany, box office receipts were bloated by a busy slate, which will only get more congested this week. Strong earners such as “While You Were Sleeping,” “Judge Dredd” (foreign cume: $16.4 million), “Don Juan De Marco,” “Casper” (foreign cume: $131.9 million) and “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” coupled with fine debuts by “French Kiss” and German fantasy-comedy “Nur uber meine Lieche” are causing scheduling headaches. This week brings “First Knight,” “Under Siege 2” and “Forget Paris.” Distribs believe the two francophile debutantes are likely to suffer the most, partly because “Kiss’ ” Ryan is better known than “Paris’ ” Debra Winger.

The French were less robust, with BVI’s “Crimson Tide” taking $320,000 from 353 screens (cume is $22.8 million) in a generally slow week. The French lethargy is evidenced by “Judge Dredd’s” near $2 million drop, owing to bombings in Paris, bad weather and kids returning to school. Nevertheless, “French Kiss” and “La Ceremonie” both opened strongly.

But BVI was thrilled with the top spot U.K. bow of “While You Were Sleeping” (foreign tally is $47.8 million). While also reigning supreme in Germany, the Italians weren’t feeling so romantic toward Sandra Bullock, who is not well known – or maybe the box office there was still recovering from its summer snooze.

Also in Europe, “Braveheart” speared $412,358 from 55 Swedish screens, which combined with good bows in Finland and the Czech and Slovak republics, bolstered the cume to $30.2 million ahead of its U.K. preem.

On the other side of the world, South Koreans went overboard for UIP’s “Waterworld,” flooding theaters and setting records in the process. The Kevin Costner starrer nabbed $1.5 million from 32 screens, buoying the cume to $45.7 million.

Cake ‘Walk’

In a busy South Korean weekend, Keanu Reeves starrer “A Walk in the Clouds” surprised Fox execs by rising 17% in its fourth week on eight South Korean screens to take $137,082, floating the cume to $9.8 million. Stablemate “Nine Months” also charmed South Korea, taking $206,283 from an eight-print bow, while the Hugh Grant vehicle held strong in its second Singaporean lap and previewed so promisingly Down Under it found itself at fourth spot; cume is $734,106.

UIP’s “Apollo 13” went into orbit Down Under, blasting off at top spot.

It also scorched Singapore for a screen average of $46,498, rocketed to the top in Mexico and raked in $450,829 from its 37-screen Thailand bow to take the 10-market tally to $40.3 million.

Also in Australia, BVI’s “Pocahontas” rose 18% in its second lap – after a good but not stunning preem- thanks in part to the first rain in a 48-day drought, which sent families running for cover to the multiplexes; foreign cume is now $44.5 million.

The rain, however, did not help local cross-dressing comedy “All Men Are Liars” in its second lap, which fell 41% and out of the top 10, but “Six Degrees of Separation” bowed well at No. 6.

Not a drag

Oz drag comedy “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” is playing strongly to a mainly young female audience on five Japanese screens for a 16-day cume of $436,339 and recorded an 18% rise in its third weekend. Foreign cume is $26.7 million.

Also in Asia, New Line’s “Don Juan De Marco” lukewarmly romanced the Philippines, luring $18,000 from 12 prints; cume is now $26.1 million.

In Hong Kong, “Waterworld” clung to the second spot, “Under Siege 2” to seventh and “First Knight” to eighth in their second laps. In Taipei, “Apollo 13” took the No. 1 spot, just ahead of “Under Siege 2,” while Fox’s “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the Movie” kicked in at eighth.

Not dying hard

Bruce Willis juggernaut “Die Hard With a Vengeance” continues to wow Japan, France and the U.K. for a staggering foreign tally of $219.6 million with Fox contributing $73.5 million from Japan, BVI $113.1 million and independents the rest.

New Line’s “The Mask” screamed its way to the double blockbuster mark with a cume of $199.2 million. Warner Bros.’ “Free Willy 2” flounced in with a cume of $13.9 million, while stablemate “Batman Forever” powered on to a foreign tally of $134.7 million.

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