Japan, Oz high spots of overseas B.O.

Absence of hot new product before the summer avalanche had some European exhibs griping last week, unlike Japanese tradesters, who continued to dine out on “Forrest Gump” and “The Mask,” and Aussies who gorged on “Dumb and Dumber.”

March 20’s nerve gas attack in Tokyo didn’t disrupt the B.O., and cinemas were busy on the Tuesday national holiday. “Gump” soared to $16.4 million after 12 days on 167 screens. “Gump” ascended to $244.8 million overseas, also pumped up by Indonesia ($270,000 in nine days on 25) and Malaysia ($125,400 in the first week on 12).

“The Mask” actually nudged up by 5% in the fourth frame on 142, snagging $4.3 million, $18 million to date. The Jim Carrey vehicle has amassed $173.7 million abroad, and debuted in South Africa with a smokin’ $551,650 on 46.

‘Napoleon’ defeated

“Napoleon,” Aussie kidpic about the adventures of a golden retriever, released in Japan as “Kulta,” made only $758,000 in 11 days at 48 theaters. That’s a poor return for distrib Nippon Herald, which spent $1.8 million on the launch, and it poses a marketing challenge for U.S. distrib Samuel Goldwyn. It isn’t the only doggy yarn in the dog house, as Disney’s 1961 classic “101 Dalmatians” bowed with a soft $200,000 in three days on 34. However, “Dalmatians” enchanted Sweden with a splendid $340,000 in six days on 70 screens, a propitious sign as it rolls out across much of Europe this week.

Carrey’s “Dumb and Dumber” posted the seventh biggest preem ever Down Under (right behind “The Mask”) with $2.5 million on 162; the previous week it made $1 million on previews. Aussie exhibs had little else to cheer as “Color of Night” plunged by 43% in its sophomore sesh and “Legends of the Fall” didn’t live up to its early promise, off 37% in the third.

One bright spot in Europe was Italy, where biz was enlivened by freshers “Pret-a- Porter” ($1.4 million in three days on 200), “Star Trek Generations” ($852,300 in six days on 172) and foreign language Oscar nominee “Farinelli” ($410,150 in four days on 40). Robert Altman’s pic garnered major press coverage in that highly fashion-conscious market, but reviews were mixed and the second weekend will be more conclusive.

UIP trimmed the “Trek” title to “Generations,” reflecting low awareness of the TV series, and drummed up decent business everywhere except the deep south.

“Farinelli” benefited from media attention for local leads Stefano Dionisi and Enrico Lo Verso, and from being the kind of costume soap that Italos usually turn out for. Gay pic, “Men, Men, Men,” continued to shrug off poor reviews and climbed to $2.6 million through the third round.

German exhibs said it was a lousy week apart from “Stargate,” which pocketed a marvelous $8.2 million in two weeks, and “Nell.” Rookies “Rennschwein Rudi Russel” (family pic about a lovable pig, helmed by Peter Timm who was in better form on “Go Trabi Go”) and “Troublemakers” (another Terence Hill/Bud Spencer caper) were uninspiring.

French B.O. stayed in the doldrums, not helped by warm weather and a couple of Euro soccer matches involving Gallic teams. “Une Femme Francais,” Regis Warnier’s 1950s-set meller about a free-spirited woman, her husband and lover, opened well but exhibs don’t see it emulating the helmer’s previous click “Indochine.” Warner Bros.’s newie “Just Cause” was OK but no world-beater, and one programmer derided it as a cliche-ridden offering well below what he expects of a Sean Connery starrer.

It was a blah frame in the U.K. as one booker beefed, “Nothing is taking any money.” “Little Women” platformed moderately in London ahead of the March 24 national rollout, and “Immortal Beloved” had a fair start. “IQ” was a disaster, prompting the exhib to opine that Fred Schepisi’s pic “should never have been allowed to escape.” “Disclosure” had a respectable second lap, skewing female, as its foreign cume rose to $115.7million.

“Just Cause” had middling bows in Spain ($619,000 on 80 screens), Switzerland ($286,400 on 25), Denmark and Finland, but slid by 31% in the second on 20 in Korea, $1 million cume.

“Nell” is winning audiences in Latin America, nabbing $715,100 in five days on 61 in Brazil and $145,200 in six days on 15 in Argentina. Michael Apted’s film launched in Taiwan with a fine $213,750 in two days on 24, but fell by 28% in the second on 106 in Spain, $2.3 million to date. The foreign total is $38.3 million and has just overtaken domestic.

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