O’seas B.O. shimmers in August heat

August may be a down month at the domestic B.O., but most foreign markets are on the upswing, driven by a slew of U.S. summer blockbusters.

Some of the pace-setters, like “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” which has hauled in $162 million abroad, have eclipsed their U.S. results, and others are good bets to do so. “Batman Forever” has minted $106.2 million, and “Casper” has topped $92 million.

The Batpic ranks as the fifth Warner Bros, release to surpass $100 million overseas this year, following “Disclosure” ($129 million), “Interview With the Vampire” ($115 million), “Outbreak” and “The Specialist” (both $113 million) – a record no other studio has matched.

On the heels of “Waterworld’s” U.S. bow, the Kevin Costner starrer had a buoyant foreign debut in Japan, bottling $5.6 million in five days on 134 screens. Costner blitzed the Japanese media in a two-day visit, and UIP tweaked the domestic campaign by augmenting Costner’s face with a submerged Statue of Liberty. Tradesters say publicity about the budget and production travails wasn’t a turn-off, instead piquing curiosity, and the pic is clicking with folks under 25. If it can connect with older auds and hold during the summer vacation, $50 million B.O. looks achievable.

The Universal epic finally dethroned the “Die Hard” sequel, which fell 25% in the sixth round, making $3.5 million on 139 for a stupendous $54.2 million cume.

The consistent “Apollo 13” slipped just 18%, totaling $13.6 million in 19 days on 121, and blasted off in Korea with $800,000 in five days on 22 and in New Zealand with $284,000 in six on six.

“Casper” and “Pocahontas” are drawing families and kids in Japan but not the vital young-female demo. “Casper” fell 27%, tallying $5.8 million in 12 days on 132, while the Disney pic has taken $5.6 million in 16 days.

The native princess charmed New Zealand with $251,000 in six days on 28, and ascended to $32.2 million abroad, tracking 35% up on “Beauty and the Beast” but 20% behind “Aladdin.” If it winds somewhere near “Beast’s” $203.7 million, Disney should be pleased.

Roger Donaldson’s thriller “Species” began its foreign career with a socko $1.8 million on 127 screens in Australia, beating the previous best MGM/UA opening week by “A Fish Called Wanda” in 1988. “Under Siege 2” was off by a reasonable 37% in its second Down Under, while “Circle of Friends” had a steady second and rookie “Corrina, Corrina” was so-so.

“Die Hard 3” set an all-time record for a summer bow in France and nabbed $8.8 million in eight days. John McTiernan’s actioner made 36% of that in Paris, indicating it’s super-strong in the provinces. In Belgium the pic delivered $1 mil lion in six days on 53 – the second highest BVI bow ever behind “The Lion King.” The Bruce Willis starrer led the field too in Spain, climbing to $5.9 million in three weeks on 142.

“Batman Forever” had a very good debut in Germany (26% up on “Batman Returns”), and while some exhibs were slightly disappointed, they noted that seemingly half the population is away on vacation. Joel Schumachers pic also started well in Austria ($470,000 on 38), Denmark ($379,000 on 25), Portugal ($272,000 on 30) and India ($77,000, selling 206,625 tickets at 12 theaters).

“While You Were Sleeping” continued its dream run in Germany, off just 9% in its sophomore sesh. “The Lion King” made history in Germany by topping a record 11 million admissions in its sixth week of reissue, $62.4 million cume. Early in its run in China the animated pic has grossed $3 million, better than “Forrest Gump’s” $2 million but understandably trailing “True Lies’ ” $10.3 million.

Amid a heatwave in the U.K., “Casper” was off just 14% in its second lap, while Ealing-style comedy “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain” had a fair start, and “Free Willy 2” tanked. The whale saga looked stronger in Taiwan with $350,000 in five days on 28.

“Under Siege 2” hit Korea with a feisty $798,000 in five days on 25.

“Congo” continues to clock impressive openings, including $1.1 million in seven days on 24 in Singapore and $681,000 in five days on 102 in Brazil. The cume is $19.7 million in 11 markets.

“Braveheart” had respectable bows in South Africa ($167,00 in four days on 40), Chile and Uruguay and its foreign total moved up to $24 million. “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie” generally opens well but fast runs out of steam, tallying $12 million in eight markets.

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