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‘Quiz’ Shows Spotty B.O. Overseas

“Quiz Show” poses the question: “Can a critically praised drama, steeped in Americana, which wasn’t a worldbeater at home, play broadly overseas?” Robert Redford’s pic got widely varying answers when it unspooled in 14 territories last week.

Overall, “Quiz Show” is skewing female and drawing reasonably strongly in big cities, but flunking out in the provinces. Spain delivered the best per-screen average, notching $368,000 in six days at 31 theaters.

Launched in Germany after the Berlin fest, Redford’s film was a crowd pleaser at cinemas in big cities like Cologne, but weak in small towns. “The subject is too American for German audiences,” opined one exhib, adding that Redford as director counts for much less than Redford as star. In France, one booker said “Quiz Show” opened well in Paris but struggled in the sticks.

Positive reviews and copious media coverage didn’t pay off in Italy, despite lots of interest in a local quiz show scandal. Tradesters say films that appear even slightly downbeat or cynical are out of favor; witness the fates of “Natural Born Killers” and Gianni Amelio’s “Lamerica.” Another somber entry, “The Shawshank Redemption,” has taken a so-so $175,500 in 10 days at 10 theaters.

But there don’t seem to be any cultural barriers for “Nell,” which enchanted Italy, or “Stargate,” which blitzed Australia.

“Nell” was the big winner in Italy, nabbing $550,000 in its first three days on 57 screens by performing evenly across urban and rural areas. Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway” scored $944,500 in the first five days on 186 screens: OK, but not as strong as the sparkling reviews and Oscar noms might have portended in a market that adores the Woodman.

“Stargate” levitated to $57 million overseas, fueled by a fabulous $2.2 million debut on 125 screens Down Under. In their second rounds, “Nell” eased by 22% but “Pret-a-Porter” tumbled by 41%, reflecting the volatility of t he multiplex business and probably poor word-of-mouth.

In its foreign debut, “Legends of the Fall” unspooled in Israel with a fine $91,600 weekend at nine theaters, a good omen ahead of its release next month in Australia and Spain.

“Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” fell by 11% in its second weekend in Japan, advancing to $5.4 million, and in the second in Italy dropped by an acceptable 18%, $2.4 million cume. Distrib Columbia TriStar is shooting for a foreign total of at least $80 million.

After a mammoth opening in the U.K., “Star Trek Generations” dipped by about 45% in the second weekend, but rallied mid-week during school vacation for $7.6 million in 13 days. “Leon” (“The Professional” in the U.S.) had a strong second in wide release, but the live-action “Jungle Book” bowed tamely.

In Germany, the latest “Trek” saga widened from 402 to 518 prints, tallying $8 million, and “Richie Rich” had a steady second, $3.6 million to date.

But exhibs reported a soft start by “Nich’ mit Leo” (Not With Leo), in which popular comedian Jurgen von der Lippe plays triplets: a brothel owner, a priest and a French Foreign Legionnaire. Lippe went on a TV talkshow to claim the film is a critique of celibacy for Catholic priests, but the public isn’t buying it.

The French market stayed on a high, as Gallic romantic comedy “Gazon Maudit” romped through its second week, “Disclosure” had a good second, and “Stargate” and “Elisa” posted solid third rounds. The phenom “Un Indien dans la Ville” has sold 5 million tickets in 10 weeks ($37.6 million B.O.) and is on course to do 7 million.

Universal lost the battle with “The War” domestically, but in its first foreign campaign in Taiwan, the Kevin Costner vehicle took an encouraging $325,000 in five days on 30 screens. But suspend judgment on the outcome there until after the second weekend.

“Terminal Velocity” continues to please in the action markets, giving Buena Vista Intl. its second biggest preem ever in Thailand (after “Lion King”) with $280,000 in six days on 33. Foreign total: $27 mil.

In a generally perky trading session, “The Lion King” added another $4.6 million to its coffers, for $425 million cume, and “Speed” finally hit $200 million (propelled by an awesome $61.3 mil in Japan). The Keanu Reeves starrer looks set to overtake Fox Intl.’s record holder “Mrs. Doubtfire,” which wound with $210.3 million.

“Speed’s” tallies include $20 million in Germany, $17.3 million in the U.K., $13.3 million in France and $13 mil in Australia.

“Forrest Gump” surged to $216 million, “The Mask” bounded along to $147.3 million, “Interview With the Vampire” topped $112 million, “Disclosure” vaulted to $82 million, “Junior” climbed to $64.5 million and “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” reached $50.5 million.

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