‘Seven’ A Winner In Blah Frame

The lull in the U.S. box office spilled over into some key foreign territories last week. Different product in some cases, but the results were depressingly similar.

While Australia, Japan and the U.K. were expecting a couple of bleak weeks, other foreign exhibs probably had no need to fret, as “Apollo 13” just launched in France and Belgium, “Pocahontas” went wide in Spain, “Seven” unspooled in Korea and “Species” invaded Germany and Taiwan.

“Seven” began its foreign campaign Down Under with a record debut for an R-rated picture, hyped by co-star Morgan Freeman’s well-publicized visit. But exhibs said the rest of the market was brittle, and rookie “Something to Talk About” didn’t have much to say.

“The Madness of King George” had a solid but not majestic bow on the art circuit, while “Georgia” was a turn-off. This has been a black period for Aussie entries, as Michael Robertson’s “Back of Beyond,” Michael Rymer’s “Angel Baby” and Richard Wherrett’s “Billy’s Holiday” corpsed in successive weeks.

In the U.K., UIP gave “Jade” a lavish offshore launch after it tanked in the U.S., but couldn’t buy an audience. “A disaster,” one booker called it. Biz in Blighty tumbled by about 35% as the locals celebrated Guy Fawkes night on the Nov. 4-5 weekend, but the exhib fingered the “lousy product.”

“French Kiss” began OK but is skewing up-market, while “Crimson Tide” platformed robustly in London and went wide Nov. 10; its cume reached $51.5 million. “To Die For” added 12 screens but eased by 19% in its second frame, aided by good reviews. “Pocahontas” naturally plunged after the school holidays and is restricted to weekend sessions at some cinemas, ensuring it plays through Christmas.

“Weak” is how one German booker described the b.o., and he queried the wisdom of releasing “The Santa Clause” this early. The Tim Allen starrer is doing OK at matinees and getting good reaction, but is a nonevent in the evenings; one booker said it may not rally until early December. The Disney pic also had a quiet start in Tokyo with $1 million in 12 days, now on 20 screens.

“Clueless” clicked with the young set in Germany, while comedy “Stadtgesprach” had a buoyant sophomore sesh, outperforming “Assassins.”

“Showgirls” stepped out in Hong Kong for a sexy $1.2 million on 22 screens, and joint distribs Panasia/Intercontinental expect it to do about $3.5 million.

In Italy, “Something to Talk About” expanded to 40 copies after a 10-print debut for a perky $734,000. “Die Hard With a Vengeance” garnered a moderate $4.6 million after 19 days, while “Showgirls” widened to 132 screens in its second frame for a lively $2.2 million.

Comedy “I No Spik Inglish” shrugged off dire reviews and drew lots of tykes, earning $2 million in 12 days. However, “Apollo 13,” which had a winning start in Sweden, hasn’t flown as high in Italy as elsewhere, taking $7.2 million in 27 days, off 38%.

French biz started the Nov. 1-7 frame on a high note with a public holiday, but ended on a downer. “Assassins” initialed brightly then faded, sandwiched between “Waterworld” in its second lap and the astronaut pic. “Mortal Kombat” tumbled nearly 50% in its sophomore sesh, hurt by “Dragonball Z, ” pic compiled from two episodes of the eponymous Japanese series aired on TFI.

However the kidpic was puzzlingly released only on UGC’s circuit, a move that a rival exhib estimated to have lopped 50% off its potential gross. Gallic click “Guardian Angels” dipped by 40% in its fourth round, $30.9 million cume, while “Nelly and Mr. Arnaud” had a steady third.

“Assassins” reached $24.6 million abroad and unwound strongly in the Philippines ($841,000 on 53), Belgium ($480,000 on 45) and Mexico ($575,000 on 151). But in Spain the Sylvester Stallone starrer made a middling $1 million in six days on 122, trailing “While You Were Sleeping” which romanced $3.1 million in 12 days on 116. After a record-breaking debut for an MGM/UA release in Spain, “Species” ebbed by 31%, devouring $2.1 million in 12 days on 122. Its 25-territory cume is $28 million. “Pocahontas” showcased at one cinema in Madrid and one in Barcelona, tallying a terrif $301,000. Horror-comedy “Day of the Beast” continued to pull young auds, building on word of mouth, while Pedro Almodovar’s “The Flower of My Secret” has plenty of stamina.

The Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle “Sudden Death” experienced predictable fall-offs in Mexico (down 35%, $1.8 million in 12 days), Brazil (off 27% for $2.6 million in 12) and Argentina (down 64%, $360,000 in 14).

“Waterworld” topped $150 million and held fairly well in its second round in France, Belgium ($1.6 million), Denmark ($770,000), Greece ($697,000) and Malaysia ($680,000).

“The Bridges of Madison County” hit $80 million, leaving domestic in the dust, driven chiefly by a hearty $27.4 million in Japan. Clint Eastwood’s pic is having a fairly charmed run in France and Germany but was lukewarm in most other places.

“Nine Months” has harvested a reasonable $25.6 million, including $4 million in 20 days in Italy; $1.7 million in 12 in Brazil.

“Cry, the Beloved Country” collected a fine $370,000 in 10 days on 43 prints in its native South Africa.

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