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‘Waterworld’ swims to top o’seas

Any doubts about Kevin Costner’s firepower overseas are being blown away by “Waterworld,” which has soared to $65.5 million B.O. in 12 markets, fueled by muscular bows in Italy, Spain, Australia, Argentina and Israel.

The only minor hitch for “Waterworld” thus far was the U.K., where it was clobbered in its second frame by “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” then rallied and in six weeks has grossed more than $12.5 million.

However, some other marquee names are having a bumpy ride. Fox example, Clint Eastwood’s “The Bridges of Madison County” had a dazzling preem in Japan, notching $4 million in six days on 112 prints, but struggled in the U.K. One British booker opined Warner Bros, opened the pic far too wide (220 screens), and that co-star Meryl Streep can be problematic in that market. The Warner pic was dwarfed by “Braveheart’s” strapping second week (off just 11%), and Mel Gibson’s costumer rode on to $39.2 million overseas.

In Japan, Sylvester Stallone couldn’t deliver more than an ordinary debut for “Judge Dredd,” and Jim Carrey’s clout didn’t carry “Dumb and Dumber” to great heights. While a public holiday Sept. 15 got the frame off to a good start, biz suffered the following day as a typhoon buffeted parts of the country, including Tokyo. Both titles are on limited screens (“Dredd” on 60, making $1.4 million in six days, “D& D” on just 25, for $716,000), so the true test comes with their national rollout.

One Japanese tradester says “Judge” is being viewed more as a rehash of “RoboCop” than a typical Stallone vehicle; nevertheless, the actioner has topped $54 million offshore. The “Die Hard” sequel has amassed $77 million in 12 weeks for Fox in Japan (foreign cume: $238 million, making it the No. 1 in the international market, according to BVI), “Waterworld” has bagged $32.3 million in seven weeks and “Apollo 13” has $30 million in nine.

In Germany, it was a case of forget Paris, hello Meg Ryan as her romance “French Kiss” initialed lustily. “Forget Paris” dropped from sight after three weeks as one exhib noted topliner Billy Crystal is always tough to sell. “First Knight” had a gallant second outing to $42.7 million overseas, leaving domestic in the dust.

Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman in “Crimson Tide” gave Buena Vista Intl. its biggest preem ever in Hong Kong, bagging $521,000 at 14 theaters. That was beaten by “Apollo 13,” which lifted off with $722,000 at 10, and Ron Howard’s astronaut saga flew to $51.5 million abroad.

In Italy, “Waterworld” unfurled with a socko $3.2 million in six days on 269, washing all over “Crimson Tide’s” $680,000 on 105; the latter has grossed $32.1 million overseas. “Dumb and Dumber” advanced to a smart $7.6 million in its third round, $109.5 million in foreign.

Kevin Reynolds’ watery epic devoured $2.2 million in six days on 163 in Spain, $352,000 in ditto on 24 in Israel (smashing “Jurassic Park’s” local currency opening record) and $583,000 in 26 in Argentina. At this rate, a foreign total of $150 million looks possible.

Down Under, “Waterworld” grabbed $1.6 million on 110, rated as “fantastic” by one booker. “The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Movie” had a fair debut but exhibs expected it to lift over the weekend as schools started a two-week vacation. “Clueless” began Sept. 14 in Queensland, coinciding with the holidays there, and combined with its Sept. 21 opening day nationally on 73 screens, made a terrif $454,000.

“The Net” followed a similar release pattern and posted a pleasing $280,000. “Apollo 13” fell by a reasonable 26% in its third lap, while “Nine Months” slipped 25% in its sophomore sesh.

After being launched at the San Sebastian fest, “A Walk in the Clouds” romanced $1.4 million in six days on 121 screens in Spain; in Brazil the pic dropped just 20% in its second round, on 91, $1.1 million thus far. “Congo” has harvested $5 million in three weeks in Spain, $51.5 million overseas.

In France, receipts drifted down yet again, and the Paris market was 30% below the same week last year when “Leon,” “Wolf and “Three Colors: Red” were making a mint. A rare bright spot is rookie and Sundance fave “Living in Oblivion,” buoyed by winning the grand prize at the Deauville fest. “Murder in the First” had a deathly debut, while “The Bridges of Madison County” had a strong second, fanned by good reviews and word of mouth. “Crimson Tide” wilted by 30% in its second.

In Taiwan, a market not noted for being partial to romantic comedies, “While You Were Sleeping” pulled $660,000 in five days on 16 screens, BVI’s second highest preem ever. The Sandra Bullock starrer has scored $61.7 million offshore.

A click in Oz, “Species” posted a record preem for an MGM release in New Zealand, snaring $189,000 in six days on 23 screens, and eased by 31% in Thailand, collaring $872,000 in 12 days on 36.

“Die Hard With a Vengeance” powered into Portugal with $288,000 in six days on 24 screens, the second best bow in history there behind “Jurassic Park,” according to BVI, for which the Bruce Willis actioner has grossed $121 million.

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