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Pups bow big overseas; 'Jingle' dangles

More wasn’t necessarily better last week, as many overseas markets were cluttered with pre-holiday releases ranging in temperature from red hot to deathly cold. “Daylight” and “101 Dalmatians” had rousing debuts, and “The Long Kiss Goodnight” showed more oomph abroad than domestically, but it was mostly tough sledding for “Jingle All the Way” as it arrived in 21 territories.

Buena Vista Intl. passed a historic milestone last week when its combined grosses surpassed $1 billion (Daily Variety, Dec. 20). That’s the first time a Hollywood company has exceeded the $1 billion mark overseas two years in a row. Credit a lot of that to “The Rock” ($194.5 million), “Toy Story” ($159.2 million this calendar year) and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which powered along in Europe as its foreign cume jumped to $139.8 million.

“Hunchback” held pole position in its third lap wide in France for a juicy $19 million to date, and in Germany with $9.6 million. Expanding to 150 prints in Italy, the animated pic climbed to $6.4 million. BVI expects the final gross to exceed $200 million.

“Independence Day” continued on a tear in Japan, minting a whammo $24.8 million in 11 days on 277 after a record-breaking week, propelling its total to $427.1 million. However, “Jingle All the Way” landed in Japan with a dull $870,000 in four days on 116, puzzling some tradesters who expected Arnold Schwarzenegger’s B.O. clout to at least ensure a respectable launch.

After a blah October-November, takings in the U.K. nearly doubled as “101 Dalmatians” raced in with $5.4 million in six days on 461 (a record December preem) and “Star Trek: First Contact” gravitated to $5.2 million on 332, including previews. “Dalmatians” bit off a tasty $890,000 on 235 in Mexico, the highest bow ever by a Buena Vista Intl. live-action release there, beating “Die Hard With a Vengeance.”

In some other markets, exhibs weren’t happy. “The box office lacks depth,” griped one Spanish booker, who had little to cheer about, apart from “Daylight’s” hefty $1.8 million in six days on 164. The Sylvester Stallone vehicle also nabbed $707,000 on 200 in Mexico and $230,000 on 28 in Portugal (both in six days) and $147,000 in two days on 49 in Indonesia. The acid test will be its holding power and weekend debuts in a bunch of markets including Japan, France, Italy and Korea.

“Space Jam” had comparatively more heft in New Zealand ($272,000 on 39, the sixth-highest preem ever for a Warners release there) and Indonesia ($282,000 on 41, including previews). Through its second lap, the Warners pic has a fine $1 million in Singapore and a less impressive $783,000 in Hong Kong. “Dragonheart” delivered a dashing $164,000 in six days on 15 in Denmark; its total in 34 territories is $46.4 million.

“The Long Kiss Goodnight” grabbed a decent $1.4 million on 250 in France, $1.3 million on 240 in Germany and $879,000 in five days on 50 in Korea. Among the holdovers are the U.K.’s $5.7 million in 20 days (off 48%), Spain’s slim $1.1 million in 13 days (where it was knocked by “Sleepers”) and Sweden’s $700,000 in 13. The cume in 11 markets is $12.4 million.

“The First Wives Club” rolled out in Germany with a boisterous $2.9 million on 306 and Austria at $476,000 on 35; cume is $27.9 million in 19 markets. However “High School High” had a tepid debut, and one Teutonic booker said trading was unremarkable before the eagerly awaited Dec. 19 liftoff of the new “Star Trek.”

Brian Levant’s “Jingle” has tallied $26.4 million overseas; best results are Germany’s $5.8 million in 13 days and Brazil’s $1.2 million in five days on 178. Fox’s comedy stiffed in Italy (prosaically retitled “A Promise is a Promise”) and in France.

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