‘Day’ leads o’seas Xmas boom

Stand by for a sparkling Christmas season abroad, with “Independence Day” scoring a record-shattering debut in Japan last weekend, and socko contributions from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Ransom” and “Space Jam.”

That’s not to say all the high-profile pics are performing with perfect uniformity as they travel overseas. “Jingle All the Way,” “The Long Kiss Goodnight” and even “101 Dalmatians” are setting zigzag patterns in their first round of foreign engagements.

But it’s ever upwards for “Independence Day,” which had the distinction Saturday of becoming the third title in history (following “Jurassic Park” and “The Lion King”) to surpass $400 million overseas (Daily Variety Dec. 9). Roland Emmerich’s epic didn’t so much fall over the line as fly past it, thanks to its massive $9.3 million weekend on 287 screens in Japan, besting “Jurassic’s” entry.

The foreign cume jumped to $410.1 million, and Fox Intl. execs believe the sci-fier could hit $100 million in Japan alone. One rival distrib in Tokyo said he’s forecasting the Fox blockbuster will earn rentals of at least 7 billion yen ($63 million), and he doubts whether next weekend’s debutantes “Daylight” and “The Birdcage” will have a discernible impact on the aliens. “Day” now stands as the all-time B.O. champ in Germany at $70 million after overtaking “Lion King’s” $63.7 million.

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” vaulted to $121 million after collaring $15.5 million over the weekend. It’s running hot in France, pocketing $5.7 million on 636 (off just 14%) for $13 million in 12 days, and medium warm in Germany, with $6.2 million in 11 days. The animated pic rolled out on 87 screens in Italy after a three-week solo run in Rome with stage show, bagging $1.5 million (slightly up on “Lion King”) for $2.6 million to date. It will gradually widen in Italy to a total of nearly 500 prints by Christmas. After the third weekend wide in Spain, the total is $7.5 million.

“Ransom” blasted off in Korea with $790,000 on 33, and in Seoul alone its $427,000 bounty on 16 was the third-highest preem in history behind “Independence Day” and “The Rock,” BVI reported. Ron Howard’s thriller has accumulated a handsome $8.3 million through the fourth weekend in Australia and $12 million in six markets thus far.

“Space Jam” eclipsed “Lion King’s” openings in Singapore with $441,000 on 24 and in Hong Kong at $410,000 on 20. The Michael Jordan/Bugs Bunny caper also shot a lively $115,000 on 60 in South Africa.

Renny Harlin’s “Long Kiss Goodnight” entered Spain with a sleepy $527,000 on 134, which New Line reported was well behind fellow freshmen “Jingle All the Way” and “Sleepers.” But “Long Kiss” notched hearty figures in Sweden ($270,000 on 55) and Norway ($237,000 on 30), and abated by a reasonable 30% in the U.K. for a nifty $4.1 million in 10 days.

“101 Dalmatians” landed in Australia with an unexceptional $730,000 on 190, but Disney’s distrib Roadshow says word of mouth is terrif, and it expects the pic to really take off when schools start vacation later this month.

Some exhibs felt “Dalmatians” was released a tad early, but Disney wanted a clear window between it and “Space Jam’s” arrival on Thursday.

“Maximum Risk” unspooled with a fair $378,000 on 88, bringing the cume in 10 markets to $8.6 million. The actioner is expected to work better in Europe, where Jean-Claude Van Damme packs more B.O. wallop than in Asia.

In a generally soft frame Down Under, “Star Trek: First Contact” plunged by 59% after a stellar opening for $2.4 million in 11 days. “Dalmatians” chewed up $680,000 on 70 in Argentina, a summer-opening record and the third best in history behind “Independence Day” and “Lion King” (both winter starters), and added a tasty $360,000 on 89 in Thailand.

“Jingle All the Way” swiped $6.2 million as it initialed in 12 territories. The more impressive scores included $2.2 million on 414 in Germany, $406,000 on 172 in Mexico, and $300,000 on 56 in the Philippines. In the fair-to-poor column were the U.K.’s $1.5 million on 307, and Korea’s $220,000 on 35. Including holdovers in Oz and New Zealand, the cume is $8.8 million. Due to a public holiday, Fox didn’t have opening figures for Spain.

“The Nutty Professor” advanced to $122 million, and checked into Thailand with a fine $418,000 on 45. “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julia Newmar” struggled into France with $156,000 on 36, the latest in a string of failures that has yielded just $8.7 million in 27 territories. “The First Wives Club” ($21.8 million in 16 markets) turned an OK $232,000 in its first weekend on 33 in Taiwan. “Michael Collins” eased by just 20% in Italy, tallying $2.8 million in 10 days.

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