Dogs wag uneven frame; cold chills auds

The foreign B.O. last week was as spotty as the puppies in “101 Dalmatians.” “Independence Day” had a record-breaking debut in Japan, while “Ransom” and “Space Jam” had boffo bows in Asia, and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” generally earned tidy sums in Europe.

However, seesaw performances by “Jingle All the Way,” “The Long Kiss Goodnight” and even “Dalmatians,” together with freezing weather, put a chill on other markets.

“Independence Day” soared to $413.1 million abroad, propelled by Japan’s extraordinary $11.9 million in three days on 280, commanding 75% of the entire Tokyo market. Fox Intl. believes the sci-fier could hit $100 million there, and one rival distrib forecast it will clock rentals of at least 7 billion yen ($63 million). The alien pic now stands as the all-time B.O. champ in Germany at $70 million after overtaking “The Lion King’s” $63.7 mil.

“Hunchback” reached $122.4 million, spurred by France’s outstanding $13.8 million in two weeks, Germany’s moderately good $6.7 million in ditto, Spain’s lively $7.7 million nearing the end of the third week wide and Italy’s $3.2 million after six days wide and three weeks solo in Rome. The top earners thus far are Japan’s $18.3 million and the U.K.’s $16.6 million.

“Ransom” stole $1.4 million in five days on 33 in Korea, ranking in Seoul as the third-highest preem in history behind “Day” and “The Rock.” The Mel Gibson starrer has a handsome $8.6 million through the fourth lap in Australia; six-territory total is $13 mil.

“Space Jam” eclipsed “Lion King’s” openings in Singapore with $677,000 in five days on 24 and in Hong Kong at $476,000 on 20. The Michael Jordan/Bugs Bunny caper also netted $207,000 on 60 in South Africa.

The Dec. 6 Constitution Day holiday traditionally marks the start of the Christmas season in Spain, but one exhib branded this one a semi-failure, aggravated by snowfalls and a Madrid-Barcelona soccer match billed as “the game of the century.”The Disney pooches in “101 Dalmatians” arrived in Australia with an unexceptional $1 million on 190, but distrib Roadshow says word of mouth is terrif and it expects the pic to hit top gear when schools start vacation in two weeks. In a generally soft frame Down Under, “Star Trek: First Contact” plunged by 55% after a stellar opening, for $2.7 million in 14 days, and “Maximum Risk” ($8.7 million in 10 markets) had a so-so start.

“Dalmatians” chewed up $1.1 million on 70 in Argentina, a summer opening record and the third-best in history behind “Independence Day” and “Lion King” (both winter starters), plus a tasty $607,000 on 89 in Thailand, and $681,000 after two weeks in Singapore.

“Jingle All the Way” initialed in 12 territories, including a fair $2.8 million in five days on 414 in Germany, a lively $508,000 in three days on 172 in Mexico and $520,000 in six days on 56 in the Philippines. Brian Levant’s comedy was a bust in Korea and rather soft in the U.K.; including holdovers in Oz and Kiwi, cume is $11.7 million.

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