‘Absolute’ lacks o’seas power

Thank heavens and Gaumont for “The Fifth Element.” Luc Besson’s epic almost single-handedly rescued cinemas from otherwise tedious trading in a raft of overseas markets over the weekend.

The general B.O. lethargy wasn’t stirred much by the arrival of “Absolute Power.”

After its disappointing domestic result of $48.7 million, the Clint Eastwood starrer posted openings that varied from respectable to exceedingly soft.

Gaumont’s Bruce Willis vehicle nabbed $656,000 on 20 screens in Hong Kong (Columbia TriStar’s second highest preem ever, behind “Terminator 2: Judgment Day”), $560,000 on 186 in Mexico, $353,000 on 50 in Malaysia, $357,000 on 40 in Argentina and $270,000 on 42 in Colombia.

Through the third frame in France, the futuristic actioner has sold 3.7 million tickets for a whammo $23.4 million, and in Belgium the 17-day tally is $1.6 million. In its sophomore sesh, Besson’s pic has $3.4 million in Australia (off an acceptable 29%) and $2.3 million in Brazil (down 28%). The foreign cume is about $35.8 million. Its U.S. take is upwards of $46 million.

“Absolute Power” debuted in 11 markets, including France’s $1.7 million on 449, Germany’s $1.2 million on 517 (both underwhelming), Italy’s $1 million in five days on 206 (a solid number, faring better in the cities than the provinces), $232,000 on 26 in the Philippines, $221,000 on 11 in Taiwan and $211,000 on 30 in Belgium. The worst showing was in Japan, where the weekend take was $447,000 on 88.

Playing on nearly 1,600 screens overseas, the pic grossed $5.4 million. The figures suggest Eastwood’s predominantly older fans will turn out to see him in a romance such as “The Bridges of Madison County,” but they’re less interested in dramas like “Absolute Power” and “In the Line of Fire.”

‘Reunion’ well-attended

After doing well in New Zealand, “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion” landed in Australia with a hearty $842,000 on 107, second behind “Element,” and about level with the debut of “Clueless.” “The Associate” endured yet another disastrous preem, while Oz pic “True Love and Chaos” came in with a slender $85,000 on 16.

In the heat-depressed U.K., “Beavis and Butt-head Do America” checked in with a dull $1.1 million on 269 (it struggled in the Netherlands, too), while “Jungle 2 Jungle” bombed with $336,000 on 250. “Scream” had a fairly good fourth frame for $9.1 million to date and its overseas cume hit $22.1 million.

“Jungle 2 Jungle” miscued in Hong Kong but took a pleasing $188,000 on 15 in Singapore.

In its sole foreign engagement to date, “Volcano” had a splendid second lap in South Korea (off 9%), bagging $2.4 million thus far. “One Fine Day” dawned in Brazil with a sturdy $327,000 on 63 but was blah in Denmark and Norway; the cume is $30 million.

“Star Wars” took off in Malaysia with a subdued $140,000 on 24 and its cume since re-issue reached $98.7 million; expect it to zoom past $100 million when it bows in Japan this weekend. “The Empire Strikes Back” moved along to $46.6 million and “Return of the Jedi” to $32.7 million.

“Jerry Maguire” fell by 30% in Japan for a neat nine-day haul of $3.8 million and its foreign total topped $103 million. “The First Wives Club” crashed in Japan with $277,000 in three days on 81; its cume is $75.9 million.

“The Saint” launched in Brazil with a bright $354,000 on 77 and Mexico at $302,000 on 120; the tally is $26.5 million.

Checking other cumes, “The English Patient” advanced to $134.7 million (including an estimated $7.2 million after the fifth round in Japan), “Dante’s Peak” ascended to $93.9 million, “William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet” reached $83.6 million, “Liar Liar” got to $34.4 million and “Metro” to $32.6 million.

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