Sci-fi'er sets record in Japan; 'Air Force' strong

In a busy frame full of surprises at the overseas box office, “Men in Black” finished its foreign campaign in fine style, newcomers “Alien Resurrection,” “The Peacemaker” and “Kiss the Girls” gathered pace and “The Jackal,” “The Borrowers,” “Flubber” and “Diana & Me” staged international preems that ranged from pleasing to downright embarrassing.

“Men in Black” wowed $5.2 million from 261 screens (including previews) for Sony’s biggest bow ever in Japan, pushing pic’s cume to $290.7 million. That makes it a safe bet to pass $300 million overseas by early 1998 to join company with “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (cume: $374.4 million).

Despite the Sony onslaught, BVI’s “Air Force One” (cume: $110.2 million) took an additional $1.8 million its second Nippon lap for a local cume of $7.2 million. Pic also landed top spot in Argentina with $422,000 from 57 prints, nabbing 30% of the weekend box office there.

‘Tibet’ tops ‘Game’

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend was in Spain, where Mandalay’s “Seven Years in Tibet” (cume: $22 million) spirited a wonderful $2.4 million from 202 prints, ahead of Polygram’s “The Game” (cume: $25 million), which tricked $946,000 from 142 screens (as well as $145,946 from 40 Swedish sites) and BVI’s “George of the Jungle” (cume: $23 million), which swung $623,000 from 105 sites.

But the presence of Brad Pitt has not managed to interest English-speaking audiences in the troubled history of Tibet. After a soft U.K. outing three weeks ago, “Seven Years” disappointed in Australia with $420,000 from 148 sites, but that was better than the measly $82,777 mustered by the world preem of Roadshow’s Toni Collette starrer “Diana & Me” on 117 prints.

The star of the frame Down Under was UIP/DreamWorks’ “The Peacemaker” (cume: $50.9 million), which found eager audiences, spying $1.1 million from 170 screens (including previews) in a top spot ahead of Mandalay’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” which hung onto second spot after last week’s fab foreign preem with a local cume of $1.7 million. “Peacemaker” also grabbed $457,433 from 72 Thai theaters, $273,700 from 30 New Zealand sites and $179,100 from 34 Malaysian houses.

Sony’s “My Best Friend’s Wedding” (cume: $105.7 million) waltzed into top spot in Germany, romancing $2.8 million from 502 prints, ahead of stablemate “Double Team” bouncing into third spot with a surprisingly OK $1.1 million from 364 sites. Also in Germany, Warners’ “L.A. Confidential” (cume: $23.7 million) sleuthed $386,063 from 114 houses (while grabbing an estimated $62,600 and $71,185 from 14 Austrian and 15 Turkish screens), ahead of Polygram’s Aussie pic “Mr. Reliable,” turning in an appalling $635 from three prints.

‘Alien’ insurrection

Fox’s “Alien Resurrection” (cume: $37.5 million) slimed top-spot debuts in Belgium and Denmark, with $511,454 and $384,593 (including previews) from 58 and 48 prints respectively. Pic took $7 million more in the fourth lap of its foreign tour, pushing cumes in Germany and the U.K. to $7.9 million and $3.9 million, respectively.

Also gathering steam was UIP’s “Kiss the Girls” (cume: $6 million), which spooked a pleasing $1.1 million from 157 French sites (and $82,020 from 10 Swiss screens, plus an OK $252,306 from 123 Mexican prints), way ahead of “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”

BVI’s “Hercules” retained top spot in its sophomore sesh in France, added screens in Italy and Spain, declined just 17% in its third German lap and took $10.1 million from a great weekend in Europe, pushing the cume to $87 million on its way to $100 million by next week.

In the U.K. and the Irish Republic, Polygram’s “The Borrowers” had a spiffy world preem, stealing $1.6 million from 351 screens. It was the best freshman, in second place behind sophomore “Alien Resurrection,” but ahead of “Cop Land’s” still-good bow of $1.1 million from 242 sites and a sorry outing for Fox’s “Paradise Road” (cume: $1.2 million), which inspired just $17,500 from 19 cinemas. “The Full Monty” (cume: $115.6 million) amassed $1.1 million more in its 15th lap for a U.K. tally of $67.6 million.

UIP’s “The Jackal” had a fab international preem in Singapore, shooting $414,724 from 27 prints, while BVI’s “Flubber” laughed $216,000 from 81 screens during its foreign debut in Thailand.

Warners’ “Devil’s Advocate” (cume: $1.3 million) wowed $599,705 from 40 cinemas in Taiwan (ahead of stablemate “Hoodlum,” stiffing with just $25,880 from 40 sites in two days) and $313,563 from a top-spot bow in 20 Hong Kong houses.

BVI’s “Starship Troopers” (three market cume: $4.5 million) retained top spot in its second South Korea lap, while Warners’ “Fathers’ Day” (cume: $7.6 million) took a blah $49,500 from 30 Dutch theaters.

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