'Air' on rare o'seas tear

While Asia provided a few thrills at the foreign box office, much of Europe continued in a holding pattern, awaiting clearance for “Con Air,” which took off day-and-date with its domestic launch in selected territories and went into high altitude at the foreign box office during the week, with 11 top-spot preems.

In Blighty, “Con Air” went to the top of the charts, posting the fourth-largest June bow in U.K. history and sending “Turbulence” into a 61% nosedive.

But after BVI’s strong publicity campaign, exhibs had hoped for more from “Con Air,” which, like other pics, suffered at the hands of good weather and local successes on the soccer and cricket fields.

The aero actioner scored an excellent $1 million from 25 Hong Kong theaters, nearly tripling the results of the 20-screen bow by UIP’s “The Saint” (cume: $33.7 million), and took $800,000 in three days from 144 prints in Brazil, flattening the bow of Fox’s “Inventing the Abbots” ($162,018 from 35 sites).

Mexican treat

“Con Air” delivered BVI’s second-largest-ever non-animated bow in Mexico with $625,000 from 180 sites; elevated $450,000 from 28 houses in Argentina; and landed Israel’s third-largest bow of all time (behind “Independence Day” and “Ransom”) with $325,000 from 28 cinemas.

Including No. 1 bows in Chile, Colombia, Panama, Uruguay and Venezuela, pic nabbed $6.9 million from results that were largely in line with BVI’s previous Nicolas Cage starrer, “The Rock.”

And the torrid pace is set to continue, with BVI clearing “Con Air” for take-off in about 50% of the foreign box office territories before the end of June, starting last weekend in Germany and Austria, followed by Spain, Holland and South Korea.

‘World’ of success

The other star of the frame was UIP’s “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” (cume: $12.3 million), which staged a socko second foreign outing in Singapore after its strong Oz bow. A record-breaking number of Singaporeans flocked to see the pic on 40 screens, swelling UIP’s coffers by almost $2.6 million (including previews). The stunning screen average of $63,914 makes it the territory’s largest bow of all time.

Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “Double Team” also posted such a surprisingly good bow Down Under that it beat a still good, but not spectacular, bow by Glenn Close starrer “Paradise Road.”

Also in Oz, Fox’s “Inventing the Abbotts” and “Set It Off” were tepid, while “Swingers” did great biz from a three-screen preem. Jim Carrey’s “Liar Liar” posted a first-day opening figure of $527,965 from 224 prints.

“The Fifth Element” was one of the few pics off to a decent start in Europe, thrilling $135,000 from 15 prints in a top Finnish bow, and a whopping $378,644 on 10 screens in London (where “Crash” had an OK spin), although the real test comes this week when Luc Besson’s pic goes wide on 373 screens.

In Germany, strong holdover “Liar Liar” (cume: $47.2 million) was way ahead of freshman competition.

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