But 'Element', 'Volcano,' 'Maguire' start well

A combination of baking hot weather in Europe and a dearth of new releases cooled B.O. receipts overseas last weekend, partially offset by several boffo bows by “The Fifth Element,” “Volcano’s” fiery start in South Korea and “Jerry Maguire’s” muscular entry in Japan.

The Whitsun holiday in France, Germany, the Netherlands and other Euro markets meant a lot of B.O. figures either were unavailable or sketchy. But there’s little doubt that “Metro’s” 47% second weekend plunge in Germany was worse than the usual drop for an actioner of this genre, exacerbated by the weather. Distrib BVI reported “Metro” managed to keep pole position, grossing $800,000, for a 10-day total of $3.3 million; offshore cume is $28.8 million.

Luc Besson’s “Fifth Element” scored $1.7 million on 189 screens in Australia, Columbia TriStar’s third- highest opener ever behind “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” and “Jerry Maguire.” “Element” faced minimal competition from rookies “The Chamber” (described by one exhib as “mediocre”) and “My Fellow Americans” and “The Stupids” (both D.O.A.).

The Bruce Willis-starrer pulled an equally impressive $1.1 million on 140 in Brazil, $567,000 on 32 in Singapore and $202,000 on 32 in Puerto Rico, and it abated by just 25% in its sophomore sesh in Belgium for $1.3 million to date. The second weekend update in France wasn’t available due to the holiday.

Lava lovers

“Volcano” blew hot and strong in Korea for $908,000 on 54 screens, Fox Intl.’s second-highest debut after “Independence Day,” and 30% up on “Dante’s Peak’s” debut.

Mick Jackson’s L.A.-set disaster epic rolls out next month in the Philippines, Mexico and Down Under.

Cameron Crowe’s “Jerry Maguire” garnered $1.5 million in two days on 179 in Japan, 20% ahead of “Sleepless in Seattle,” which wound with a lofty 1.6 billion yen ($16 million) in rentals. Its foreign total is $98.1 million, so it’s just a few days away from clocking $100 million: the fifth click this year to reach that milestone.

“Jungle 2 Jungle” swung into the Philippines with $173,000 on 17, a fair result for a light comedy in a predominantly action market, after earning a so-so $406,000 in five weeks in Taiwan. The Tim Allen-starrer faces major tests this weekend when it bows in the U.K., Brazil, Hong Kong and Singapore.

In the U.K., receipts fell by 18% as “Liar Liar” slid by 32% in its third lap for a socko $11.4 million to date, and “Scream” eased by just 6% for $6.9 million in the same period.

“The Relic” came in with a dull $863,000 on 224, while “While We Were Kings” averaged a healthy $5,798 on 18 screens.

“Liar Liar” stepped into Argentina with a solid $214,000 on 30 and Portugal at $185,000 on 30: its cume is $26.9 million in 18 territories. “Scream’s” total is $18.8 million. “The English Patient” reached $129.1 million, “Dante’s Peak” climbed to $89.7 million and “The Devil’s Own” rose to $81.5 million. Much further down the ladder, “The Saint” advanced to $21.6 million in 15 markets, including $1.2 million in 10 days in Italy (off 39%) and $2 million after 13 days in Korea.

Domestic underachiever “Fools Rush In” posted ordinary numbers in Spain ($467,000 on 100) and Mexico ($301,000 on 120), but corpsed in Italy. “Selena” reigned in its third lap in Mexico, amassing $2.3 million thus far.

‘Jedi’ no master

“Return of the Jedi” appears to be suffering from the same sort of audience ennui overseas that afflicted the rerelease in the U.S. The third chapter in the trilogy had soft debuts in Taiwan and Chile, and earned just $1.1 million over the weekend, bringing the cume since re-issue to $30.5 million. “The Empire Strikes Back” inched up to $45.9 million and “Star Wars” barely moved from last week’s tally of $98.2 million.

“William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet” hit $80.3 million, fueled by Japan’s $6.7 million through the fifth weekend and the U.K.’s $10 million.

“One Fine Day” had soft starts in Mexico and Venezuela, and its cume crawled on to $26.7 million.

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