Grosses sag, but 'Fifth' shines in Spain

“The Lost World: Jurassic Park” wowed Australia, “Star Wars” ignited in Japan and “The Fifth Element” socked Spain last week, but in other parts of Europe there was little respite from the summertime B.O. blues.

Euro exhibs lamented “Absolute Power’s” low-voltage results and the effects of wonderful weather and a scarcity of hot product. In France, one programmer said gloomily he foresees no major uplift until the arrival of “Batman & Robin” on July 9.

However, Buena Vista’s “Con Air” was expected to post big numbers over the weekend as it launched day-and-date with domestic in the U.K., Hong Kong, Israel and seven Latino markets.

Dinos dominate Down Under

The “Jurassic Park” sequel captured a mighty $5.6 million on 310 screens Down Under, a record opening for distrib United Intl. Pictures and the territory’s second-highest preem ever behind “Independence Day’s” $7.6 million.

In “Lost World’s” wake, “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion” held remarkably well for $1.7 million in two weeks (slipping 29%) and Aussie comedy “The Castle” tailed off by a mere 15%, accumulating a superb $5.6 million in eight weeks.

In Singapore, Steven Spielberg’s epic garnered $524,000 in three days’ sneaks ahead of the June 5 bow, beating “Independence Day’s” previous previews record.

“Star Wars” nabbed $3.1 million in five days on 137 in Japan, propelling the cume since reissue to $102.5 million — the sixth click to join the $100 million grossers’ club this year.

That’s an encouraging start considering the fickle state of the Japanese B.O. (last year the U.S. majors’ rentals there skidded by 26%, tallying $269.4 million), and that Fox and its promo partners are spending more than $15 million on marketing the trilogy. Back in 1978, “Star Wars” grossed a socko $58 million in Japan.

Spain takes to ‘Element’

One Spanish exhib described “Fifth Element’s” bow as “spectacular,” crediting that to a host of factors including the explosive mix of sci-fi and muscle-bound star Bruce Willis, the pic’s high profile at Cannes and a hefty ad-promo campaign that had helmer Luc Besson on a tubthumping visit to Madrid.

But Gaumont’s pic cruised into Holland with a moderate $350,000 in six days on 49. The foreign cume soared to about $50 million, paced by France’s phenomenal $28.2 million in four weeks, Australia’s $4.5 million in three weeks (off 52% after the dinosaurs’ invasion) and Belgium’s $1.9 million.

“Liar Liar” scored $2.9 million on 526 in Germany and $521,000 on 62 in Austria; its foreign total jumped to $42.6 million, with France, Spain and Japan still to come. One Teutonic exhib said the Jim Carrey starrer is doing excellent biz, while another said he expected it to do rather better.

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