Israeli auds promote ‘Peace’ process

While “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “Contact,” “The Full Monty” and several other U.S. hits continued to reap tidy sums overseas last weekend, Hollywood had to take a back seat to homegrown releases in major European territories.

One highlight was the foreign preem of DreamWorks’ “The Peacemaker,” which hurtled into Israel with a whammo $310,000 in five days on 25, despite heavy floods that affected cinemas in the south. That was distrib United Intl. Pictures’ second-biggest opening of the year there behind “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”

Taking advantage of a relatively quiet frame for U.S. entries, national films seized pole position in Germany, Italy and France, while in the U.K. local comedy “The Full Monty” maintained its extraordinary run, garnering $2.9 million in its eighth round (slipping a minuscule 6%), cuming $41.2 million.

“Best Friend’s Wedding” stood tall as the top-grossing total abroad, amassing $7.6 million from 1,768 screens, and it carried Hollywood’s colors to top spot in Spain, minting $1.7 million in three days on 177. Columbia TriStar’s second-highest preem ever there behind “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

The romantic comedy’s cume vaulted to $57 million, including the U.K.’s $11.4 million, Australia’s $8.6 million, France’s $7.3 million and Japan’s $4 million (the latter two through the third lap).

Firm ‘Contact’

Robert Zemeckis’ “Contact” was the second-highest earner internationally, hauling in $5.7 million from 1,654 screens in 21 markets. The Jodie Foster starrer grossed a buoyant $1.2 million on 194 Down Under and had sturdy bows in Hong Kong ($254,000 on 18) and Portugal ($170,000 on 25, a Warner Bros. record).

Fox’s “Monty” was the No. 3 performer, pulling $5.4 million from eight territories for a $46 million cume. The Sheffield-set laugher tickled Australia’s funny bone to the tune of $1.3 million on 136 screens; including previews on the prior two weekends, the total is $2.1 million. In its soph session in Spain, Fox added 24 screens and takings shot up by 60% to $557,000 on 94, for $1.1 million to date.

In Germany, Teutonic entry “Ballermann 6” pulled $3 million on 471, ahead of soph “Contact’s” $1.7 million on 413 (off 20%), for $4.9 million thus far.

“Fireworks,” Italo director-actor Leonardo Pieraccioni’s followup to megahit “The Cyclone” (which made $44 million in Italy), debuted on home turf with a fiery $5.4 million on 247 screens in the key cities. Nationwide tally wasn’t available.

Gallic debutante “Le Pari” fetched a hearty $966,000 on 48 screens in Paris, No. 1 there (national figures weren’t known at press time). “George of the Jungle” swung into France with a fair $682,000 on 248 ahead of the school vacation, which starts next weekend; its cume is $9.3 million in 10 markets, highlighted by Australia’s $4.9 million.

“Air Force One” harvested $4.3 million at the weekend, lifting its cume to $56.1 million. The presidential actioner scored $908,000 on 99 in the Philippines (the second-highest preem in history there after “Independence Day”) and $265,000 on 45 in Norway.

Greece job

Buena Vista Intl. stablemate “Face/Off” nabbed $4.4 million abroad, spiking the cume to $82.8 million. John Woo’s pic opened at No. 1 in Greece with $249,000 on 23.

“Hercules” expanded to 495 screens in the U.K. aiming to capitalize on the midterm vacation, grossing $2.3 million on 495 for a total of $4.8 million. “Volcano” unearthed $4.1 million from launches in eight markets plus holdovers, propelling the cume to $55.8 million. The openings ranged from Japan’s tepid $1.8 million on 142 to Argentina’s lively $349,000 on 60.

“Men in Black” pocketed $4 million on 1,901 screens and its cume raced to $263 million. “Lost World” climbed to $333.7 million, “Bean” moved up to $115.6 million and “Conspiracy Theory” hit $36.7 million.

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