The good news about the weekend’s foreign B.O. is that business continues to thrive with a broad mix of healthy titles led by “Ransom,” “Daylight,” “Evita” and “Sleepers.” The bad news is the debuts of some U.S. releases that failed to match their domestic performances.

The frame’s standout was “Ransom,” which pulled $2.3 million on 229 screens in Italy, an all-time high for Buena Vista Intl.; and $638,000 on 200 in Mexico, a record both for a January preem and for a BVI live action release, beating “Die Hard With a Vengeance” by 25%.

Ron Howard’s thriller had excellent second rounds in Spain, tallying $4.7 million to date, and in Holland for $1.6 million. The Mel Gibson-starrer amassed $11 million abroad (excluding its Brazil bow, where figures were not available) and the cume shot up to $64.8 million.

The effervescent “Daylight” ascended to $83.4 million, fueled by Japan’s $15.1 million, Spain’s $9.1 million, South Korea’s $6.2 million and the U.K.’s $5.8 million.

“Evita’s” cume climbed to a lilting $27.6 million, led by the U.K.’s $12.9 million through the fifth outing (off only 19%), Italy’s estimated $6 million, and Germany’s $3.1 million in 11 days. Alan Parker’s musical opens today in Japan and in Spain and South Korea this weekend.

Some studios’ figures were not available due to the Martin Luther King holiday.

No ‘Sleeper’

Polygram reported that “Sleepers” jumped to $64 million (outpacing domestic’s $53.1 million), powered by the U.K.’s handsome $8.6 million in 17 days (easing 17%), Spain’s $7.5 million and Sweden’s $773,000 in 10 days

“The First Wives Club” delivered a high-kicking $570,000 on 52 screens in Italy, and racked up $870,000 from uniformly good debuts in the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Portugal and Israel. The cume topped $51 million, including a fair $2.2 million after 12 days in France (off 11%).

“The Nutty Professor” bounded into Sweden for a smart $306,000 on 60 and has harvested $603,000 in nine days on 15 in South Korea; foreign total is $127.1 million.

Now for the also-rans. Proving to be a weaker draw overseas than at home, “Courage Under Fire” had tepid debuts in Germany, Austria, Holland and Switzerland. Edward Zwick’s drama has cumed $30.9 million.

No phenom

“Phenomenon,” another title that’s struggling to match its U.S. altitude, bowed in Japan with $674,000 on 104, especially soft outside the key cities. Its total is $46.9 million. After a sluggish run in Japan, “The Preacher’s Wife” landed in Germany with a tame $739,000 on 260, and was even shakier in the U.K. with $450,000 on 203. “The Ghost and the Darkness” arrived in the U.K. with a less than thrilling $1 million on 266, but had a reasona-bly good sophomore session in Australia for $2.5 million in 11 days. “Shine” broadened from 24 to 31 screens in its third round in Blighty, collecting a strong $334,000, and $1.2 million to date.

Down Under, “Chain Reaction” came in with a decent $560,000 on 109, and had similarly brisk starts in New Zealand and the Philippines; cume is $38.2 million.

“Romeo & Juliet” reigned again in Oz, advancing to a splendid $7 million through the fourth round. Helmer Baz Luhrmann’s take on Shakespeare has bagged an amazing $5.4 million in the same frame in South Korea, and a tidy $1.1 million in Brazil and $1.2 million in Mexico after the second and third weekends, respectively.

“The Portrait of a Lady” fell by 28% after a lackluster entry in Germany for $579,000 in 11 days. Its cume in seven markets is $8.5 million.

“Star Trek: First Contact” blasted off in Switzerland with a rousing $204,000 on 17 but in Taiwan generated a so-so $217,000 on 34. The total in seven territories is $37.2 million.

New Line’s “The Long Kiss Goodnight” reached $32.6 million (a hair below domestic) with Japan and Italy to come, and “Last Man Standing” moved up to $20.5 million (beating domestic’s $18.1 million).

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