'Confidential,' 'Contact' keep B.O. buzzing

The pace picked up over the weekend at the overseas box office as WB staged OK, although not fantastic, foreign preems for “L.A. Confidential,” Jodie Foster’s Euro tour began to pay dividends for “Contact,” while, after being beaten by Sony’s “My Best Friend’s Wedding” in France, BVI’s “Air Force One” turned the tables in Taiwan.

Debuting in France during the second lap of “Air Force One” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “L.A. Confidential” sleuthed a fair $911,173 from 216 prints for third place behind the dueling holdovers, which continued to do good biz. Bow probably came too long after Cannes to capitalize on its favorable exposure, although WB notes the preem was equal to “The Usual Suspects” and 84% of “Goodfellas.”

In Mexico, pic was weaker, nabbing $104,298 from 100 prints (80% of “Pulp Fiction’s” bow), for fifth place behind “Air Force One,” “Contact,” “Mimic” and “Wedding.” In Switzerland, the Russel Crowe starrer garnered a stronger $56,251 from six screens — even with “Goodfellas” and 150% stronger than “Usual Suspects.”

‘Contact’ comes to life

Jodie Foster’s Euro tour sparked lifelines for “Contact” (cume: $37.1 million), which wowed $2.4 million from 386 theaters in Germany, WB’s second-best bow there this year behind “Space Jam,” while beaming $294,417 from a top spot bow in 57 Austrian cinemas. Pic also swiped top spot in Finland, with $208,159 from 30 sites, took a good $121,410 from 35 Danish houses and rose 22% to hold top spot in Switzerland, where “My Best Friend’s Wedding” rose 41%.

A breathtaking bow in Taiwan for “Air Force One,” elevating $1.4 million from 11 screens (40% greater than “The Rock”), sent “Wedding” tumbling by 41%. “Air Force,” whose Taiwan bow was that nation’s second-biggest preem of all time behind “Mission: Impossible,” also kidnapped a great bow — $448,000 from 73 sites — in Holland (equal to “Face/Off” and “The Rock”), although “Wedding” stood its ground, falling just 5%.

Like “Air Force” (cume: $47.2 million), “Hercules” (cume: $42.5 million) looks like it could head north of $200 million. Pic’s European preem animated a great $1.7 million from 210 sites in the U.K., ahead of national school vacations when its screen count will more than double. The preem was behind the seventh U.K. lap in top spot for Fox’s “The Full Monty” (cume: $36.8 million), which also stripped a good $346,651 and $131,313 from 70 and 30 screens in Spain and Norway, respectively.

‘Hercules’ outplays ‘Game’

But “Hercules’ ” U.K. preem beat Polygram’s “The Game” (cume: $2.5 million), which thrilled a so-so $1.1 million from 291 U.K./Irish screens, an OK $237,786 from 61 screens for “Nil by Mouth” (Gary Oldman’s directorial debut) and a poor $242,186 from 183 sites for “Father’s Day.”

“My Best Friend’s Wedding” (cume: $44.5 million) looks certain to pass $100 million after an excellent fortnight. In Belgium, pic’s $685,702 from 45 screens beat the recent Sony record set by “Men in Black,” while pic laffed $403,220 from 56 prints in the Philippines. But the Julia Roberts starrer came off second-best, with a still-good $143,097 from 28 sites, in Portugal, where “Face/Off” (cume: $72 million) nabbed $168,000 from 36.

“Face/Off” generated $6.3 million over the weekend, including a $1.2 million top-spot bow on 74 Swedish screens (BVI’s largest live-action preem there and records for both John Travolta and Nick Cage), while tripling the results of “Con Air” and “Broken Arrow” in Italy with $695,000 from 135 prints (before going wider this week) and wowing $195,000 in a top-spot bow on 74 South African screens.

‘Speed 2′ cruising

Fox’s “Speed 2: Cruise Control” is paddling toward $100 million after staging Fox’s second-best opener in Thailand (behind “Independence Day”), with $558,890 from 97 prints, pushing the cume to $99.1 million.

“Men in Black” (foreign cume: $252.8 million and just shy of $500 million worldwide) set Sony records in Croatia and posted industry record bows in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic, spooking $335,982 from 42 screens in those markets.

Fox’s “Volcano” has passed its domestic tally with a cume of $50.2 million, firing a good $83,469 from 15 Swiss screens and a soft $48,992 from 23 Danish sites. As Indonesia and Malaysia choked under thick smog from raging bush fires, locals continued to rush to see L.A. sizzle, boosting pic 1% and 14%, respectively, in its sixth lap.

In Australia, UIP’s “Event Horizon” (cume: $7.5 million) took $721,809 from 120 screens behind stayers “Wedding,” “George of the Jungle” and “Men in Black,” but ahead of “Breakdown” on $658,515 from 102 prints, and great previews for “The Full Monty” ($713,273 from 119 cinemas).

Polygram’s “Bean” (cume: $115.5 million) wowed $557,729 from just 19 screens in Hong Kong, while WB’s “Conspiracy Theory” (cume $33.5 million) blasted $750,191 from a top-spot bow on 153 Brazilian prints.

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