'Wedding,' 'Men' boost generally bland lap

In a less-than-exciting frame at the overseas box office, with some European distributors complaining about a soft market, the main heroes were “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “Men in Black.”

In France, Col TriStar Intl.’s gamble of putting “Wedding” (cume: $31.7 million) up against BVI’s “Air Force One” paid off handsomely, with the Julia Roberts comedy clobbering Harrison Ford’s action vehicle by nearly doubling its screen averages and beating it into second place.

This was despite heavy hype built around Ford’s appearance at the Deauville Film Festival. French distribs began wondering whether discerning Gauls are tiring of smash-bang Stateside actioners, while a thrilled CTSI added 105 screens for “Wedding’s” second lap.

As other freshmen steered clear of the duel, Jodie Foster starrer “Contact” fell victim to the wider Euro malaise and dipped 46% in its third frame.

As the French duel ensued, “Air Force One” (cume: $43 million) zoomed BVI’s biggest bow ever in Mexico with $1.2 million on 276.

“Wedding” also waltzed a wonderful $369,000, $238,000, $402,000 and $131,000 from 60, 30, 66 and 10 theaters in Holland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, respectively.

Even in Asia, where Western romantic comedies can have a hard time, P.J. Hogan’s pic smirked excellent results in Japan (behind local animated fare “The Princess Mononoke”) and Taiwan with $696,000 and $272,000 from 90 and 11 cinemas, respectively.

CTSI also stormed around Europe with “Men in Black” (cume: $241.3 million), setting new CTSI records in Italy, Poland and Turkey with $2.9 million, $565,000 and $237,000 from 447, 70 and 42 prints, respectively.

‘Monty’ flashy

Another bright spark of the frame was Fox’s boisterous Brit hit “The Full Monty” (three-market cume: $32.2 million), which revealed a plucky $385,191 and $44,438 from 25 Swiss and six Finnish theaters.

In the U.K., “Monty” held on to the top spot, overshadowing a less-than-spectacular preem by stablemate “Volcano.”

Also in Blighty, “Jackie Chan’s First Strike” failed to pack much of a punch with $210,000 from 54 screens, but that was better than the Jim Wilson-helmed “Head Above Water,” which garnered a dreadful $47,049 from 50 theaters after dire reviews.

Across the water in the Republic of Ireland, BVI’s pickup of Irish gangster pic “I Went Down” roused a pleasing $230,000 from 46 prints.

BVI’s “Face/Off” (cume: $65.4 million) took top spot in Spain with a solid, but not smashing, bow (only just beating “Volcano” in its third frame), while falling only 6% in its second lap after a slightly slow start in Germany and lobbing $70,000 from its first day on 51 Swedish screens.

Also in Spain, “Lolita” had a very soft start, just barely making 10th spot and proving Spaniards are hard to shock. Pic’s prospects were not aided by a critical drubbing at the San Sebastian Fest. One critic said Adrian Lyne’s film was “not good, not bad; just useless.”

Miramax’s “Cop Land” (cume: $2.3 million) also bowed softly in Spain, snaffling $600,548 from 132 sites, while grabbing $117,730 from 31 Dutch theaters and a more rousing $173,915 from 21 Israeli houses.

Solid second weeks in Holland and Portugal saw UIP’s “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” stomp onto a staggering international cume of $327.8 million, with France and Belgium the last territories to release in late October.

Miramax’s “Scream” (cume: $53.6 million) took a fab $17,485 from one theater in Greece, where Polygram’s “Bean” (cume: $111.4 million) staged an excellent top-spot bow with $295,768 from 13 sites, while laughing a top-ranked $197,425 from 30 houses in the Philippines.

In Australia, “George of the Jungle” (cume: $4.8 million) swung wide, elbowing aside the OK foreign preem of Polygram’s “The Game,” while UIP’s “Event Horizon” (cume: $6.6 million) netted $184,700 from 120 screens to add to $119,000 from previews. “Event Horizon” also took an OK $315,539 in its first lap at 25 South Korea sites.

Polygram’s release of Oz pic “Mr. Reliable” stiffed with a paltry $3,717 from five cinemas in South Africa, where WB’s “Conspiracy Theory” (cume: $32 million) took a good $240,688 from 51 screens.

“Conspiracy” also mined a great $319,929 and $84,507 from 29 Israeli and six Lebanon theaters. Pic nabbed a magnificent $522,847 from 20 Hong Kong cinemas, a good $201,021 from 20 New Zealand sites, and overshadowed UIP’s “Kull the Conqueror” ($70,029 from 24 screens) with an OK $321,342 from 75 sites in Thailand.

WB’s “Contact” (cume: $30 million) beamed a superb $320,938 from 15 Singapore screens, $195,710 from 10 Philippines copies and an OK $83,060 from 16 Peruvian sites, while Miramax’s “Sling Blade” (cume: $1.3 million) stiffed with $5,900 from five Swiss screens.

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