Sony, BVI see green

Majors hit B.O. landmarks o'seas

Most U.S. majors have plenty to celebrate during this festive season abroad, particularly Buena Vista Intl. and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

BVI just set an industry record by parlaying six titles to more than $100 million outside the U.S., and Sony crossed the $1 billion overseas mark for the first time in its history.

BVI’s “Hercules” crossed the $100 million milestone over the weekend after pocketing more than $18 million last week on 2,716 screens in 22 markets.

The other clicks in BVI’s six-pack are “Ransom” (which earned $146.3 million this year; lifetime gross is $172.4 million); “101 Dalmatians” ($144.5 million; $180.2 million all told); “Con Air” ($121.5 million); “Air Force One” ($112.6 million); and “Face/Off” ($113.1 million).

“Those six titles earned more than the $650 million our films grossed in total in 1993, the first year we entered direct distribution,” BVI president Mark Zoradi said. “That (result) is testament to our product and filmmakers, our sales and marketing team, and the strong growth of foreign markets.”

BVI’s grosses topped $1 billion Nov. 1, and Zoradi expects to wind the year at close to $1.3 billion, which would be an all-time industry high.

The “Hercules” cumes include $8.5 million after two weeks in France, $8.3 million through the third lap in Germany, $4 million nearing the end of its third in Spain, and $2.6 million in Italy after platforming in Rome on Nov. 21 and widening to 102 prints Dec. 5.

Sharing in the holiday season spoils are Fox’s crowd-pleaser “Alien Resurrection” and Sony’s “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” together with good-to-great foreign preems by New Line’s “Mortal Kombat Annihilation,” BVI’s “Flubber,” UIP’s “The Jackal” and Warner Bros.’ “The Devil’s Advocate.”

In its last major engagement, “Men in Black” bagged $6.4 million in four days on 261 screens in Japan, a Columbia TriStar record, and its foreign cume climbed to an estimated $296 million. That picture, plus “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “Jerry Maguire” and “The Devil’s Own,” led the Sony overseas charge.

The sci-fi comedy will hit $300 million this week, joining “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” ($374.4 million) in the elite group of films that made more than $300 million.

“Air Force One” dipped by a reasonable 28% in Japan for a strapping $8.3 million in 12 days, and snared a hefty $643,000 in six days on 56 in Argentina.

“Alien Resurrection” ($41.5 million cume) had splendid preems in Belgium ($586,000 on 58), Denmark ($556,000 in five days on 48) and Israel ($128,000 in three days on 20). The Sigourney Weaver starrer has accumulated $13.5 million in four weeks in France, $8.5 million in 13 days in the U.K. and $7.5 million in two weeks in Germany.

Robin Williams vehicle “Flubber” bounced into Thailand with a buoyant $544,000 on 81, comparing pretty well with “The Peacemaker’s” $613,000 in six days on 72.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the round was “Seven Years in Tibet’s” Himalayan $2.6 million haul in six days on 193 in Spain.

Distrib TriPictures mounted a huge campaign that entailed promo visits to three cities by helmer Jean-Jacques Annaud and star Brad Pitt.

David Fincher’s “The Game” (estimated cume $26 million) had a promising start in Spain, where road movie “Airbag” topped $8 million and thus became the top-grossing Spanish film in history.

“Tibet” (estimated cume $23 million) had a mediocre debut in Australia, where freshman “Peacemaker” delivered a solid $1.5 million on 170, and Aussie pic “Diana and Me” (saga of an ardent Princess Diana fan and a paparazzo) tanked. “Peacemaker’s” cume is $52.7 million.

Germans love a ‘Wedding’

Rookie “My Best Friend’s Wedding” enlivened an otherwise downbeat Germany, where “Double Team” did OK and “L.A. Confidential” ($26 million cume) was soft.

UIP’s “Kiss the Girls” ($6.8 million cume) collected a respectable $1.2 million on 157 in France, where local swashbuckler “Le Bossu” (On Guard) generated plenty of media coverage for topliner Daniel Auteuil and a pleasing $2.8 million on 449.

In its world preem in the U.K. and Irish Republic, Polygram’s “The Borrowers” stole a nifty $1.9 million in six days on 356 screens and is expected to trade strongly through the school vacation, which begins next weekend. “Cop Land” got favorable reviews and a fairly good $1.5 million in six days on 245 in the U.K., where Bruce Beresford’s “Paradise Road” stiffed. Fox’s remarkable “The Full Monty” ($117.7 million cume) eased by just 10% in its 15th lap for a tally of $68 million.

BVI’s “Starship Troopers” (three-market cume: $4.8 million) fell by an acceptable 35% after a huge bow in South Korea, posting $2.8 million in 13 days.

“The Fifth Element” reached $198 million and “Bean” ascended to about $167 million, including a boisterous $16.1 million after the third weekend in Italy.

Ridley Scott’s “G.I. Jane” looks certain to overtake its lackluster U.S. gross with $33.9 million in the till overseas to date, and a bunch of markets still to play.

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