But 'Speed' holds steady, 'Black' bows hot

The summer B.O. fires burned a little less brightly in some markets last week due to a shortage of new releases, while holdovers “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Con Air” kept smokin’.

Fox’s “Speed 2: Cruise Control” steamed along with much stronger figures than its domestic level and “Men in Black” posted several red-hot debuts.

“Liar Liar” climbed to $99 million, and by today will rank as the 10th title to cross $100 million abroad this year. Considering 15 pictures surpassed that milestone in 1996, it’s a safe bet the $100 million club will be bigger this year. The Jim Carrey comedy grossed a lively $403,000 in six days on 30 in Finland and $1 million in 13 days in Sweden.

“Lost World” vaulted to $171 million, powered by a whammo $25.4 million in 13 days in the U.K., slipping just 21%, and a huge $37.8 million after 20 days in Japan, down 16% despite Typhoon Rosie, which battered the Osaka region and depleted ticket sales.

“Hercules” caused barely a ripple in Japan as it registered $700,000 in two days on 96 screens, overshadowed by the dinosaurs and Nippon click “The Phantom Princess,” reviving memories of the time (before “Beauty and the Beast”) when Disney animated fare struggled there.

But distrib BVI was hoping that adding 65 dubbed prints to the subtitled versions in the second weekend would perk “Herc,” which has picked up a fine $22.5 million from 13 territories.

“Batman & Robin” hit $86.3 million after reasonably good sophomore sessions in Mexico (tallying $3.7 million to date), Hong Kong ($2 million), Singapore ($1.2 million) and Belgium ($586,000).

The Batpic was tracking very well before its bow Saturday in Japan, where “Return of the Jedi” followed a typical trajectory with $1.6 million in four days on 135, lower on the radar than its predecessors. “Jedi’s” foreign cume since reissue is $37.7 million, compared with “Star Wars’ ” $115 million ($14.8 million in Japan) and “The Empire Strikes Back’s” $55 million ($6.7 million in Japan).

The “Speed” sequel cruised into France in pole position, nabbing $3.3 million on 448 and was No. 2 in Spain (behind Polygram’s comedy “Bean”) with $1.6 million in five days on 215.

Jan De Bont’s pic bowed in Belgium with a snappy $672,000 on 70 and Sweden with a mild $434,000 in five days on 79, and reigned in Germany with $9 million in 21 days. Its 17-market cume reached $33 million. The Sandra Bullock starrer has notched Fox’s second-highest openings of all time (behind “Independence Day”) in South Korea, Holland, Taiwan, Israel and South Africa.

“Men in Black” grabbed $882,000 on 71 in Holland, $186,000 on 44 in Portugal (in both a Columbia TriStar record) and $302,000 on 38 in Venezuela (an all-time high). The sci-fi comedy’s cume is $28 million in 14 markets.

“Con Air” topped $72 million after flying into Taiwan with a sturdy $1 million in four days on 11 screens (the third-highest BVI live-action preem behind “Die Hard With a Vengeance” and “The Rock”) and South Africa at $428,000 in five days on 82. The actioner eased by an acceptable 29% Down Under for $4 million in 14 days, where the Bette Midler vehicle “That Old Feeling” and “Fools Rush In” both fizzled.

“Volcano” erupted in Thailand with $876,000 in four days on 100, Fox’s second-highest debut ever there behind “Independence Day.” Its seven-territory total is $19.1 million.

“Jungle 2 Jungle” had its best opening to date in Germany, with $2 million on 399, scoring especially well in the eastern region where schools are on vacation. Teutonic auds seem attracted to physical comedies that don’t connect elsewhere, but they shunned Howard Stern biopic “Private Parts.”

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