‘Dame,’ Madonna, Mel spice up o’seas B.O.

It was Mel Gibson and Madonna to the rescue of some flagging foreign markets over the weekend, as “Ransom” delivered big paydays in four territories and “Evita” captivated the U.K.

Another highlight: The unstoppable “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” crossed the exalted $200 million mark after pocketing a hefty $10.3 million abroad. Through Sunday the cume is $201.1 million, on the verge of overtaking “Pocahontas’ ” $205.6 million and “Beauty and the Beast’s” $207 million. It’s likely to wind with in excess of $225 million, which will rank it as Disney’s third-most popular animated pic ever, behind only “The Lion King” and “Aladdin.” “Hunchback” reigned in France for the sixth consecutive weekend, grossing $3.5 million for a splendid $37.2 million to date.

Sylvester Stallone’s unquestionable drawing power overseas helped propel “Daylight’s” tally to a respectable $59.8 million, paced by Japan’s solid $9.8 million in 16 days, France’s $7.1 million in 19 days and the U.K.’s $4 million in 11 days (off 25%). “Independence Day” continued as the big gun in Japan, climbing to $53 million through the fifth weekend; foreign total is $454.4 million.

‘Ransom’ record

Ron Howard’s “Ransom” stormed into Germany with $5.5 million on 630 screens, an all-time Buena Vista Intl. record, and that market’s biggest January preem ever. Adding muscular bows in Austria, Indonesia and Po-land, the Gibson headliner hauled in $8.3 million over the weekend, $36.6 million cume.

“Evita” rang up a lusty $3.3 million on 336 in the U.K., bringing the total to $4 million following the two-week solo run in London. Madonna’s musical has collected $8.6 million in eight European markets, excluding the week-end figures in Italy, where there was a public holiday Monday.

U.K. receipts shot up by 37%, also spurred by “Sleepers’ ” strong $2.2 million debut on 265, and a fine fourth frame by “101 Dalmatians,” which has devoured $22.1 million.

“Dalmatians'” earned $5.7 million at the weekend abroad, $44.6 million thus far, with most of Europe and Japan to come.

Rave notices greeted Scott Hicks’ “Shine” in the U.K., fetching a smart $230,000 on 23 screens (about level with “Emma’s” opening, which went on to become a sizable hit there) and will gradually build to more than 150 screens.

With $48.6 million in the till thus far, “Sleepers” is poised to streak past its domestic take of $51.5 million. The cumes include $11 million apiece in France and Italy, Spain’s $5.4 million and Taiwan’s terrif $1.2 million in six days on 32.

‘Jam’ jells

“Space Jam” reached $22.9 million, led by Australia’s $5 million through the fourth lap, and excellent second-weekend scores of $2.9 million in Brazil, $2.7 million in Mexico and Argentina’s $1.1 million.

In a generally soft session Down Under, Baz Luhrmann’s “Rome & Juliet” led the pack with $963,000 in its second outing on 158 (sliding 21%, $3.8 million total) while “Daylight” abated by 38% for $3.6 million in 11 days. Rookie “The Mirror Has Two Faces” took a moderately good $605,000 on 108 including previews, while fellow frosh “A Very Brady Sequel” took in a soft $269,000 on 83. Barbra Streisand’s meller bowed in Argentina with a bright $276,000 on 38, and after 10 days in Brazil has a hearty $1.2 million.

“Michael Collins” fell by 24% for a fair $1.2 million in 11 days as one exhib opined that Aussie auds aren’t much interested in political films; the Liam Neeson starrer has resonated much more effectively in the U.K. and Ireland ($10.6 million) and Italy ($5 million). Word of mouth lifted “Jack’s” second-weekend takings in Oz by 3% for $2.1 million to date. Its cume is a tepid $25.2 million, still to play in Germany and Japan.

“Romeo & Juliet” expanded to 43 prints in its second lap in Korea, advancing to a sweet $2.4 million, and landed in Mexico with a fair $267,000 on 110. “Jingle All the Way” reached $56.5 million. “The First Wives Club” topped $40 million, highlighted by $11.1 million in 25 days in Germany. “Dragonheart” hit $50.8 million, includ-ing a reasonable $3.3 million in 25 days Down Under, and a snappy $361,400 in four days on 33 in New Zealand — the third-biggest entry by a Universal pic there. “Star Trek: First Contact” has amassed $30.8 million, powered by Germany’s $13.4 million in 19 days (off 43%) and the U.K.’s $11.9 million in 24 days.

“Matilda” has harvested an OK $18.2 million from its wave of releases (the second comes at Easter), and “Maximum Risk” has $14.1 million in 16 markets. “High School High” has garnered $6 million in 10 territories, most notably $4.5 million in Germany.

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