Month off to unusually good o'seas start

The “Jedi’s” triumphant return and generally buoyant preems by “Liar Liar” and “The Saint” helped ensure a lively start to May, usually a quiet month at cinemas overseas.

Steady holdover biz spurred “101 Dalmatians” to a $169.3 million cume and “The Devil’s Own” up to an estimated $66 million. Twentieth Century Fox Intl. reported “Independence Day’s” foreign gross hit $500 million — the second blockbuster in history to reach that peak behind “Jurassic Park’s” $556 million. Roland Emmerich’s sci-fier was propelled to the summit by Japan’s $91.8 million and its last engagements in India ($2.6 million) and Eastern Europe.

Re-issued in 23 territories, “The Return of the Jedi” reaped about $11 million last week, bringing the cume to $13.7 million on top of the original gross of $124.2 million.

The results were dandy in the U.K, Germany, France, Switzerland and Mexico. However, in Spain, “Jedi’s” $523,000 in four days on 180 was overshadowed by “The Saint’s” relatively good $1.1 million in five days on 204, and in Italy (where the “Star Wars” phenomenon wasn’t manifest the first time around), the Fox film took $481,000 in five days on 120, trailing “Liar Liar’s” sturdy $1.5 million in six days on 195.

“The Empire Strikes Back” hauled in $6 million more for a cume of $39.2 million since re-release, $231.3 million all together; and “Star Wars” bagged an additional $3.5 million, for $95.6 million this time, $294.2 million total.

In Australia, where receipts were boosted by a three-day weekend, “Jedi” fetched a pleasing $1 million on 123, behind “One Fine Day’s” spirited $2.6 million in two weeks (easing by 16%) and “The Saint’s” $2.8 million in the same period (slipping just 13%).

“Liar” pulled a fine $426,000 in five days on 63 in South Africa but arrived in Hong Kong a long way behind fellow freshman “Anaconda,” which also had a venomous start in Puerto Rico.

“The English Patient” vaulted to $109 million and had a sparkling launch at five theaters in Japan, where it broadens Saturday to about 110 screens.

“Metro” landed in Indonesia with a beefy $309,000 in six days on 36 and in Israel at $287,000 in three days on 27, in the latter case, Buena Vista Intl.’s biggest live-action debut, beating “The Rock.” The Eddie Murphy headliner has minted a fine $1.4 million in 12 days in Spain and $998,000 in 10 days in South Korea, but had a blah second in the U.K. The cume is $20.4 million.

In Italy, “One Fine Day” (foreign total $18.3 million) had a rousing second lap, while “The Relic” earned a solid $687,500 in six days on 90. But the horror pic bombed in Brazil and hasn’t made an impression in France or Southeast Asia; the score in 14 markets is a slim $6.1 million.

Sidney Lumet’s thriller “Night Falls on Manhattan” (retitled “Apparent Proof”) drew a reasonable $330,000 in four days on 36 in Italy, where local comedy “We All Fall Down” took an encouraging $127,000 in four days on 25 and “Marvin’s Room” made an OK $387,500 in six days on 50.

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