Launches for meteor, Mel grab top slots

Dynamite debuts by “Armageddon,” “The X-Files” and “Lethal Weapon 4″ fueled another explosive frame at the foreign wickets.

Also generating heat in this bumper summer last weekend were the launches of “The Man in the Iron Mask” in Japan, “Godzilla” in India and Israel and “Dark City” in Australia.

Meanwhile, “The Mask of Zorro” had a fairly good offshore preem in Taiwan, taking $165,000 on 18 screens, placed third behind fellow rookie “Six Days, Seven Nights” ($376,000 on 18) and holdover “Armageddon.”

“Zorro’s” next major tests will be Aug. 27 in Hong Kong and Singapore followed by Mexico on Sept. 16.

The Harrison Ford-Anne Heche romance has grossed $26.5 million overseas and looks set to surge this weekend as it bows in eight markets including Spain, South Korea, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

“Armageddon” reigned as the undisputed No. 1 title abroad, minting $19.5 million on 3,969 screens in 26 markets, propelling the cume to $89 million. Expect this meteor to clock $100 million this weekend.

Record setting

Michael Bay’s juggernaut set a benchmark for a Buena Vista Intl. live-action release in France (beating “Ransom”), grabbing $5.5 million on 635 screens and monopolizing 50% of total ticket sales in Paris.

The Bruce Willis-starrer smashed BVI opening records in Brazil ($2 million on 318, the fourth-biggest bow in industry history), Belgium ($867,000 on 72, the fifth-highest ever) and Singapore ($745,000 on 38).

The one slight disappointment was the U.K.’s entry of $4.5 million on 645, where overall biz contracted by 27% and the holdovers took hits of more than 50% as the Brits enjoyed a rare hot weekend. In Colombia, the $362,000 opener on 80 screens was BVI’s second best behind “101 Dalmatians.”

“The X-Files” collected $7.1 million in eight territories and its cume topped $14 million.

Fox’s film had stellar starts in Germany ($4 million on 673), Spain ($1.4 million on 252, the distrib’s fourth highest debut), Austria ($382,000 on 96), New Zealand ($188,000 on 40) and German-speaking Switzerland ($186,000 on 39).

Richard Donner’s “Lethal Weapon 4″ amassed about $9.2 million on 2,161 screens in 25 countries and the cume vaulted to $38 million.

The Mel Gibson/Danny Glover escapade had potent preems in Argentina with $868,000 on 65; Hong Kong for $815,000 on 33; Mexico at $814,000 on 226 (No. 2 in the market behind “Armageddon,” which has $5 million after its soph session, falling by a reasonable 30%); and Holland at $464,000 on 105. Debuts in Denmark, Portugal and Iceland rang up a combined $709,000.

“Lethal’s” second weekend tallies include Japan’s solid $4.3 million, South Korea’s $1.9 million, Sweden’s $1.4 million and the Philippines’ $1 million.

Man of the moment

Leonardo DiCaprio fever rages still in Japan after “Titanic,” paying off with a handsome $2 million preem on 203 screens for “The Man in the Iron Mask.” Its cume climbed to $98.6 million and will touch $100 million within a few days. “Deep Impact” abated by just 20% in Japan, taking $1.2 million in its eighth frame for a fantastic $36.5 million thus far there, and $165.5 million overseas.

“Godzilla” hauled in an estimated $5.1 million on 2,015 screens in 22 markets, and its total levitated to $114.3 million. The big lizard swallowed $443,000 on 123 in India and $294,000 on 30 in Israel.

Alex Proyas’ Aussie-lensed “Dark City” unspooled in Oz with a sturdy $629,000 on 87. New Line’s pic wound in France with a moderate $2.8 million but corpsed in the U.K. and Spain, and has $7.3 million from 13 markets.

“Sliding Doors” held pole position in Australia, easing by 24% for a terrif $4.2 million in 11 days. The Gwyneth Paltrow-starrer has been a crowdpleaser in the U.K. with $19.8 million in the kitty.

After misfiring in the U.S., gangster spoof “Jane Austen’s Mafia!” ventured Down Under with a tame $186,000 on 75.

“Lost in Space” took off in Mexico with a lively $467,000 on 150 but plunged by 68% after a splendid first week in the U.K. for $9.8 million in 10 days; cume is $32.5 million.

Betty Thomas’ “Dr. Dolittle” snared $3.2 million from holdovers and its cume reached $39.1 million, while “City of Angels” added $2.8 million to its coffers, now standing at $55 million. “Mulan” moved up to $33.5 million.

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