Top 8 U.S. pix pull in $82.5 mil in week

The top eight U.S. hits pulled in a combined $82.5 million overseas last week in another brisk session, which relied more on holdovers than on new entries.

Among the debutantes, “The X-Files” drew crowds in France, where the TV series is hugely popular (although word of mouth on the the film is mostly downbeat); “A Perfect Murder” was strong in Spain but so-so in Japan and Germany; and “The Mask of Zorro” wasn’t too dashing in Germany, but packed more punch in Sweden, Portugal and Greece.

Limbering up for its Oct. 29 debut Down Under, “Antz” had an enthusiastic reception at paid previews Oct. 23-25 in 136 theaters.

“Halloween: H20″ did just OK in the U.K., Mexico and Singapore, while Roberto Benigni’s “Life is Beautiful” had splendid preems in France (where the actor-director has a big following ), Belgium and Switzerland. After collecting $38.5 million in its native Italy, the Miramax acquisition has earned about $7 million as it begins its travels around the rest of the world.

‘Ryan’ still ahead

Still leading the B.O. parade abroad is “Saving Private Ryan,” the cume of which soared to $142.5 million after minting $19 million in 17 territories, includ-ing potent bows in Denmark (rated as 65% ahead of “Apollo 13″ and just 5% below “Mission: Impossible”) and New Zealand.

“A Perfect Murder” raked in $1.7 million on 178 screens in Spain, $1.7 million on 312 in Germany and $949,000 in five days on 93 in Japan. One Teutonic booker opined that auds are tired of seeing Michael Douglas in such roles, and the pic also suffered from terrible reviews. At No. 2 overseas, the pic fetched $12.4 million in 32 countries, and the cume hit $35.5 million.

In third place, “Zorro” coined an estimated $12 million, propelling the total to $48.8 million. The Antonio Banderas vehicle’s failure to attract teenagers in Germany mystified one exhib who said, “We thought it would work, but that is cinema for you.”

“The Horse Whisperer” collared $8.2 million for the fourth position and its cume climbed to $80.1 million, highlighted by Germany’s $22.7 million in five weeks, France’s $15.5 million, Japan’s fair $2.6 million in 10 days and Italy’s sturdy $2.2 million in 12 days.

‘Truman’ takes off

Peter Weir’s “The Truman Show” harvested $7.9 million in 11 countries, fueled by lusty launches in Argentina ($558,000 on 40 screens, 103% ahead of “Liar Liar”), South Korea ($534,000 in five days on 35, 96% up on “Liar”) and Norway. Tied this week in fifth place with “There’s Something About Mary,” the Jim Carrey starrer’s cume is $39 million.

The Farrelly brothers’ “Mary” levitated to $54.8 million after a $7.9 million frame in 21 territories, while Fox stablemate “X-Files” earned $7.4 million in 14 markets for eight place and a cume of $82 million. A TV poll in France revealed very mixed reactions, with some patrons griping the film was too hard to follow for those who don’t watch the series, and others saying it was condescending to the cognoscenti.

At No. 7, Joe Dante’s “Small Soldiers” marched along to $20.3 million after drumming up $7.8 million in 16 countries, drawing plenty of youngsters during the school holidays in its U.K. debut and building momentum in France, where kids are on vacation, too. Toy manufacturer Hasbro says the bad-guy soldiers are flying out of stores in Italy, where the DreamWorks’ family pic has taken a healthy $980,000 in 13 days.

“Velvet Goldmine,” Todd Haynes’ celebration of the 1970s glam rock era, opened snappily in London but isn’t catching on in the provinces.

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