‘Mary’ awesome in Oz; ‘Lock’ lively in London

'Mulan,' 'Armageddon' preems also cash in o'seas

Hair gel jokes are all the rage in Australia after the Farrelly brothers’ delightfully crass comedy “There’s Something About Mary” had a riotous debut last weekend in its first major offshore engagement.

Pitched to a very different demographic, “Mulan” had a nifty preem Down Under, while over in Europe, “Armageddon” rolled out in Italy with devastating results and “The Horse Whisperer” charmed Gallic audiences.

Figures in many territories either were unavailable or incomplete due to the Labor Day holiday Monday.

“Mary,” the Ben Stiller/Cameron Diaz starrer, roped in a feisty $1.25 million in four days on 232 screens in Oz, easily the No. 1 title in the market. That was 20th Century Fox’s eighth-highest opening weekend ever in the territory and 10.7% up on “The Full Monty’s” bow.

Adding in the prior weekend’s previews, the total is $1.8 million. Exhibs said word-of-mouth is terrific, and Fox’s laffer is tracking strongly enough to eventually gross about A$15 million ($9 million). Its next major dates are Brazil on Sept. 18 and the U.K. and Argentina on Sept. 25.

“Mulan” notched a pleasing $375,000 on 113 screens, including previews, some 80% of “Pocahontas’ ” opening. The animated Chinese fable is positioned to cash in on school vacations.

“Armageddon” shrank by a reasonable 31% in its third frame in Australia, bringing the total to a sturdy $5.7 million; and in its first weekend of wide release in Italy, it hauled in $1.5 million on 158 screens. That’s based on the key Italo cities which rep about 74% of the total B.O.

The Bruce Willis starrer has collected a total of $1.7 million in Italy, factoring in two weeks of limited release. “Dr. Dolittle” slipped by 8% in its second outing, scoring a jolly $2 million in 10 days.

After lucrative runs in the U.K. and Australia (pocketing $7.2 million through the sixth weekend in the latter), “Sliding Doors” opened in Italy with a lively $270,000 at 31 theaters.

Robert Redford’s “The Horse Whisper” led the field in Paris, selling 103,615 tickets at 49 situations for an estimated gross of $570,000.

Polygram’s London gangland saga “Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels” jumped by 33% in its soph session in Blighty, grabbing $1.8 million on 227 screens and $4.8 million thus far, while “The Horse Whisperer” had a strong second lap, lassooing $4.2 million in 11 days.

But it was a forgettable session for freshmen in the U.K. as “Species 2” managed a meager $645,000 on 258, “The Last Days of the Disco” boogied in with an unexciting $150,000 on 20, and “He Got Game” eked out just $70,000 on 29.

The “Species” sequel made a passable $277,000 on 20 in Hong Kong but tumbled by 38% in France for a blah $1.1 million in 12 days; foreign cume is $10.8 million.

Holdovers sustained the wickets in Germany, paced by “Lethal Weapon 4’s” superb $12.2 million in its fourth frame (abating by 16%), local titles “Lola Runs” ($5.7 million through its third) and “Love Scenes from Planet Earth” ($3 million in 11 days) and super-hit “Armageddon” ($33 million).

Fox’s “The Object of My Affection” debuted in Germany with a middling $505,000 on 196 while “Primary Colors” entered with an OK $224,000 on 74.

In Japan’s nine key cities, “Hard Rain” took pole position with a splashy $661,000 at 20 cinemas. “The Man in the Iron Mask” eased by 24% nationwide for a terrif $16.3 million in 30 days ($113.3 million cume) and the even more resilient “Deep Impact” fell by 28%, tallying $49 million after 79 days. “Impact’s” cume is a lofty $185.9 million.

Joe Dante’s “Small Soldiers” invaded Singapore with a moderate $242,000 on 25, and Malaysia at a fair $140,000 on 43.

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