Oscars foster nice bump for o’seas B.O.

But 'Mask' beats the boat in Italy

The Oscar booster effect kicked in big time overseas last week, delivering rich B.O. spoils for “Titanic,” “As Good As It Gets” and “Good Will Hunting.”

Adding juice to a generally buoyant frame, “The Man in the Iron Mask” had a boisterous bow in Italy, the foreign cume for “Tomorrow Never Dies” topped $200 million and “Sphere” posted moderately good openings in France and Spain.

On the downside, “Primary Colors” garnered few votes in its first offshore engagement in Australia, while “Wag the Dog” continued its unlucky streak abroad, misfiring in Germany and Austria.

The 11 Academy Awards for “Titanic” helped increase the boat’s load by 4% last weekend, tallying $35.9 million from 54 markets, and the foreign cume soared to an extraordinary $815 million; its receipts improved in 28 territories.

Japan leads the pack with $101.4 million (spiking up 23%), followed by Germany’s $98.6 million, France’s $97.5 million and the U.K.’s $92 million (lifting by 14%).

‘As Good’ gets a lift

Remarkably, the best actor and actress awards for Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt hiked grosses for “As Good As It Gets” in 38 of the 43 markets in which it’s active.

Overall, Jim Brooks’ comedy surged by 22%, bagging $9.9 million on 2,190 screens, propelling the cume to $74.3 million. With Japan to open April 11, this click looks headed for $100 million plus.

The standout totals include Germany’s $11.4 million (rising 12% last weekend), Australia’s $9.9 million (up 30%), Spain’s $6.4 million (jumping 29%), the U.K.’s $6.3 million (a 34% leap) and Italy’s $4.8 million.

The Oscar nods for “Good Will Hunting” gave the pic a healthy push in markets such as Japan (tallying $3.7 million through the fourth frame, up 11%), Italy ($2.3 million to date, edging up by 12%) and the U.K. ($8.5 million, up 2%).

All told, the Miramax pic collected $6.4 million at the weekend and the cume vaulted to $45.2 million, excluding updates from a couple of Latino markets.

Besting the boat beast

Randall Wallace’s “Man in the Iron Mask” pulled in a strapping $2.1 million in three days on 203 in Italy (besting “Titanic”), a solid $4.2 million in 10 days in the U.K. (off 23%) and $293,000 in ditto in Israel.

“Tomorrow Never Dies” entered South Africa with a rousing $472,000 in three days on 85, and its cume climbed to $200.6 million, excluding the latest figures from Japan, which UIP could not provide due to a computer glitch.

Barry Levinson’s “Sphere” checked into France at No. 3 (behind “Titanic and Gallic rookie “Une Chance Sur Deux”) with $1.4 million on 374, and in Spain delivered $924,000 on 190. Bows in Belgium, Portugal and French-speaking Switzerland chipped in $530,000 more, while Taiwan has yielded a fine $1.3 million in nine days.

REP released “Primary Colors” Down Under hoping for a positive rub-off from its domestic debut, but was rewarded with a soft $354,000 on 101 — perhaps not surprising after Aussie auds shunned “Wag the Dog” a few weeks ago.

Mike Nichols’ political satire faces its next major tests abroad in May when it rolls out in a crop of markets including Spain and France, plus dates in the Far East and Latin America.

‘Wag’ lags

New Line’s “Wag the Dog” fetched just $461,000 on 107 screens in Germany and Austria after listless perfs on limited screens in the U.K., Norway and Sweden, and a fair $1 million in 17 days in Spain.

“Flubber” arrived in Japan with a so-so $600,000 in two days on 140 and fell by 40% in Germany for a reasonably sturdy $5.3 million in 11 days. Buena Vista’s comedy held well in Spain for $2.7 million in 10 days; cume is $57.2 million.

After a one-week platform in London, Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” expanded to 17 screens in the U.K., bringing the 10-day tally to a handsome $615,000; it goes wide on Friday. The Samuel L. Jackson-Pam Grier starrer took in a promising $460,000 on 75 in Italy and $214,000 on 25 in Sweden; the total is $5.7 million from six markets.

“Anastasia” landed in Italy with $363,000 on 55 and was showcased on one screen in London for an OK $49,000 before it rolls out nationally Friday in the U.K. Fox’s animated pic has harvested $38.1 million thus far.

The Coen brothers’ “The Big Lebowski” abated by 26% in Germany, registering a mediocre $991,000 in 11 days, now on 92 screens. Polygram stablemate “Bean” advanced to $181.2 million, spurred by Japan’s neat $4.5 million in nine days (slipping 33%).

“Mousehunt” trapped a respectable $1.5 million in four days on 579 in Germany and $213,000 in three days on 68 in Austria. “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” corpsed in Oz, to no one’s surprise.

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