'Armageddon' hits $200 million

Using the Venice Film Festival as a springboard, “Saving Private Ryan” launched its foreign campaign last weekend with dazzling debuts in the U.K., Brazil, Mexico and four other territories.

In another frenetic frame overseas, “Godzilla” was big in Euro markets, “Lethal Weapon 4″ wowed Australia, “Dr. Dolittle” conquered Spain and “City of Angels” had brawny bows in Japan and Italy.

With a $9.7 million weekend, “Armageddon” surged past its domestic B.O. to an overseas tally of $201.2 million — the first blockbuster released this year to crack $200 million. “Private Ryan” snared $4.4 million in three days on 423 screens in the U.K., the seventh-biggest opener ever for distrib UIP, 63% ahead of “Forrest Gump’s” entry and 38% better than “Apollo 13′s.”

Brit crits

Most of the Blighty notices were raves, but a few crits faulted the film for portraying the war largely as a conflict between the U.S. and Germany and another characterized it as overly sentimental.

Steven Spielberg’s epic posted UIP’s third-highest bow of all time in Mexico at $1.3 million from 290 screens (behind “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and “Deep Impact”) and in Brazil at $1.2 million on 236 (trailing only “Lost World” and “Mission: Impossible”).

The Tom Hanks starrer nabbed $600,000 in two days on 37 in South Korea, $246,000 on 40 in Portugal, $219,000 on 44 in Poland and $186,000 on 32 in Turkey. All told, the weekend tally was $8.3 million.

“Godzilla” blitzed Germany with $7.6 million in four days on a massive 972 screens, Columbia TriS-tar’s second-best debut behind “Men in Black” and the industry’s seventh-highest.

Roland Emmerich’s opus minted $654,000 on 97 in Austria, $522,000 on 77 in Switzerland, $306,000 on 60 in Denmark, $288,000 on 53 in Finland and $90,000 on 10 in Slovenia.

The weekend score of $11.1 million propelled the mutant monster’s cume to $161.2 million, including Japan’s $34.4 million and Spain’s swell $7.3 million after the third lap.

“Lethal Weapon 4″ took pole position Down Under, notching $1.8 million on 266 including previews, the third-highest opener for a Warner Bros. release (behind “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin”); in New Zealand, it collected a fine $205,000 on 37.

The Mel Gibson/Danny Glover starrer hauled in $6.3 million in 37 countries and the cume hit $112.5 million.

Does a lot

Betty Thomas’ “Dr. Dolittle” registered the fourth-best debut for 20th Century Fox in Spain, collaring $1.7 million on 233, and landed in South Africa with a good $234,000 on 76.

After bagging $4.9 million in 19 markets, the comedy’s total stands at $76.3 million, highlighted by the U.K.’s $28.8 million, France’s $6.3 million and Italy’s $4 million after the third outing.

“City of Angels” raked in a stellar $1.8 million in two days on 153 in Japan, 14% up on “Lethal Weapon 4″ and 140% higher than “The Bridges of Madison Country,” and in Italy delivered a pleasing $537,000 on 82, $993,000 including previews.

The Nicolas Cage/Meg Ryan romance rang up $4.5 million in 26 countries — elevating the cume to $77.4 million, so it’s poised to overtake domestic’s $78.7 million.

“The Mask of Zorro” had a dull debut in Malaysia, consistent with its soft Asian results, but was more incisive entering Chile ($170,000 on 24), Russia ($113,000 on 16) and Bolivia. The Russian figure was Columbia TriStar’s second-highest opener there behind “Godzilla,” which went on to earn a tidy $994,000. “Zorro” has taken $4.8 million in 11 territories.

In Australia, its first major market outside the U.S., “There’s Something About Mary” is showing the same holding power as in the U.S., abating by 3% in its second weekend for a terrif $3.4 million thus far.

“Mulan” ($41 million cume) slipped by 7%, harvesting a promising $798,000 in 11 days in Oz ahead of the spring school vacation which begins this weekend.

“Six Days, Seven Nights” set forth in Argentina with a fair $319,000 on 61 and its cume reached $57.5 million. Stablemate “The Horse Whisperer” fetched a handsome $2.4 million in its second round in France for $5.4 million to date there and $25.2 million overseas.

In a fascinating duel in Singapore, New Line’s “Blade” topped the chart with a robust $246,000 on 22, including previews, just ahead of fellow freshman “Snake Eyes’” $243,000 on 28. In South Korea, “Eyes” has a sturdy $1.5 million after the third weekend.

Warner’s generally disappointing “The Avengers” moved up to $20.1 million in 23 territories after snappy starts in Taiwan ($547,000 on 49), the Philippines ($291,000 on 56) and Thailand ($275,000 on 65).

German auds’ predilection for broad, lowbrow comedies paid off with a decent $1.2 million debut on 357 screens for “Jane Austen’s Mafia” in a journey that has yielded just $4 million in 12 territories.

“Scream 2″ ($64.8 million cume) scared up a moderate $901,000 on 150 in Italy, where the original “Scream” wound with just $3 million.

In the U.K., Polygram’s “Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels” withstood “Private Ryan’s” invasion remarkably well, easing by 9% for a splendid $7.9 million in 17 days.

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