'Shakespeare,' 'Payback' top o'seas payback

In a so-so frame at the overseas box office, “Shakespeare in Love,” “Payback,” “You’ve Got Mail” and “The Thin Red Line” provided the lion’s share of the action.

Warner Bros. took “Payback” to Mel Gibson’s home turf Down Under and came away with a top spot $1.6 million from 228 prints, which was on a par with “Lethal Weapon 4″ and beat soft perfs for fellow freshmen UIP’s “Dead Man on Campus” ($116,858 from 91) and “High Art” ($29,329 from 13).

In Spain, “Payback” netted $1.1 million from 204 prints, which was 11% below “LW4,” but ahead of fellow freshmen Sony’s “Urban Legend” ($632,699 from 150) and Polygram’s “The Hi-Lo Country” (with just $41,085 from 33 prints).

‘Payback’ coin

Other “Payback” paydays included South Africa, with $203,018 from 65 sites; Norway ($168,236 from 25); Holland ($385,716 from 82 for WB’s eighth-best bow ever there, but 10% below “LW4″); Portugal ($157,597 from 41 for WB’s 4th best bow there) and New Zealand ($174,797 from 31).

Warner stablemate “You’ve Got Mail” (cume: $98.1 million) posted great top-spot bows in Argentina (WB’s fifth-best bow there and 323% better than “Sleepless in Seattle”) and Chile (WB’s third best bow there and 23% better than “City of Angels”), with $582,205 and $111,095 from 51 and 20 prints, respectively.

BVI’s “A Bug’s Life” (cume: $151.5 million) took another $10 million from Euro holdovers, and retained pole position for a fifth lap in the U.K., where BVI’s “Beloved” tanked with $121,000 from 68 sites and Fox’s “The Thin Red Line” (cume: $25.6 million) went wide to shoot $1.8 million from 252 prints (for a local cume of $2 million). “Red’s” $7.8 million weekend on 2,161 screens in 33 markets included $414,214 and $71,107 from 125 and 20 sites in Mexico and Venezuela. Pic fell 31% and 28% in sophomore seshes in France (local cume: $2.8 million) and Germany ($3 million), respectively, and dipped 40% and 20%, respectively, in its third laps in Spain ($3.1 million) and Italy ($2.1 million).

Bard story

UIP’s “Shakespeare in Love” (cume: $36.5 million) romanced 11 good bows, toplined by $1.9 million from 256 prints in Germany and Austria, where New Line’s “Pleasantville” (cume: $3.1 million) didn’t excite with just $482,773 from 222 prints. “Shakespeare” partook of a strapping $327,701 from 21 Greek houses (93% north of “The Man in the Iron Mask”), $226,581 from 25 Swiss screens and $201,133 from 22 New Zealand cinemas.

In South Korea, “Shakespeare’s” great $292,154 from 26 theaters trailed a thrilling $321,990 from 34 sites for Sony’s “8mm” (which also took $103,130 from 25 in Denmark), and local pic “Swiri,” but finished ahead of a tepid $29,289 from 20 cinemas for Polygram’s release of Robert Altman’s “The Gingerbread Man.”

“Shakespeare” also recited a top-spot $133,519 from 11 Singaporean screens, while charming a good $126,775 and $194,288 from 19 and 31 houses in Denmark and Portugal, respectively, but was weaker in Mexico, with $190,427 from 63 sites.

UIP’s “Babe: Pig in the City” (cume: $30.6 million) porked a reasonable $551,439 from 129 screens in Italy, which was 41% better than the original, and $609,336 from 140 in Japan, where BVI’s “Armageddon” retained top spot in Japan for an unprecedented 13th lap. With a cume of $335.9 million, pic has just passed “Men in Black” as the sixth-most- popular foreign release ever.

Belgian ‘X’-spot

New Line’s “American History X” (cume: $2.4 million) took an excellent $100,057 from 10 sites in Belgium and $967,133 from 95 prints in France. It was in France that UIP’s “Star Trek: Insurrection” (cume: $36.8 million) grossed 15% less than “Star Trek: First Contact,” with $450,916 from 109, but was livelier in Singapore, with $107,632 from 18.

BVI’s “Mighty Joe Young” (cume: $4.9 million) nabbed a top-spot $221,000 from 16 prints in Taiwan, where UIP’s “Pyscho” (cume: $11.5 million) bled a blah $113,507 from 49, but was somewhat better in the Philippines, with $114,390 from 27. Also in the Philippines, Sony’s “Stepmom” ($50.5 million) wept a good $165,053 from 22 prints (frame’s best foreign film bow), but was tepid in Holland and India, with $75,819 and $24,484 from 48 and eight screens, respectively.

Miramax’s “Life Is Beautiful” (foreign cume: $51 million on top of Italy’s $40 million) charmed $69,000 from five theaters in Hong Kong, where UIP’s “Patch Adams” (cume: $3.7 million) took a good $177,248 from 22 prints, but was tepid in Malaysia. In Thailand, UIP’s “The Prince of Egypt” animated a good $346,623 from 55 prints.

Sony’s “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” ($23.3 million) spooked a goodish $568,177 from 152 sites in Brazil, $16,522 and $19,670 from eight and five prints, respectively, in Peru and Uruguay.

Polygram’s “Elizabeth” (cume: $24.7 million) royaled a very good $170,910 and $71,205 from 23 houses in Argentina and Sweden, a good $254,881 and $44,751 from 60 sites in Brazil and 10 screens in Colombia.

Stablemate “The Game” played $199,922 from 22 venues in Brazil. Fox’s “Hope Floats” (cume: $18.4 million) had a rare cause for optimism, with $22,263 from two Egyptian sites.

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