O’seas ‘Menace’ passes $300 mil

Jedi closing in on 'T2'; 'Mummy' wraps up Italy

“Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” has blasted past the $300 million mark overseas, making the prequel the 11th most successful grosser of all time outside North America.

“Phantom Menace” minted $18.4 million from 3,347 screens in 27 countries as its cume soared to $307.4 million over the weekend. George Lucas’ epic sped past “Ghost” ($300 million) and “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” ($305 million) and is closing in on “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” ($312 million) and the first “Star Wars” ($337 million).

How high can it go? Based on what’s in the kitty and its stamina in major Euro markets, it has a good shot at reaching or maybe beating “Independence Day’s” $503 million, currently the third-highest moneymaker overseas behind “Titanic’s” $1.2 billion and “Jurassic Park’s” $563 million.

In its soph sessions, “Phantom Menace” fetched $7.5 million on a mammoth 1,005 screens in Germany, falling by 39% and registering a cume of $24.7 million. Pic took in $2.7 million on 355 in Spain for $10.9 million to date (off 37%); and $893,000 on 100 in Sweden, tallying $3.1 million (down only 20%).

Its only opening of note was Switzerland’s $1.1 million on 92 pods, the fourth-biggest in the territory behind “Tomorrow Never Dies,” “Independence Day” and “Jurassic Park.”

“The Mummy” amassed a staggering $4.2 million in three days on 350 in Italy, plus $1.1 million from previews the prior weekend. That nearly doubled “Armageddon’s” bow last September and was well ahead of UIP’s previous weekend record of $2.9 million set by “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” in 1997. Due to a Monday holiday in the U.K., UIP did not furnish weekend updates.

“Runaway Bride” collected a dandy $2.8 million on 295 in Australia (including $1.1 million in previews), some 22% behind “Notting Hill’s” entry, and a spry $376,000 on 27 in Singapore (slightly ahead of “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” but 41% up on “Notting Hill.”)

“South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut” took a smart $2.3 million on 284 in the U.K., including previews. Excluding sneaks, that bettered “Wayne’s World” by 23% and “Beavis and Butt-head Do America” by 110%, Warner Bros. reported.

“Never Been Kissed” romanced a sweet $1.3 million on 250 in the U.K., where “Life” landed with an anemic $611,000 on 197.

In France, where the “South Park” series has had only limited exposure on pay TV, Warner’s pic grossed a modest $1 million in five days on 275, trailing “The Ninth Gate,” a detective thriller toplining Johnny Depp, which ponied up $2.3 million (number of prints unavailable), skewing young and male.

John McTiernan’s “The 13th Warrior” plunged by 44% in France, mustering a tepid $4 million in 12 days, and invaded Argentina with a mediocre $190,000 on 41. However, the Viking tale lifted by 11% in Belgium for a sturdy $421,000 in 12 days.

“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” bagged $1.3 million in two days on 150 in Japan, propelling its cume to an estimated $60.8 million. “The Matrix” made $751,000 from Saturday sneaks on 183 screens, a record preview for WB, slightly ahead of “Deep Impact’s” sneaks, and 142% ahead of those for “The Mummy.” “Matrix,” which debuts Sept. 11 in Japan, has cumed about $190 million.

“Wild Wild West” (estimated cume: $75 million) gave WB its fifth-highest opening ever in Thailand, notching $524,000 on 130 (commanding a huge 71% of the market). “Analyze This” eyed a strapping $315,000 on 35 in Belgium and a fair $197,000 on 37 in South Korea; WB put the cume at about $35 million.

“Entrapment” moved up to $108.4 million, spurred by Japan’s swell $8.8 million through its third weekend (abating by just 20%).

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