Overseas auds Bonding

Latest 007 pic big across Europe, 'Witch,' 'Tarzan' click

In a roaring start to the holiday season overseas, “The World Is Not Enough” drew huge auds Dec. 7-15 in Europe (except in Spain, where it’s underperforming), while “The Blair Witch Project” wowed Australia and “Tarzan” kept clicking with tykes.

Gallic bookers moaned about a severe shortage of homegrown hits, but “Une Liaison Pornographique” (a French/Belgian relationship drama) had a stellar soph session at Italian arthouses, and exhibs in Spain marveled at “Asterix & Obelix’s” massive second turn and local thriller “Nobody Knows Anybody” in its third.

The latest 007 spy saga minted $9.2 million on 780 screens in Germany, (2% higher than “Tomorrow Never Dies” and on par with “The Mummy”), where one programmer said, “It’s about time a real hit shook up the box office and got people out to the movies. James Bond has the ability to do that because it’s a tradition to see the new 007 movie.”

The Pierce Brosnan starrer also set new benchmarks for the series in Austria, Sweden (surpassing “GoldenEye” by 3%) and Denmark (18% up on “Tomorrow Never Dies”).

Overall, Michael Apted’s pic scored $27.4 million in 20 territories, propelling the cume to $81 million, including standout perfs in the U.K., France and Australia. The Bond outing plunged by 50% in Spain, tallying a mediocre $4.4 million in 12 days, suffering from the competition led by “End of Days,” which has raked in $4.9 million in the same period.

The Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle brought in $13.6 million abroad and its total reached $42.1 million. Arnold played second fiddle to Bond in its U.K. launch, where it was mauled by the critics. “Days” set a personal best for Arnie in Singapore but wasn’t as big as “Eraser” in Malaysia and was no match for “True Lies” in South Africa. The millennium thriller took a 41% hit in its second frame in Germany (battered by 007), but has coined a sturdy $2.8 million after 11 days in Korea and an excellent $3.1 million in 13 in Brazil.

Jungle jaunt

“Tarzan” hauled in $16.5 million from 3,265 screens as it rocketed to $169.4 million, spurred by sizzling third laps in France (off 17%, tracking just 20% behind “The Lion King”) and Spain and its second in Italy.

“Blair Witch” (foreign cume: $68.5 million) seized the pole position Down Under from “Toy Story 2,” which eased by just 6% in its second week.

The “Toy Story” sequel smashed the record for an animated opening in Thailand, beating “Tarzan” by 15%, clocking $480,000 in three days at 86 theaters.

Still some ‘Fight’ left

Entering Japan, its last major market, “Fight Club” punched up a muscular $3.7 million in six days on 196, capitalizing on Brad Pitt’s huge following there. David Fincher’s gritty drama had a decent debut in Turkey and with $40 million in the kitty for Fox (which has rights everywhere excluding Italy) could top out at $50 million after rolling out in Eastern Europe and a few Asian markets.

After a reasonably strong run in France and Belgium, Luc Besson’s “The Messenger: Joan of Arc” posted unexceptional results in Japan, where one tradester explained, “It’s not a mainstream film.”

“Runaway Bride” had a fair start in France (below “Notting Hill’s entry) but notched the second-highest live-action bow for a Buena Vista release in Belgium (behind “Armageddon”), taking $846,000 on 65. The Julia Roberts starrer’s cume is $129.5 million.

“American Pie” had an OK opening in France, where crass U.S. comedies usually don’t play well, pushing its cume to about $59 million. “Being John Malkovich” garnered great reviews and word-of-mouth in France, helped by the Gauls’ affection for the topliner, unlike Italian auds who have not warmed to the pic.

“The Sixth Sense” moved up to $177.4 million, ahead of year-end playmates in Germany, Belgium and South Africa. However, “Random Hearts” isn’t generating much more interest abroad than it did at home, cuming $25.2 million after getting a tepid reception in Korea.

In the U.K., Steven Soderbegh’s “The Limey” did steady biz on limited release, while two local entries, Peter Greenaway’s “8-1/2 Women” and Julian Farino’s “The Last Yellow” both tanked.

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