U.K., France chew oats

'West' best in soft sesh; 'Menace' moves Japan

The better openings by U.S. films overseas last week did not scale great heights, while a sizable number of other debutantes barely got off the ground.

Typifying a sub-par frame, “Wild Wild West” roped in a sturdy but not spectacular $3.9 million on 425 screens in the U.K., the sixth-highest bow for a Warner Bros. film there; in other territories such as France, the Will Smith starrer notched the distrib’s No. 1 or No. 2 opener of all time. Excluding previews, “West’s” weekend gross was below the fifth lap of the “Star Wars” prequel (which towers at $62.3 million) and the third round of “Austin Powers” sequel (tallying $28.8 million).

The sci-fi oater’s cume hit $55.2 million after harvesting $12.4 million on 3,423 screens in 30 countries. Barry Sonenfeld’s pic minted an estimated $350,000 on 55 in Argentina and a moderate $320,000 on 30 in Hong Kong. After a monster bow in France, pic plunged by a worrying 51%, but has garnered a terrif $10.5 million in 12 days, and retained pole position for the third straight weekend in Germany, topping $12 million.

On the brink

“Entrapment” stole a reasonably good $2.1 million in two days on 177 in Japan, its last major engagement, sending the cume to $97.1 million; by next weekend, the Sean Connery starrer will rank as the ninth title to reach $100 million overseas this year.

Jon Amiel’s heist movie placed third in Japan behind “Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace,” which jumped by 28% in its sixth orbit, benefiting from the Obon vacation, to peak at $71.1 million; and “Eyes Wide Shut,” which improved by 26% in its third outing for a superb $12.5 million to date.

“Phantom Menace” scooped up $10 million in 26 territories as its cume soared to $233.7 million ahead of next weekend’s launches in Germany and Spain. In tiny Iceland, George Lucas’ epic smashed the industry opening record, snaring $134,000 at just six cinemas, beating previous champ “Independence Day” by 40%. Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes” suffered from adverse word of mouth and audience walkouts after a lusty preem in Australia, falling by 52% for $3 million in 11 days.

Millions for ‘Mummy’

“The Mummy” uncovered $6 million in 17 countries, highlighted by Thailand’s socko $1.3 million in four days on 121, 73% higher than “Mission: Impossible.” The cume rocketed to $197.1 million and is a few days away from touching $200 million.

“Notting Hill” cruised into France with a fair $580,000 in five days on 188, but distrib Universal Pictures Intl. noted it opened in mostly small provincial theaters. The romantic comedy was comparatively stronger in Belgium, seducing $1.1 million on 58 (including previews). All told, Roger Michel’s pic coined $6.2 million, and its total ascended to $126.1 million.

“Runaway Bride” romanced a sweet $354,000 on 32 in Korea, 32% better than “Notting Hill” and double “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” but dropped by 49% in its soph session in Hong Kong, tallying $1.2 million. Blame the shortcomings of some of the frame’s rookies on cultural differences between the U.S. and non-English speaking markets. Hence Adam Sandler’s lack of star presence in Asia saw “Big Daddy” post mediocre results in Malaysia and Taiwan after so-so perfs in Singapore and Thailand.

‘Water’ level low

Sandler’s “The Water Boy” had a token release in just seven theaters in Japan’s nine key cities and has scored strongly only in Australia and the U.K., which together account for nearly 50% of its $28.1 foreign cume; it’s yet to play in Italy and a couple of Latino territories.

In its first major market, the Eddie Murphy vehicle “Life” landed in Australia with a respectable $759,000 on 160, although one exhib forecast it will fade fast, as black-themed films do not resonate Down Under.

“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” (cume: $50.6 million) limped into Mexico with $365,000 on 185, overwhelmed by the competition led by “Inspector Gadget” $681,000 on 210, a record for a Disney live action release, 17% up on “George and the Jungle.” However “Gadget” didn’t excite in Taiwan, a teen- and young adult- dominated market.

In Mexico, “Muppets in Space” had a pint-sized preem, while Fox’s local pick-up “Sex, Shame and Tears,” a yuppie comedy, has fetched a remarkable $8 million through its ninth round.

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