‘Wars’ soars ahead

Prequel tops $150 mil o'seas; new pic biz slow

There were plenty of new releases overseas last weekend, but most barely caused a ripple, so it was left to the holdovers to sustain business.

Among the highlights: The “Star Wars” prequel soared past $150 million abroad, while “The Mummy” wowed France, Belgium and Hong Kong, and “Wild Wild West” saw sturdy lift-offs in four small territories

But the B.O. got no uplift from a bunch of rookies including U.S. flop “Pushing Tin” in Australia and Singapore, “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Mod Squad” in Spain, “Varsity Blues” in Spain and Mexico, and “Never Been Kissed” in Taiwan.

The Anthony Hopkins vehicle “Instinct” eyed a soft $625,000 on 340 screens in France but showed a bit more life in Germany, abating by 18% for a fair $1.9 million in 10 days.

Domestic hit “Big Daddy” had its first foreign try-out in Thailand, taking a tepid $181,000 on 54 screens in a market that isn’t hip to Adam Sandler (“The Waterboy” tanked there also).

‘Phantom’ scores

Overarching the competition, “Stars Wars: Episode One — The Phantom Menace” rang up $16.5 million on nearly 2,400 screens in 24 territories, propelling the cume to $154.3 million. The sci-fier eased by 33% after its all-time record opening in the U.K., scoring a terrif $8.1 million on 464 screens, for $32.7 million in 11 days.

In Japan, George Lucas’ epic dropped by just 18% in its third lap, fetching $4.5 million on 403, lifting the total to a lofty $39.1 million. That’s despite competition from local animated contenders “Pocket Monsters Revelation Lugia,” which amassed $10.5 million in nine days (slipping 20%), and “My Neighbors the Yamadas,” with $3.5 million in the same frame.

Entering Japan, its last major market, “The Prince of Egypt” struggled against the local toons, fetching a pale $758,000 in two days on 217; cume is $117.2 million.

Minting $14.2 million on more than 3,000 screens in 22 countries, “The Mummy’s” total topped $155 million, spurred by France’s superb $4.6 million in five days on a mammoth 648 screens (more than double “Deep Impact’s” debut), Belgium’s $1.1 million on 53 (UIP’s third-highest bow ever behind the two “Jurassic Parks”) and $983,000 in four days on 36 in Hong Kong (the distrib’s fourth-biggest entry).

‘West’ passes test

Warner Bros.’ “Wild Wild West” corralled $305,000 on 30 in Norway (Warner’s third-best opening) and $283,000 on 69 in South Africa (the studio’s No. 2 all-time preem after “The Matrix”). The Will Smith starrer saw muscular launches in German-speaking Switzerland and Iceland, and fell by an acceptable 27% in South Korea for a brisk $2.4 million in nine days.

With $92 million in the till after a $7 million weekend, “Notting Hill” is set to become the eighth title released this year to cross the century mark.

Its stand-out cumes include the U.K.’s $40.3 million, Germany’s $15.5 million, Australia’s $12.4 million, Spain’s $4.1 million after 10 days (off only 18%) and Sweden’s $2.8 million. The worldwide cume towers at $201.9 million.

Jungle story

“Tarzan” raked in $6.1 million from 1,355 prints in 18 territories, elevating the cume to $31 million, paced by a socko $7.6 million after its second outing in Mexico (falling by a reasonable 30%). As testimony to its playability, the king of the jungle abated by 14% in Korea, taking $2 million in nine days, and by 25% in Taiwan for $974,000 in the same period. School vacation in Argentina saw “Tarzan” bounce by 44% to $1 million in its third frame — its best weekend to date — or a total of $3.9 million, outstripping “Phantom Menace” in ticket sales in the same period.

“The Matrix” climbed to $161 million, driven by a $5.1 million weekend from 2,586 screens in 30 territories, helped by Sweden’s $1.6 million in its soph session (tumbling 32%) and Belgium’s $2.1 million after its third lap.

Checking into Germany in second spot behind “Notting Hill,” Miramax’s “She’s All That” grossed a lively $2 million on 379. The teen pic’s cume is a so-so $23.6 million from 23 territories.

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