'Mail' delivers o'seas, 'X' crosses century

The festive season saw Warner Bros.’ “You’ve Got Mail” deliver fine foreign preems and BVI’s “Mulan” and “A Bug’s Life” record pleasing increases in several markets last week. Fox also received a fine gift as “The X-Files” became the 17th title of 1998 to gross more than $100 million overseas — with a cume of $100.8 million — and Fox’s fourth (after “Dr. Dolittle,” “Titanic” and “There’s Something About Mary”).

In Australia, “You’ve Got Mail” posted a top-spot bow that was 57% greater than “Sleepless in Seattle” and 54% higher than “French Kiss.” It was CTSI’s third-biggest Oz preem ever behind “Men in Black” and “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

“Mail” beat good Oz debuts for Sony’s “The Mask of Zorro,” Fox’s “The Siege” (cume: $12.6 million) and “The Prince of Egypt” (cume: $48.7 million). (“Zorro” also nailed $657,333 in a 121 screen top spot bow in Argentina and $53,502 from 16 prints in Uruguay for a cume of $112 million).

Also Down Under, UIP’s “Babe: Pig in the City” (cume: $9.3 million) failed to capitalize on the festive season. CTSI’s “Madeline” had a fair foreign preem in Oz, while “Life Is Beautiful” and “Waking Ned Divine” had excellent arthouse bows.

“Mail” (cume: $4.9 million) also retrieved $193,217 from 44 New Zealand theaters, ahead of “The Siege’s” $153,000 from 35 sites and “Egypt’s” $135,464 from 38.

“Mail” triumphed in Italy and led a sterling holiday box office perf in that nation, where exhibs believe the annual admissions total will hit 125 million — the highest tally since the early 1980s.

There were no Italian losers as Medusa’s local megahit “That’s Life” (starring a popular TV comic trio) led the way and is set to outstrip the $25 million the trio made with last year’s “Three Men and a Leg.”

Next Italo hit was Cecchi Gori’s “My West,” a more soulful outing for local comedy phenomenon Leonardo Pieraccioni. “Paparazzi,” the annual lowbrow offering from Filmauro, took the third spot. Also solid was Cecchi Gori’s first animated offering, “Lucky and Zorba.”

Among Italo imports, “Zorro” and “Egypt” gained steam, while Woody Allen’s “Celebrity” led the arthouse pack (with $1.1 million from 65 sites), followed by “My Name Is Joe,” “Central Station” and “Waking Ned Devine.”

In Spain, stayer “Zorro” was the hit of the season, “Mulan” rose 76% and “Egypt” was promising. Fernando Trueba’s “The Girl of Your Dreams” capitalized on its passel of Goya nominations — and reported Berlin Film Fest selection — at the B.O. It’s poised to become the second-highest-grossing Spanish pic ever behind “Torrente: the Dumb Arm of the Law.”

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