Oscar winner hits $154 mil; local pix blossom

Local films snatched the limelight in many key countries in an interesting frame at the overseas box office, while Oscar’s glow pushed the cume of UIP/DreamWorks’ “American Beauty” to $154.3 million after big hikes in several markets.

“American Beauty” jumped 51% in France, where three of the top six pics are native efforts, topped by the Luc Besson-produced “Taxi 2,” which broke all French box office records to nab more than $18 million in its first week of release.

An extensive promotional campaign coinciding with school vacations puts “Taxi 2″ on course to best the $33 million cume of its car chase and capers precursor.

With “Le Gout des Autres” in second place after four frames and “Le Libertin” in sixth, there was little room for non-French fare atop the charts.

CTSI’s “Girl, Interrupted” (cume: $7 million) mustered a tepid turn, while UIP’s “Double Jeopardy” (cume: $47.7 million) actioned $280,560 in its first day from 354 prints in France, Belgium and Switzerland.

It also nabbed $182,925 from 50 theaters in Turkey, where New Line’s “Magnolia” (cume: $16.7 million) mustered just $71,226 from 32 prints.

Teutonic titles tops

The indigenous trend spread to Germany, where “Harte Jungs” (Hard Lads) bowed in the top spot ahead of local sophomore “Otto Part V,” helping distrib Constantin’s comeback to nab 33% of the 2000 box office thus far after a horrid 1999. Meanwhile, CTSI’s first German production, “Anatomie,” is holding up well, although Dietrich biopic “Marlene” dropped out of the top 10 after four laps.

In Spain, local scarefest “El Arte de Morir” (Art of Dying) was the best freshman — and the second hit for Francisco Ramos after “I Will Survive” six months ago — behind “American Beauty,” which rose 30%. “Yoyes,” starring Ana Torrent, took $176,405 from 100 locales — a credible result for a pic concerning Basque separatism.

In South Korea, top rank was won by local pic “Interview,” second spot went to Japan’s “Empire of the Senses” and third place to “American Beauty,” which rose 53%. UIP freshman “Stigmata” (cume: $37.1 million) grossed a so-so $261,890 from 35 cinemas.

‘Lake’ buoyant

In the U.K., where “American Beauty” rose 27%, Fox’s “Lake Placid” surprised everyone by floating to the top spot, ahead of blah bows for WB’s “Any Given Sunday” (cume: $6.1 million), Miramax’s “Mansfield Park” and “Love’s Labour’s Lost,” although Icon’s animated story of Christ, “The Miracle Maker,” took a pleasing $420,000 from 100 stables.

“American Beauty” rose a whopping 83% in Italy, where “Million Dollar Hotel” overcame critical drubbing to post the frame’s best screen average.

In its foreign preem, BVI/Spyglass’ “Mission to Mars” beamed $119,000 from 26 launchpads in Israel.

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