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‘Toy,’ ‘Beauty’ tops

In erratic o'seas market, only a few pics score

There was no shortage of new releases overseas last week, but few did hit biz, and some performed erratically, underlining again how audience tastes and other factors such as the competitive environment can have a huge bearing on results.

If there’s a model of consistency, it’s “American Beauty,” which had stellar debuts in Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, Sweden, South Africa and several small Latino markets.

All told, Sam Mendes’ dark comedy minted $15.9 million in 27 countries, propelling the cume to $87.8 million. However, Italo exhibs were surprised the pic didn’t milk any visible advantage from its multiple Oscar noms.

“The Talented Mr. Ripley” slayed auds in Australia, but was just OK in the U.K. and unexceptional in Sweden and Spain. British tradesters noted good reviews and publicity from the London preem attended by Matt Damon and Gwyneth Paltrow did not ignite as much interest as they’d hoped.

Tim Burton’s “Sleepy Hollow” notched fair openings in Germany (where, amid the distraction of the carnival season in Catholic regions, one booker lamented, “There isn’t anything that’s really pulling in crowds,”) Japan and Austria, but looked smart in Hong Kong. Mandalay’s Headless Horseman captured about $10 million abroad as it ascended to an estimated $63 million.

‘Toy’ take terrif

Still the dominant title abroad, “Toy Story 2” generated $22 million in 26 territories as its cume soared to $164.3 million, now the fourth animated blockbuster to surpass $400 million globally after “Aladdin,” “The Lion King” and “Tarzan.”

The Disney/Pixar pic continued on a tear in the U.K., surging to $53.6 million nearing the end of its fourth lap, ranking as the seventh-highest earner ever there. By March 6, Woody & Co. will have overtaken “Men in Black” and “Independence Day” to seize fifth spot among the all-time U.K. grossers.

“The Beach” lapped up $15.8 million from preems in 10 territories and holdovers in 15, spiking the cume to $46.1 million. Danny Boyle’s meller had moderately good entries in Italy (No. 2 behind “The Blair Witch Project,” which has raked in a terrif $8.3 million in 12 days), Spain and Argentina, and was livelier still in Mexico. Bad word of mouth resulted in steep second-week falls in France and Germany, but it’s holding better in the U.K.

“The Hurricane” climbed into the ring in Spain and Norway, its first offshore engagements, and looks headed for an early K.O. in both markets — indicating how serious, issue-based U.S. films can face tough sledding when they cross the Pond.

In Japan, Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia” had its first major market tryout, posting decent figures at No. 2 behind “Sleepy Hollow,” while the “The Astronaut’s Wife” barely got off the ground, consistent with its fate elsewhere in a dismal foreign run that has scraped up just $6 million to date.

“The Green Mile” ($18.2 million from 13 markets) platformed superbly at seven theaters in London and opened well in Denmark; the Tom Hanks starrer had steady third outings in Germany and Oz.

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