Apes, Kidman provide distraction

Int'l box office healthy after attack on US

While many folks overseas stayed riveted to their TV screens last weekend following events in the U.S., “Planet of the Apes,” “The Others” and “Moulin Rouge” provided compelling diversions and the B.O. attrition in some markets was no worse than normal for this time of year.

With hindsight, last week may not have been the best time to launch the terrorist-themed “Swordfish,” yet the John Travolta/Hugh Jackman starrer took the top spot in France, Belgium and Holland, albeit with unexceptional numbers.

But “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” probably did not suit the prevailing mood, resulting in mediocre preems in Australia, New Zealand and German-speaking markets.

The “Apes” remake conquered Italy, capturing $1.9 million on 366 screens, and notched an all-time opening record in Russia with $735,000 on 60, including previews. The frame’s top earner, Fox’s pic commanded $8.6 million from 4,091 engagements in 36 markets, hoisting cume to $156.3 million. Stellar totals include Japan’s $34 million, the U.K.’s $23 million, France’s $16.6 million, and, through their third laps, Germany’s $11 million and Spain’s $10.1 million.

Nicole Kidman starrer “The Others” scared up a neat $1 million on 200 in Italy (trailing “Apes”) and reigned in its soph session in Spain, snaring a superb $3 million, down just 9%. Ten-day tally is $8.6 million.

‘Moulin’ rolling in U.K.

“Moulin Rouge” ruled in the U.K., ringing up $2.7 million in its second stanza (off 15%), bringing the market total to $8.3 million. Fox’s tuner whistled up an OK $252,000 on 20 in Hong Kong, behind fellow frosh “Scary Movie 2” and local pic “Horror Hotline: Big Head Monster.” “Moulin’s” cume hit $34.9 million.

Actioner “The Fast and the Furious” entered Blighty, its second major territory after Mexico, clocking a solid $2.4 million on 414 — 58% bigger than “The Mexican” and 37% up on “Double Jeopardy.”

Warner/Roadshow’s “Swordfish” stole $1.6 million on 501 in France, $337,000 on 80 in Holland, $318,000 on 47 in Belgium and a so-so $164,000 on 50 in Sweden. Cume is $39.1 million, with a bunch of markets including Germany, Japan and Taiwan still ahead.

“A.I.” materialized in Germany at No. 2 with $1.9 million on 670, fractionally up on “Eyes Wide Shut” but no match for the fourth outing of “Bridget Jones’s Diary” (whose market cume is a fab $11.9 million).

‘A.I.’ crosses century mark

Steven Spielberg’s dark sci-fier ranked first in a soft weekend in Oz with $831,000 on 193 and in New Zealand and German-speaking Switzerland; it took the second spot in Austria. Cume reached $104.2 million — the 16th title to cross $100 million this year — helped by Brazil’s $2.3 million and Argentina’s $867,000, both in its second turn.

“The Princess Diaries” fetched an encouraging $712,000 on 214 Down Under, bigger than “Inspector Gadget” and “George of the Jungle,” positioned to capitalize on the school vacation that begins in two states this weekend. Disney’s pic has taken a fair $425,000 in 19 days in Taiwan.

“A Knight’s Tale” led the field in Mexico (where the B.O. was flattened by Independence Day celebrations) with $919,000 on 280 and entered the Philippines and South Africa at No. 1, but pic was a lowly fifth in Belgium. The medieval romp eased by 23% in Germany, scoring a solid $4 million in 11 days, and by 23% in Spain, for $2.4 million in 10 days.

The Japanese-produced “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” launched in its home market with a moderate $2 million in two days on 256, augmenting its $40.3 million gross from the rest of the world outside North America.

(John Hopewell in Madrid and David Rooney in Rome contributed to this report.)

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