O’seas B.O. slows

Attacks in U.S. dim attraction of cinema

Given the cataclysmic events in the United States, cinema attendance understandably dipped midweek in many overseas markets as people stayed glued to their TV sets or lost the appetite for light entertainment.

In Italy, Warner Village Cinemas confirmed a drop of at least 25% on Tuesday, while Medusa Cinema said biz was off by 50% compared with the previous Tuesday, compounded by a Rome-Madrid soccer match that night. One Aussie booker reported takings on Thursday were 7% below the previous Thursday, not the upswing he expected from that day’s launch of “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” and “The Princess Diairies.”

However, there were signs the impact on moviegoing will be short-term. Warner Village noted that Wednesday’s B.O. was back to normal, and one Gallic exhib didn’t expect any lingering effect, opining, “In France, movies aren’t necessarily tied to politics. But will this affect almost everything else? Definitely.”

Even before the crisis, biz was fairly soft in a lot of territories, as most of the summer’s hits have virtually played out or have followed the U.S. pattern of opening big then fading fast. Still, there were some potent performances. “Moulin Rouge” had a splendid bow in the U.K., its first major Euro market, after a massive publicity buildup, and saw buoyant third laps in Mexico and Brazil. The tuner’s cume hit $30.5 million. Appealing to a different age group, “Scary Movie 2” was fairly feisty in Blighty.

Kidman’s the man

“Moulin’s” Nicole Kidman also gave Spain a mighty fillip, as “The Others” posted the third-highest opening weekend ever in that market behind the “Planet of the Apes” remake and “Star Wars: Episode I — Phantom Menace.” The chiller directed by Alejando Amenabar also set a new benchmark for a Spanish-backed pic, eclipsing “Torrente 2’s” debut in March.

The frame’s top earner, “Planet of the Apes,” drummed up $14.1 million from 4,138 engagements in 34 markets, hoisting its cume to $146.8 million. Tim Burton’s pic experienced typical drops in its soph sessions in Germany and Spain, in the latter torpedoed by “Others.”

“A.I.’s” cume levitated to $97.8 million, and by today will rank as the 16th hit to cross $100 million this year. Spielberg’s sci-fier conjured up $1.4 million in six days on 330 in Brazil (in admissions, an all-time WB record) and notched Warner’s second best ever in Singapore; it was less alluring in Argentina although on par with “Saving Private Ryan.”

‘Jurassic’ ages

In its soph sessions, “Jurassic Park III” skidded by 45% in Australia and 49% in Italy, and its foreign total reached $162.2 million.

New Line’s “Rush Hour 2” had rollicking bows in Taiwan and Greece, but was relatively ho-hum in Belgium and dropped sharply in its second turn in France. “Une Hirondelle a fait le printemps” (One Swallow Made Spring), the saga of a Parisian woman who quits the big city to become a farmer, drew admiring notices and hefty auds in France. A multiprize winner at the Cannes film fest, “The Piano Teacher” played strongly across the country in its Gallic debut, surprising one exhib who saw it as primarily for cinephiles.

In its offshore preem, actioner “The Fast and the Furious” didn’t hit top gear in Mexico, hindered by the absence of marquee names and competition from fellow frosh “Original Sin,” which got some mileage from co-star Antonio Banderas, but wasn’t marvelous.

“A Knight’s Tale” entered Germany, Spain and Austria at a leisurely gait. Topliner Heath Ledger is known but not a proven draw in Spain, and one Teutonic booker says that while the rock soundtrack is “great for those of us who grew up in the 1970s, it just doesn’t do much for today’s kids; I think people here don’t get it.”

‘Dance’ tapping out

“Save the Last Dance” shone in Italy, handled by indie Eagle, ringing up one of its strongest debuts in a foreign career that has generated an underwhelming $32.3 million, with only a handful of markets ahead. Romantic drama has been OK in Germany, the U.K. and Australia, but a nonevent most everywhere else.

Using the Venice fest as a springboard, a slew of films launched in Italy. “Light of My Eyes,” an Italo drama about two emotional castaways in Rome, divided the critics but is pleasing auds. Clare Peploe’s period comedy “The Triumph of Love” had a winning start on 21 prints and expanded to 68 on Friday. “John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars” is unlikely to reach out beyond the director’s die-hard genre fans, and Israeli drama “Eden” had a lukewarm reception.

(David Rooney in Rome, John Hopewell in Madrid, Liza Klaussman in Paris, Ed Meza in Berlin and Lee Simkins in London contributed to this report.)

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