Brits love ‘Harry’

Wizards smash B.O. records; 'Others' awes Oz

It was a weekend of pure B.O. magic in the U.K. as “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (aka “… Sorcerer’s Stone” elsewhere) rustled up an unprecedented £6.6 million ($9.6 million) in sneaks Saturday and Sunday from 1,137 prints at 491 theaters.

That smashed the market’s all-time previews record, beating “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” which earned $3.1 million in 1999. Two other feathers in “Harry’s” cap: The Saturday bounty of $5.1 million stands as the highest single-day gross in the U.K., outrunning “Toy Story 2’s” second Saturday after its platform launch; and Sunday’s $4.5 million ranks as the biggest Sunday ever.

There’s no doubt the Christopher Columbus-helmed fantasy, which preems Friday in Blighty, day-and-date with domestic, will fly past “Phantom Menace’s” opening weekend record of 9.5 million pounds, including sneaks — the only question is by how much.

Elsewhere, the B.O. was a less potent brew, although “The Others” enchanted plenty of Aussies, “Scary Movie 2’s” coarse humor went down well in Germany, and “Jeepers Creepers” reigned in Spain.

Australia’s own Nicole Kidman helped propel the “The Others” to a thrilling $1.4 million debut on 302 screens Down Under. Despite the junior magician’s onslaught in the U.K., “The Others” dipped by a mere 14%, amassing a hefty $7.2 million in 10 days. The chiller fell by a reasonable 30% in its soph session in Mexico, tallying a terrif $5.2 million thus far. Estimated cume is $46 million from just 14 markets.

‘Scary’ spooks Teutons

Horror spoof “Scary Movie 2” captured $4.3 million on 663 in Germany, including sneaks, and fell by 35% in Spain, where it has collared a lusty $4.9 million in 10 days. Its cume reached $54.5 million from 41 territories.

Horror fans turned out in reasonable numbers for “Jeepers Creepers” in Spain, forking out $802,000 on 221, according to one service that tracks 80% of the national B.O. In the U.K., where auds are hot for that genre, “Jeepers” has generated a juicy $8.3 million through its fourth lap.

After stumbling in Japan and Korea, rogue cop saga “Training Day” arrested a respectable $1 million on 232 in France, $718,000 on 177 in Spain and $227,000 on 30 in Belgium.

“Cats & Dogs” is a whisker away from becoming the 17th title to cross $100 million this year, with $99.5 million in the till, boosted by Italy’s so-so $2.3 million in 10 days. Disney’s kidpic “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” continued its European voyage with buoyant bows in Sweden ($480,000 on 134, 25% better than “Shrek’s” entry) and Denmark ($250,000 on 49, on par with “Dinosaur”). “Atlantis’ ” cume cruised to $34 million.

Nicolas Cage’s stab at playing an Italian soldier in WWII doesn’t appear to have convinced many folks in Italy, where “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” limped in with $492,000 on 111.

‘Blonde’ does OK

Reese Witherspoon starrer “Legally Blonde” saw fair debuts in Mexico ($332,000 on 105), Holland ($244,000 on 66) and Brazil ($255,000 on 102), but it was invisible in Argentina. Its strongest market to date is the U.K., where it’s courted $6 million through its third stanza, slipping just 24%.

In its first major offshore market, costumer “The Musketeer,” toplining Catherine Deneuve and Mena Suvari, didn’t translate in Japan, although by limiting the release to 83 screens — where it made a measly $174,000 — local distrib Nippon Herald probably had very modest expectations.

Late today Tokyo time, the producers of “Spirited Away” were due to announce the toon has overtaken “Titanic” to claim the mantle of all-time B.O. champ in Japan in local currency after crashing through the $200 million barrier last month; they were also to unveil a number of international distrib deals.

In its 17th lap last weekend, “Spirited Away” was unseated in Japan’s key cities by local rookie “Between Calm and Passion,” directed by Isamu Nakae.

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