Vidgame-inspired pic hooks auds o'seas

This article was corrected on Aug. 27, 2001.

“Final Fantasy” spent four years moving from script to screen but it took just one weekend to claim top spot in Germany, Italy and Spain and cause “Bridget Jones’ Diary” some heartache in Austria.

In Italy, the computer-animated sci-fier reaped about $277,000 on Friday and hit No. 1 in a field awash with newcomers, including heavyweight “Spy Kids.” Cate Blanchett starrer “The Gift” came out of the gates in second spot Friday.

In Spain “Final Fantasy” reaped about $905,000 from 223 screens in two days. That was double its nearest contender, “The Mexican,” in lap two on 268 screens, and local opener “Lucia Y El Sexo,” which earned approximately $439,000 from 104 screens.

In Germany over three days the vidgame-inspired pic reaped about $1.69 million from 565 moviehouses, ahead of Working Title’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” which took about $1.29 million from 68.

South of the German border, in Austria, the tables were turned. “Bridget Jones” took top spot with about $171,000 from 68 and “Final Fantasy” took $153,000 from 46.

In the U.K., newcomers failed to make an impact atop the totem. “Planet of the Apes” stayed on top of the pile in lap two with a hairy $2.14 million from 440 in two days.

Jennifer Love Hewitt/Sigourney Weaver starrer “Heartbreakers” entered the charts in third with $622,000 from 292 screens over the same period. “Crocodile Dundee III” took fifth with $338,000 from 215 screens, despite a meet-and-greet tour from star Paul Hogan.

France followed Blighty’s example and warmly welcomed “Planet of the Apes.” Its $7.4 million in three days on 742 screens makes it the third-biggest opener for Fox in the territory after “Independence Day” and “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.”

‘Tale’ blooms in Oz

Down Under, homegrown thesp Heath Ledger drove “A Knight’s Tale” to top spot in a four-day cume of about $1.6 million from 185 screens. Other newcomers in that territory failed to ignite the box office. “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” was tuned to the fourth spot, strumming just $530,000 on about 189 screens for Roadshow over the same period. “Blow” did better per screen in fifth, with $458,000 from 127.

Fox’s “Moulin Rouge” was the other opener of note, commencing its Latin American assault atop the totem in Brazil with full weekend takings of $405,000 from 144 screens, double that for Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo and Juliet.” In Mexico on 182 screens, it took third spot with approximately $732,000; it landed in second in Argentina, with $250,000 from 35.

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