Dinos chill out, 'Apes' open strong in Asia

Scorching weather rather than hot competition clipped the wings of the flying dinosaurs and the B.O. in general in Europe last week, while Tim Burton’s primates were let loose in three Asian markets, posting figures that were muscular but didn’t quite ape the domestic launch.

Universal/UIP’s “Jurassic Park III” fetched a bright but not stellar $2.7 million in six days in Spain, where one booker lamented that none of the major U.S. films released there this summer — including “Shrek” and “Pearl Harbor” — has gone through the roof.

The dinos did snack on a tasty $2.4 million in five days on 52 screens in Taiwan (where the B.O. was buffeted by a typhoon) and $932,000 in eight days on 83 in the Philippines, 10% better than “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”

Mirroring the U.S. pattern, Joe Johnston’s adventure plunged by 51% in the U.K. (exacerbated by the weather), by 46% in Brazil (coining $2.7 million in 12 days) and 41% in Mexico (a nonetheless socko $7.6 million in the same frame). But the dinopic sported stronger legs in Argentina (minting $3.6 million in two weeks, off 17%) and South Korea ($4.8 million in 13 days, down 37%). Its foreign cume raced to $43.9 million after hauling in $18.2 million from 1,839 engagements in 16 markets.

Monkey do

“Planet of the Apes” commanded $8.4 million in five days on 326 in Japan, including sneaks, although its $5.2 million weekend didn’t rank among Fox’s top 10 bows in that market. The “Apes” remake devoured $869,000 on 25 in Hong Kong (Fox’s seventh-highest debut there) and $666,000 in six days on 125 in Thailand (the distrib’s fourth best and the industry’s second biggest this year).

Toho’s animated fantasy “Spirited Away” is still the hottest ticket in Japan, selling a phenom 3.3 million ducats in 10 days, clocking $34.2 million and tracking 75% ahead of helmer Hayao Miyazaki’s “Princess Mononoke.”

Against those heavyweights, “Pearl Harbor” hung in well in its third lap, advancing to $26.7 million, surpassing “Air Force One” as BVI’s second-highest live-action grosser in Japan. An ironic note: Japan has just outgunned Germany to rank as the WWII epic’s most lucrative market. “Pearl’s” cume climbed to $185.5 million after a $9.7 million frame.

Also in Japan, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” had a resilient fifth round, amassing a socko $57.7 million.

‘Shrek’ strong

“Shrek” vaulted to $124.1 million, powered by Argentina’s $1.3 million opener on 62 and handy ongoing biz in the U.K., France, Germany, Mexico and Spain. With $9.2 million in the till in South Korea, the ogre is now the all-time animated champ there after wresting the crown from “The Lion King.”

In its first foreign tryouts, “Scary Movie 2″ topped the charts in France and Israel, in the former about 25% below the original “Scary.” Said one Gallic booker, “It was a very good opening, considering the weather and that the last week in July is traditionally the slowest here.” But, he added, “this is one of those event films for adolescents, which teens go straight out and see, giving it good numbers in its first week, but which drops off quickly.”

“Bridget Jones’s Diary” clicked in Australia, Singapore and Denmark — outpacing “Notting Hill” in each case. Cume hit $83.7 million from only 11 territories.

After so-so runs in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore and blah results in the Philippines, “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” redeemed itself with sturdy outings in Australia, Korea and New Zealand.

‘Dogs’ days

“Cats & Dogs” whistled up a rousing $957,000 in six days in South Korea — in Seoul, opening 19% ahead of “A Bug’s Life” — but fell sharply in its second turn in Germany. “Der Schuh des Manitu,” which spoofs 1960s German Westerns, kept galloping in its second lap, attracting young and old viewers. Of the rookies in Germany, Johnny Depp starrer “Blow” garnered strong reviews and a decent turnout, while “Someone Like You” and “Down to Earth” crashed.

“Dr. Dolittle 2″ (a modest $26.6 million cume from 28 markets) and “Swordfish” fared reasonably well in the U.K., considering most folks were enjoying outdoor pursuits.

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