Wraps boffo biz as o'seas bows open summer

With “Pearl Harbor” waiting in the wings, “The Mummy Returns” has officially rung in the popcorn season, charging into 21 international territories last week as the trailblazer of Hollywood’s big-budget summer assault overseas.

In a generally soft overseas sesh, pic’s $41.1 million international cume from 3,784 screens in 24 territories includes $823,000 from 703 on opening day in France.

The original “Mummy” took $258 million internationally. Despite a slew of opening weekend records, U.S. dollar returns for the sequel are expected to be 20% down from the first installment due to the currency exchange rate.

In Australia the Brendan Fraser/Rachel Weisz headliner opened to boffo numbers but fell 42% in week two to $2 million. Cume in Oz is $5.7 million for the UIP/Universal release.

In Italy, summer sunshine sent potential cinema auds scrambling outdoors, leaving “Mummy” to remain atop a drab batch, including Kim Basinger starrer “Bless the Child.”

But “Mummy” coaxed more than a million sun-worshipping Germans back to cinemas last week to deliver the best May opening in history. As the only new release in the top 10, it sent exhibs into paroxysms of excitement amid otherwise barren multiplexes.

In Spain, the f/x epic was given a wide berth by distribs fearful of being squeezed in its clutches.

Another disappointing week in France surprised an industry expecting a post-Cannes B.O. boost; the tremendous first quarter is slipping into memory.

Reps for Italian director Nanni Moretti’s heart-wrenching “The Son’s Room,” top prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival, were disappointed by the post-fest turnout. Distrib’s experimental release of a French language version of the pic didn’t appear to boost attendance. On the contrary, the film’s original Italo version seems to be the more popular choice for French cinemagoers.

Sun shines in U.K.

The landscape is altogether brighter across the English Channel, where the warm weather did not deter auds, which have continued flocking to cinemas since release of “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” helping nudge April admissions to the highest mark there in 26 years. With a public already hellbent on pics, “Mummy Returns” took an excellent $10.5 million in six days — $1 million more than the original.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s directorial debut, the adults-only-rated “Amores Perros,” achieved the strongest opening of any Mexican pic in the U.K. Rave reviews helped deliver $160,000 from just 13 screens for Optimum Releasing.

(David Rooney, Lee Simkins, Katya Foreman, Ed Meza and John Hopewell contributed to this report.)

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