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O’seas auds crowd around ‘Traffic’

Drug trafficking drama tops in Italy, Oz, South Korea

There was no stopping Initial Entertainment’s “Traffic” on its triumphant road trip through a fractured international landscape.

The drug trafficking drama opened at No. 1 in Italy, Oz and South Korea. Impressive figures for Sweden and France helped run the international cume to $15.6 million.

In Australia, Roadshow confidently opened the pic on 265 screens and realized a street price of $1.8 million — and average of $7,000 per engagement. In Italy, strong reviews and bumper editorial helped a push the five-day total to $1.3 million on 233, averaging $5,500 per engagement, with plans to go wider. Korea’s weekend numbers showed the Oscar-nommed pic doubling and tripling admissions of others in an otherwise static market.

In Sweden, “Hannibal” held the top spot in it’s third lap, thanks to a wider release than “Traffic,” which placed second. But the ensemble pic’s hefty per-engagement average of $9,500 doubled “Hannibal’s” fading $5,400. In France, the Steven Soderbergh-helmed pic generated a frisson of excitement in an otherwise dull landscape, again second to “Hannibal,” but with a higher average.

Meanwhile, Latin American auds queued up for more horror, as a post-“Hannibal” welcoming party ushered in “The Exorcist — Director’s Cut” 28 years after the original. Warner’s decision to release helmer William Friedkin’s version ahead of 2002’s “Exorcist: Dominion” has already generated $41 million with less than half of its territories open. In Mexico, the classic reaped a stunning $2.5 million in its opening week. It debuted at No. 1 in Argentina, and has scared up $2.1 million through two weeks in Brazil.

“Hannibal’s” international total of $84 million is still rising after firm debuts in Greece and Taiwan. The “Silence of the Lambs” sequel remains No. 1 in France, Spain and Blighty.

French B.O. is experiencing a lull, with poor grosses for “Chocolat” being blamed on the perception that it’s a quirky pic with narrow appeal. International cume is $17.1 million, helped by Italy’s total $4.4 million. In Spain, distributor Lauren’s narrow 24-engagement debut for the Juliette Binoche vehicle returned a sweet $9,600 average, which the distrib attributes to the popularity of helmer Lasse Hallstrom.

Sony’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” kicked up an $8,000 per-engagement average in its third lap in Spain. And Spanish TV series spinoff “No te fallare” continued to notch the biggest figures for a local pic this year.

Blighty wasn’t mighty. With no new significant pics, a couple of locals debuted with mixed results; Roddy Doyle’s Dublin-set romantic comedy “When Brendan Met Trudy” preemed in Ireland, taking $300,000 from 30 prints; it’s skedded for a U.K.-side release April 27. London comedy “Born Romantic,” starring Jane Horrocks, attracted just $400,000 despite an optimistic 222-site opening.

In Japan, BVI’s “102 Dalmatians” rose above three other openers, including the 23rd installment from the animated “Doraemon” franchise, to reap $2.7 million in four days. Sony’s “Snatch” and “Finding Forrester” failed to make an impact. With an international cume of $94.2, “Dalmatians” was poised to pass $100 million last weekend in its final territory.

In Germany, “What Women Want” is still boffo in lap four. Senator Distribution’s latest local release, “Das Experiment,” bowed at No. 2, garnering $1.4 million from 229. Bookers expressed surprise at the success, because the hard-edged prison pic is hardly a date movie — the type of pic that registers big B.O. in the territory. Another exhib says the high turnout for “Das Experiment” reflected star Moritz Bleibtreu’s popularity.

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