'Pie' still baking as exhibs await holidays

When release skeds are dotted with losers like “Osmosis Jones” and “The Animal” in the U.K.; “Glitter,” “Town and Country” and “One Night at McCool’s” in Australia; and “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” in Germany and Argentina, you just know distribs are clearing the decks before the year-end holiday offerings.

Still, the fall B.O. maintained momentum reasonably well last week as “American Pie 2″ was a riot in Italy; “The Others” spooked the U.K., Mexico and Brazil; and “Scary Movie 2″ delighted Spain’s coarser auds.

Apple of one’s eye

The “Pie” sequel was the frame’s pacesetter, cooking up $11.3 million from 2,293 engagements in 18 countries, hoisting cume to $89.7 million. “Pie 2″ ruled in its third lap in France, while in Germany it now ranks as the second-biggest U.S. film of the year behind “What Women Want.”

“Wasabi,” the Luc Besson-produced action-comedy from “Taxi 2″ helmer Gerard Krawczyk, opened at No. 2 in France, surprising some exhibs who expected it to take pole position given Besson’s stature and the attendant publicity.

Nicole Kidman starrer “The Others” gave Miramax its best-ever debut in Mexico, beating “Scary Movie,” and its second-highest in Brazil. The U.K. bow was overshadowed to a degree by the hype surrounding the Nov. 4 London preem of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (as the pic is titled in most overseas territories), but bookers believe “The Others” will have sturdy legs, as it’s demonstrated in Spain, Italy and Argentina. Estimated cume reached $40 million.

‘Scary’ scores

Cannily launched in Spain on Halloween, which was also the eve of the All Saints’ holiday, “Scary Movie 2″ notched Miramax’s best opener in that market, beating the predecessor. The horror spoof and femme-oriented holdovers “Amelie” and local biopic “Mad Love” were the only titles to withstand a B.O. slide precipitated by a Real Madrid-Barcelona soccer game. “Scary 2″ cume climbed to $47.4 million from 36 territories, generally tracking about 60% of the first “Scary.”

Logging on in its last major markets, “Swordfish” led the field in a slow frame in Germany and placed second in Japan (behind indefatigable local champ “Spirited Away”). Teutonic bookers say the terrorist-themed pic doesn’t suit the current climate; cume topped $63 million, closing in on domestic’s $69.8 million.

Domestic loser “Bandits,” Barry Levinson’s heist caper toplining Bruce Willis, Cate Blanchett and Billy Bob Thornton, took few prisoners in Germany, its first foreign engagement. “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” ran afoul of German auds’ disdain for sentimental kitsch, according to one programmer.

Nearing the end of its international escapades, “Cats & Dogs” hit $96.8 million, outrunning domestic’s $93.3 million, helped by Italy’s so-so debut and Japan’s solid third outing. In the final stops on its foreign tour, “Evolution” was fair in Mexico and mediocre in Japan; its $53 million total has eclipsed domestic’s $38.3 million, but overall that’s a disappointing result for the pricey sci-fi comedy helmed by Ivan Reitman.

‘A.I.’ in gear

“A.I. Artificial Intelligence” levitated to $151.8 million, driven by Russia’s excellent $357,000 opener on 40 and France’s handy soph session.

Gallic auds were not seduced by “America’s Sweethearts”; estimated cume is a ho-hum $46.4 million from 44 markets.

Considering its tepid U.S. perf, the Ben Stiller spoof “Zoolander” saw decent numbers in Oz but was denied the top spot by the buoyant soph session of local laffer “The Man Who Sued God.”

Continuing its European rollout after taking tidy sums in the U.K., “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” recorded Disney’s third-highest toon debut in Norway, 15% above “Shrek’s” entry. Cume rose to $33.8 million.

After being ignored in Italy and Hong Kong, “The Princess Diaries” partially redeemed itself with a top-ranked bow in Singapore. The family pic held OK after a slow start in France and has resonated effectively in Mexico and Oz.

(David Rooney in Rome, Ed Meza in Berlin, Liza Klaussmann in Paris and John Hopewell in Madrid contributed to this report.)

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