Kudos winners can't hit 'Miss' at box office
Oscar kudos gave “Traffic” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” a modest leg up in some markets last weekend, but there was barely a flutter for “Gladiator.” “Miss Congeniality” was one of the few strong contenders in a generally subdued frame.The Brad Pitt-Julia Roberts starrer “The Mexican” kicked off its foreign campaign in Taiwan, stealing $415,000 in two days on 45 screens, including previews: Pretty good, but not enough to dethrone the Sandra Bullock starrer, which collared $548,000 in its soph session on 52, racking up a socko $2 million in nine days. Entering Japan, its final stop, “Meet the Parents” sired an OK $424,000 in two days on 28 screens in the nine key cities (nationwide total wasn’t available), just behind the pacesetter, kidpic “Doraemon 2001” in its fourth round. “Parents'” estimated cume is $131 million. ‘Traffic’ jams Helmer Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar victory buoyed “Traffic” in Italy, where it eased by just 7% in its fourth weekend on 168 screens (dropping 12 screens), tallying $3.8 million. The drug-war saga slipped by just 4% in its 10th round in the U.K. as its score there reached $11.1 million, and it continued to rake in tidy sums in its fourth in France and its eighth in Spain. Estimated cume is $40.3 million, with Germany and Japan ahead. Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” added $1.8 million to its coffers from 800 screens in the markets where it’s handled by Columbia TriStar, experiencing nice spikes from a low base. Its cume is $44 million in the Sony territories plus an estimated $21 million from Good Machine Intl.’s markets. The weekend’s top earner, “Miss Congeniality” minted $9.8 million in 22 territories, hoisting its cume to $26.4 million. The pic commanded pole position in Germany ($2.8 million from 424 prints, WB’s eighth biggest bow ever in that market), Austria ($410,000 on 59, Warner’s second-best debut), Belgium ($326,000 on 41), Israel and South Africa. But the undercover-agent caper had less resonance in Italy ($350,000 on 144) and South Korea ($435,000 on 60), in the latter beaten by local rookie “Friend” and the soph session of another domestic pic, “Sunmool.” Showing great legs, the WB/Village Roadshow co-prod dipped by just 18% in the U.K., racking up $6.2 million in 10 days, and by 4% in Holland, tallying $1 million; it actually improved by 2% in Switzerland, climbing to $805,000. ‘Car’ zooms Fox’s laffer “Dude, Where’s My Car?” motored into Oz with a merry $902,000 on 156; its cume is $15.4 million in 19 markets, led by Germany’s $3.5 million in 11 days (tumbling by a typical 47%) and Spain’s $3.2 million through its fourth lap. “The Emperor’s New Groove” landed in France with a soft $1.3 million on 565, but BVI is looking for an upswing as the spring school vacation starts this weekend. The animated pic ranked a distant second behind Gallic freshman “La Tour Montparnasse Infernale.” Thomas Carter’s musical drama “Save the Last Dance” rang up a solid $1.5 million on 340 in the U.K. and dipped by 35% in Germany, fetching $2.9 million in 11 days. ‘Chocolat’ craving Miramax’s “Chocolat” cooked up $4.1 million from holdovers on nearly 1,500 screens, propelling its cume to $41.1 million in 36 territories. The standout scores are the U.K.’s $7.4 million through its fifth course, Italy’s $6 million after its sixth and Germany’s $5.7 million in its third. In Spain, domestic comedy “Torrente, Mision en Marbella” (sequel to the 1998 hit “Torrente — The Dumb Arm of the Law”) reigned with a boffo $2.9 million on 273, according to a B.O. service that tracks about 80% of the territory. Unable to match its domestic results, “Remember the Titans” launched in Spain with a modest $450,000 on 180 and in Germany with a blah $550,000 on 330; the cume is a measly $10 million, with Japan, France, Italy and Belgium the only major markets where it’s yet to play.