'Pie' slices up B.O. along with 'Rush,' 'Scary'

Audiences overseas caught a healthy dose of sequelitis last week, as “American Pie 2″ was piping hot in German-speaking markets and South Africa, “Rush Hour 2″ burned rubber Down Under and “Scary Movie 2″ made merry in Mexico.

Also stoking biz by varying degrees in other territories were debutantes “The Fast and the Furious,” “Moulin Rouge” and “America’s Sweethearts.” The fall season in many major markets is tracking ahead of last year thanks to the newcomers and sustained holdovers, including “The Others” in Spain and Italy and “Spirited Away” in Japan.

In Germany, its first major market, “American Pie 2″ cooked up $12.4 million, breaking UIP’s local opening record held by “Jurassic Park.” That more than doubled the numbers for the first “Pie,” which went on to rank as Germany’s top grosser last year, minting $33.5 million when handled by Constantin. Germany was among a bunch of territories sold off by Universal — a mistake it didn’t make this time. The laffer also has whipped up a tasty $894,000 in three weeks in Israel.

New Line’s “Rush Hour 2″ notched Roadshow’s fourth-biggest debut in Oz, where takings surged by 34% over the prior week, spurred by school vacation. The Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan vehicle held fairly well in Japan, factoring out the prior weekend’s previews. Foreign cume hit $49.7 million from 23 markets.

Miramax’s “Scary Movie 2″ whistled up $1.1 million in five days on 244 screens in Mexico; its total climbed to $30.7 million from 27 territories. The horror spoof has been a sizable draw in France and solid in the U.K., Brazil and Holland; it’s yet to haunt Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and Oz.

‘Fast’ tracks

“The Fast and the Furious” motored into France in second spot behind local pic “Vidocq” (which took a big hit in its soph session, torpedoed by critics’ blasts) with reasonable momentum considering the unknown cast and Gallic auds’ antipathy toward car-racing pics. The actioner ruled in Belgium, but was just OK in Brazil and Denmark; it tanked in Thailand and the Philippines. In its second laps, “Fast” was punctured in Oz by “Rush Hour 2″ and hit the wall after an indifferent preem in Italy.

Ticket sales in France during the week ended Oct. 2 were 7% up on the same week last year, without reaching gangbuster levels.

Although “Amelie From Montmartre” dropped out of the top 10 after a long, lucrative run, topliner Audrey Tatou bobbed up in “Dieu est grand, je suis toute petite,” a comedy about religious differences between lovers, which got halfhearted reviews and a commensurate turnout.

Hyped by a Rome preem attended by Baz Luhrmann and co-star Ewan McGregor (Nicole Kidman had to cancel because of air travel concerns), “Moulin Rouge” posted decent figures on 150 prints in Italy.

Some Italo exhibs, who expected a stronger showing for the tuner, wondered why Fox didn’t go wider (the distrib added 40 copies Friday) but noted fierce competition from freshmen “Swordfish” and “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” and holdovers “The Others,” “Bounce” and “Blow.”

Italo tradesters said the fall is 15%-20% up on last year.

Woody Allen journeyed to Rome to tubthump “Scorpion” after its Venice fest screening and spent most of his interviews fielding questions about the U.S. terrorist attacks. That didn’t harm the pic, which benefited from laudatory critics and arthouse auds’ enduring loyalty to Allen.

Cume of “Moulin,” meanwhile, moved up to $47.6 million, also helped by handy debuts in Belgium and Norway.

Scaring up $$$

In Spain, “The Others” soared past $16 million and is sure to overtake “Torrente 2’s” $20.2 million to rank as the all-time highest-grossing Spanish production. After pleasing runs in Norway, Sweden and Israel, “America’s Sweethearts” saw jaunty bows in Spain and Taiwan but was a bit less alluring in South Korea and Hong Kong. One Madrid exhib rated the Julia Roberts headliner as in line with its U.S. results and opined it would not match “Notting Hill” or “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”

Jet Li/Bridget Fonda starrer “Kiss of the Dragon” was ho-hum in Spain, where one programmer observed, “It’s the woman who decides what a Spanish couple sees at the cinema, so kung fu films don’t perform well.”

Steven Spielberg’s “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” smashed WB’s opening record in Portugal ($360,000 on 55) but wasn’t as luminous in Sweden or Israel. The sci-fier stayed aloft in its soph session in the U.K., but plunged in Spain, where the critics lashed its sentimentality; cume is $125.7 million.

‘Enigma’ intrigues

In its world preem, “Enigma,” the Michael Apted-helmed spy thriller toplining Dougray Scott and Kate Winslet, aroused plenty of interest in Britain, resonating strongly in the West End and other upscale locations (it’s slated for the U.S. in January via Manhattan Pictures).

“Mike Bassett: England Manager,” a soccer mockumentary featuring local TV identity Ricky Tomlinson, kicked off nicely despite unflattering reviews.

Mandalay’s “The Score” was nothing special in Blighty, but was tops in Argentina with $642,000 on 185.

“Cats & Dogs” fetched a terrif $919,000 on 39 in Hong Kong, but didn’t bark as loudly in Argentina; cume is $70.8 million.

(David Rooney in Rome, John Hopewell in Madrid and Liza Klaussman in Paris contributed to this report.)

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