Sweetening the pot

'Pie 2' leads laffers to hot o'seas B.O.

The fall business in many major markets continues to track well ahead of last year thanks to a heady brew of American pies, diaries and sweethearts, plus a sprinkling of homegrown confections.

The hottest ticket abroad last week was “American Pie 2,” which whipped up $19 million from 2,320 engagements in 17 markets, hoisting cume to $62.8 million. Pic posted UIP’s biggest opening of the year in France, earning in its first week more than 50% of the original’s entire $11.2 million total.

The laffer was also tops in Belgium, Portugal (notching UIP’s third-highest bow and the market’s fifth-best of all time), the Philippines and Singapore, and it kept cookin’ in Germany and the U.K.

Gaul’s recipe for success

The Gallic B.O. in the week ended Oct. 23 was 31% up on the prior week and 59% higher than the corresponding frame last year. “Tom Thumb,” a pricey local kidpic, had a handy debut ahead of school vacation, although some folks say it’s too creepy for small children. “Read My Lips,” a love story about a deaf woman and a gauche man, did OK in Paris and big university towns.

“Bridget Jones’s Diary” packed houses in Italy, satisfying the current thirst for light entertainment, and abated by a modest 31% in France. Its foreign cume is a lofty $176.5 million.

Early in its overseas voyage, “The Princess Diaries” penned a royal $1.3 million in six days on 262 screens in Mexico — a local record for a Disney-branded live action pic, outrunning “102 Dalmatians.” Guillermo del Toro’s psychodrama “The Devil’s Backbone” entered Mexico at a solid No. 2.

Julia Roberts starrer “America’s Sweethearts” saw uniformly smart launches in the U.K., Holland and Thailand but dropped sharply in its soph sessions in Mexico and Brazil. Estimated cume is $30.5 million, and with Japan, Italy, Belgium and France still ahead, it could wind up with about $80 million.

The Rob Cohen-helmed “The Fast and the Furious” took the checkered flag in Germany without reaching top gear. While more turbo-charged in Austria, pic crashed in Japan. Cume is $43.8 million.

In its first offshore tryout, “Training Day” couldn’t get arrested in Japan, where the urban cop genre is usually problematic, typified by the misfires of “15 Minutes” and “The Score.” Nonetheless, WB is hoping the Denzel Washington starrer will garner critical acclaim, which will help to attract upscale auds elsewhere.

Japan pets pic

“Cats & Dogs” fetched a nifty $2 million in five days on 203 in Japan, better than “Dr. Dolittle” and “Stuart Little,” and was similarly bullish in Belgium. Cume ascended to $85.5 million, with Italy the only remaining major market.

The Berlin preem attended by Nicole Kidman and Baz Luhrmann didn’t translate to big business for “Moulin Rouge” in Germany, and one booker says word of mouth is mixed. However, the tuner reigned in its second lap in Spain, knocking off that other Kidman starrer, “The Others.” Buoyed by a $9.1 million frame in 31 markets, “Moulin” scaled $73.9 million.

“Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” added to its string of disappointments in Korea and Spain, drubbed in the latter by the critics despite the presence of Penelope Cruz.

Gallic phenom “Amelie” drew reasonable numbers in Spain, and exhibs are optimistic it will be a respectable earner.

Entering one of its first major markets, “Jeepers Creepers” was feisty in Blighty, where auds have a pronounced appetite for horror.

Beginning its Euro campaign in the U.K., “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” did better than “Pocahontas” and slightly below “Mulan,” but exhibs describe its business as ordinary, despite the school vacation. September ticket sales in Britain were 13.5% up on that month last year and the January-September total was 5% ahead.

Horror spoof “Scary Movie 2” was nothing special in Oz, but good enough to be No. 1, probably missing some teens who are preoccupied with exams. “Legally Blonde” had a fair debut in Taiwan, but plunged in its second week in Oz, where bookers opined the Reese Witherspoon starrer would have fared better had it been released before, rather than at the end of, school vacation; MGM says it picked its release date to avoid the holiday competition.

In Italy, “The Score” had a decent preem, helped by critics who fawned over the Robert De Niro/Marlon Brando/Edward Norton combo, while Jack Nicholson starrer “The Pledge” was less enticing.

“Kandahar,” director Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s topical drama about the Taliban regime that was shot on the Iran-Afghanistan border, became the first Iranian pic to top $1 million in Italy, playing on an unprecedented 101 screens.

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