The alien fighters in “Men in Black II” rescued the B.O. in Germany and Austria last week, while folks in some other Euro markets headed for the beach or the country on vacation. A fair number of kids stayed around to catch “Scooby-Doo” in Spain and Belgium, while “Stuart Little 2” squeaked in Japan, but was more appealing in the U.K. and Holland.
“It’s about time,” cried one German booker, hailing “MIB2,” the market’s second-highest entry this year behind “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.” Although the sequel opened a tad below the first edition, the exhib predicts it will have a lucrative run. “Many fans of the first film realize it’s just more of the same, but it’s been five years since the original, and that means there will be a lot of new young fans turning out to see it.”
The sci-fi comedy posted the industry’s eighth-biggest preem in Austria, No. 7 of all time in Hong Kong, the fifth best in Hungary and the fourth in the Czech Republic. It also led the field in Singapore, Malaysia, Chile and the Philippines. All told, Sony’s pic raked in $24 million from about 4,000 prints in 28 markets in the July 19-21 frame, and its cume through July 23 jumped to $79 million.
“Scooby-Doo” saw buoyant bows in Spain (dueling with “Ice Age’s” second lap), Belgium, Switzerland and Korea. The canine comedy sailed through its soph session in the U.K, but plummeted in France, where the cartoon character is less enshrined in pop culture than in many other countries. Warner’s family pic has fetched a tasty $48.5 million in 21 markets.
The “Little” sequel scampered into the U.K. some 4% below the original, drawing strongly during the day but sparsely in the evenings. Still, one programmer said kidpics often start slowly then gain momentum through the holidays, and he noted the first “Stuart” went on to earn a strapping $26.7 million. The B.O. in Blighty was down 23% on the prior weekend and 12% below the same weekend last year when “Shrek” and “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” were flying.
In Japan, Sony’s mouse tale was squeezed by local toon “The Cat’s Returns,” which, nevertheless, didn’t live up to exhibs’ expectations considering its pedigree: Studio Ghibli, which produced the monster hits “Spirited Away” and “The Princess Mononoke.” Both were dwarfed by the Jedi Knights adventure, which fell by an acceptable 29% after a record launch, amassing a stellar $28.4 million in 11 days. “Clones'” cume ascended to $281 million. “The Time Machine” connected pretty well in Japan, its final major market; the Guy Pearce starrer has captured $46.8 million and, with a handful of territories ahead, may not match domestic’s unremarkable $56.7 million.
Platformed on just three screens in Japan, “Monster’s Ball” posted a healthy average, but the gritty drama has found it tough to cross over to the mainstream outside of the U.K., Spain and Australia; its cume is a modest $11.2 million, with Germany and Sweden the only sizable markets to come.
Hit U.K. laffer “Ali G Indahouse” launched snappily in Oz, benefiting from a canny guerilla campaign by UIP which included sending 25-second messages from the character’s creator Sacha Baron Cohen to 65,000 cell phones. While “Ali G” grabbed young males, older auds turned out for “Dirty Deeds,” the 1960s-set saga of America Mafiosi butting heads with Sydney gangsters, starring Bryan Brown, Toni Collette and John Goodman.
“Bad Company” tanked Down Under (where one programmer said his expectations weren’t high in view of its domestic failure and the film’s flaws) but it wasn’t terrible in depressed France or in Sweden and Belgium.
“Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” galloped into Mexico with $1.5 million in four days on 350, but was lame in Spain. DreamWorks’ toon has rounded up a minor $17.2 million in 23 markets, registering best in Germany.
Continuing its charmed run abroad, “Lilo & Stitch” drew sizable crowds in Korea (its weekend outscoring “Scooby-Doo,” which opened July 17) and Taiwan. Its total hit $41.9 million, and with Oz, Japan, the U.K. and Scandinavia on the horizon, it should easily surpass $100 million.
In its first foreign engagements, “The Sweetest Thing” had a tepid response in Spain, where exhibs opined topliner Cameron Diaz should have sparked more interest. The raunchy comedy was top-ranked in Thailand, but didn’t resonate in France.
Six or seven weeks into its run, “Spider-Man” inevitably is losing steam, but still pocketing handy sums in France, the U.K. and Spain, and its cume topped $367.1 million.
(Lee Simkins in London, John Hopewell in Madrid, Ed Meza in Berlin and Liza Klaussmann in Paris contributed to this report.)