Global summer B.O. is all over the map

Summer sales flat in France, Spain; Germany, U.K. ahead

Don’t look for a pattern in the summer B.O. overseas. There was none, due to uneven results for some major U.S. pics (and, in some cases, staggered releases) as well as fluctuations in the fortunes of homegrown product.

While Japan experienced a severe slump — down by 35%, one Tokyo distrib estimates — biz in the first half was sufficiently strong to ensure that grosses for the year-to-date are up 5%-6% vs. 2001. Summer ticket sales were flat in France, down a bit in Spain, up by about 7% in Germany, and roughly 12% ahead in the U.K., according to execs in those markets. In Italy, admissions from June through Aug. 25 shot up by 33.6%, driven by “Spider-Man” (whose foreign cume is due to cross $400 million this week) and distribs’ greater willingness to go out in summer with titles like “Resident Evil,” “Lilo & Stitch” and “Scooby-Doo.”

The fall season has kicked off reasonably well abroad, spurred by “Road to Perdition,” “Lilo & Stitch,” “XXX,” “Signs” and “The Bourne Identity.” “Perdition” was the victor in a slow frame in Germany, boosted by rave reviews and Tom Hanks’ popularity, although one booker opined, “It’s a great film but possibly too dark for some viewers.”

Exhibs in Spain were delighted with the gangster saga’s entry, trailing “Men in Black II,” which plunged in its soph session, prompting one to gripe, “We’re facing the same problem as in the U.S.: saturation spreads and fast fades.” The Sam Mendes-helmed pic was just fair in Thailand and Singapore and held OK in Mexico as “Mr. Deeds” muscled in. “MiB2’s” cume hit $223 million through Sept. 10.

“Lilo & Stitch” captivated kids in Scandinavia (notching Disney’s second biggest toon debut, behind “Monsters, Inc.” in Norway) and South Africa. It’s pocketed a lucrative $61.8 million, with Australia, the U.K. and Japan ahead.

Sony/Revolution Studios’ “XXX” captured $1.1 million in five days in Brazil, the market’s fifth-highest preem ever, and $401,000 on 34 in the United Arab Emirates, the second biggest behind Spidey.

“Signs” telegraphed $986,000 in six days in Holland, BVI’s third-best opening behind “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable,” and held stoutly in Sweden. It’s earned a dandy $22.4 million in 22 markets, mostly small fry except Australia.

Al Pacino/Robin Williams starrer “Insomnia” eyed pole position Down Under and second spot in Japan and was buoyed by word of mouth in its second turn in the U.K. Thriller has raked in an estimated $16 million from just 16 territories. “Resident Evil” was the pacesetter again in Japan after its top-ranked bow, and its foreign cume topped $51 million.

In its Euro debut, “The Bourne Identity” reigned in Blighty, although one exhib rated it as “bread and butter fare, nothing special.” British auds weren’t enticed by “The Importance of Being Earnest,” perhaps discouraged by the critical pans.

“Minority Report” anticipated $965,000 in four days on 132 in Russia, Fox’s second best opening behind “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.” Released in 40% of international markets, Steven Spielberg’s sci-fier has mustered $95 million, with most of continental Europe and Japan on the horizon.

British comedy “Ali G Indahouse” generated some laughs in Germany, where auds are fond of gross-out humor, helped by topliner Sacha Baron Cohen’s appearances on Madonna’s “Music” video and on the MTV Movie Awards, and its similarity to recent local hit “Erkan & Stefan.” Despite positive press for “Monster’s Ball” and the Silver Bear for Halle Berry at the Berlin fest in February, the pic proved too dark for many tastes in Germany.

In Italy, teens turned out for “A Time For Dancing,” replicating distrib Eagle Pictures’ success last year with “Save the Last Dance.” Venice fest Golden Lion winner “The Magdalene Sisters” bowed strongly on 28 prints; expansion this week to 100 copies will show the commercial impact of the award and ensuing Vatican uproar and media attention. Local historical romance “A Journey Called Love” saw a lusty launch but other Italo entries from Venice showed less promise.

In France, where admissions were off by 25% from the previous week, “Windtalkers” garnered admiring reviews and sizable crowds in Paris and suburbs, but far less interest in the rest of the country. One Paris crit enthused: “What is most beautiful about the film is its humility, a total exception from the Hollywood form.” Its estimated cume is $25 million from 25 countries.

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

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