‘Monsters,’ Hobbits top Japan B.O.

'Soldiers' enlists few

The Japanese B.O. was super-charged by animated monsters and digitally enhanced Hobbits last weekend while biz in Europe generally sagged and “A Beautiful Mind” took handsome sums in Australia, Turkey and Taiwan.

Meanwhile, the Mel Gibson vehicle “We Were Soldiers” began its foreign campaign with undistinguished numbers in U.K., Greece and Singapore.

“Monsters, Inc.” jumped to top spot in its soph session in Japan, pocketing $5.2 million on 535 screens, improving by 19% on the strength of word of mouth. That tripled the debut of “2002 Doraemon,” the latest edition in Toho’s long-running toon series. In nine days “Monsters” has manufactured $13.4 million in Japan, and the weekday receipts are so strong, Disney expects the pic to overtake “Shrek’s” lifetime Japanese cume of $17.9 million by the end of the week.

Disney predicts its toon will match “Pearl Harbor” in Japan; that pic made $56 million. All told, “Monsters” pocketed $10.2 million at the weekend as cume soared to $164.2 million. In Spain, the family pic was, remarkably, No. 1 for the fifth consecutive weekend, advancing to $10.5 million.

‘Lord’ a strong No. 2

“The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” was a strong No. 2 in its second chapter in Japan, earning $4.7 million on 580 screens (dropping by a mere 6%), hoisting the territory total to a dazzling $17.6 million. New Line’s blockbuster ascended to $477.3 million, buoyed by a $9.8 million frame, dwarfing domestic’s $291 million.

“Beautiful Mind” rang up $1.5 million on 320 Down Under after taking $1.2 million from sneaks — 133% ahead of “American Beauty” and 153% up on “Vanilla Sky.” The Ron Howard-helmed drama conjured up $1.3 million in Mexico, $282,000 on 51 in Taiwan and $275,000 on 60 in Turkey.

After so-so bows, “Mind” eased by a mild 25% in the U.K., tallying $4.1 million to date, and by a trifling 7% in Germany, where the 11-day total is $3.4 million. The Russell Crowe starrer minted nearly $10 million in 22 markets, elevating cume to $39 million. Italy’s $6.3 million and Spain’s $4.4 million, both in 17 days, are impressive, as is Mexico’s $2.1 million in nine days; France is the weak link with $2.6 million in 26 days.

Purely from holdovers, “Ocean’s Eleven” grossed an estimated $10.2 million from 2,081 engagements in 49 territories, propelling cume to a lofty $226.8 million. The Las Vegas caper retained pole position in its fourth stanza in Blighty, climbing to $26.3 million, and in its second in South Korea, reaching $4 million.

Vietnam War saga “We Were Soldiers” landed in the U.K. in fourth spot, notching nearly $1.1 million on 384, indicating auds — despite Gibson’s allure — almost certainly are jaded with war fare after “Black Hawk Down” and “Behind Enemy Lines.”

‘Hawk’ soars in Brazil

A valiant warrior in Latin America and Asia but a wimp in Europe, “Black Hawk Down” commanded second spot in Brazil, capturing $490,000 on 280 (outgunning “The Rock” and “Enemy of the State”), and it was No. 1 in Thailand with $302,000 on 77. Cume including the markets handled by Revolution’s distribs topped $34 million, including Australia’s handy $4.1 million.

Gallic import “Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra” led the field in Germany, whistling up $2.5 million on 709 screens.

Denzel Washington starrer “John Q.” fetched a sickly $559,000 on 207 in France in its first foreign tryout, reflecting the difficulty of persuading folks abroad to see films set in the U.S. medical system, as “Patch Adams” found.

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