'Report' going strong in Japan

The “Harry Potter” and James Bond juggernauts have boosted the December B.O. abroad way above the same month last year, while still leaving breathing room for a handful of rookies and older-skewing holdovers.

Hence “Minority Report” posted stellar numbers in Japan, its last major market, where director Steven Spielberg is revered, although it trailed the boy wizard’s mercurial third orbit. It was Fox’s fourth-highest preem in the territory, elevating the cume to $186.1 million.

“Ghost Ship” drew plenty of young horror fans in Spain and a fair number in Oz, while “The Ring” remake thrilled auds in Mexico but wasn’t as appealing in Taiwan. “Stuart Little 2″ dined out well in Brazil, its last stop, lifting its cume to $100 million.

Even Disney’s domestic disaster “Treasure Planet” is sparking in its initial overseas voyages. The toon launched in Spain 20% ahead of “Atlantis” (which grossed a healthy $100.3 million internationally) and 10% up on “Lilo & Stitch,” and it’s on par with “Atlantis” through its second week wide in France.

Buried ‘Treasure’

But “Treasure” was buried in chilly Germany, coming in 20% below “Atlantis.” As one booker noted, “It’s gotten a lot of bad press, so many kids likely opted for ‘Potter’ or simply stayed home out of the cold.”

After pleasing Jackie Chan’s army of admirers in Asia, “The Tuxedo” dressed down in Spain and Germany, where the exhib mused that it looks like a “silly rip-off of James Bond, so why not go see the original?” He lauded the resilient “Bowling for Columbine,” opining the gun-control docu is being helped by the current debate over U.S. foreign policy: “It’s definitely a big topic at the moment.”

Tracking on average 18% above the original thus far, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” sold 10.9 million tickets Dec. 6-8, mobilized on 9,850 screens in 41 countries, making $60.5 million, and its cume through Dec. 10 flew to $298.5 million.

The Chris Columbus-helmed fantasy saw the third-biggest bow ever in France behind Gallic giants “Taxi 2″ and “Asterix & Obelix.” Attendance in France shot up by 76% over the prior week and was 8% better than the corresponding week last year. In Italy, the wiz commanded 80% of the market, marking the fifth largest opener locally, 10% below the original, while newcomer “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” gave adults an alternative diversion.

‘Chamber’ music

“Chamber of Secrets” showed great legs in its soph session in Spain but fell sharply after its awesome entry Down Under. In Oz, it was impacted by frisky frosh “The Santa Clause 2″ and “Blue Crush,” the latter adroitly hyped by promos claiming it showed such exploits as the most people ever surfing on a single wave.

“Die Another Day” minted $21.3 million on 3,372 screens in 24 markets Dec. 6-8 and was on course to blast past $100 million mid-week. The Pierce Brosnan/Halle Berry starrer notched Fox’s biggest debut ever in South Africa and its third largest in Malaysia and Singapore. The 007 caper experienced reasonable drops in its third laps in the U.K., France and Spain and in its second in Germany.

Spain’s early December long weekend is traditionally the best of the year and this one was no exception, surging by 18%. Exhibs now believe the “Potter” sequel could exceed the predecessor, and they were heartened by rising ticket sales for “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and Argentina’s Oscar candidate “Kamchatka.”

In its second frame, “Santa Clause 2″ was the only improver in the U.K., where one exhib described its takings as “phenomenal.” The Blighty B.O. dropped by 30% on the previous weekend but it’s 35% ahead year-on-year.

The critics panned Woody Allen’s “The Curse of the Jade Scorpion” (“the jokes are not, for the most part, vintage Allen,” said one of the kinder notices) and it got a meager turnout on 25 screens.

Ed Meza in Berlin, John Hopewell in Spain, Liza Klaussmann in Paris and Lee Simkins in London contributed to this report.

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