Soccer, heatwave stifle European B.O.

Webslinger swings past Jedi Knights overseas

Not even the acrobatic “Spider-Man” was immune from the dark forces — a heatwave and the distractions of World Cup soccer — that dragged down the B.O. in Europe last week. “Unfaithful” generated heat in Spain but yawns in Germany, while “Scooby-Doo” did fine in its first Asian assignments and “The Sum of All Fears” thrilled auds in Latin America and Singapore.

Spidey had enough momentum from debuts and holdovers to overtake the Jedi Knights in their unofficial derby overseas. The webslinger corralled $40.1 million from 7,400 screens in 51 countries in the June 14-16 frame– a company record abroad — and its cume through June 18 vaulted to $225.5 million.

Sony’s epic faced a further foe in the U.K. — a controversial age 12 classification that shut out younger fans. In a typical lament, one London tradester who has a 10-year-old son said, “Neither he nor any of his pals, who were dying to see the movie, is permitted to do so.” As a result, “Spider-Man’s” maiden weekend including previews ranked as the industry’s fifth biggest, well below its usual top-three rankings.

Unfettered by any rating restrictions in France, the Sam Raimi-helmed blockbuster recorded the third-best entry by a U.S. release behind “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.” Ticket sales in Gaul shot up 21% over the prior week and 35% over the corresponding week last year, but exhibs griped about the wide divide between the two top titles — Spidey and “Clones” in its fifth orbit — and everything else. Turkey’s $552,000 bow in five days on 84 screens stands as the market’s fourth highest.

The superhero’s steep soph session descents in Germany and, after its record preem, in Italy mirrored the B.O. declines in both markets. While the season of outdoor music, gay and beer fests is under way in Germany, bookers said the Tobey Maguire/Kirsten Dunst headliner is still overwhelmingly the first choice among moviegoers. But they explained the buoyant third outing of “40 Days and 40 Nights” by saying a lot of guys who had dragged their girlfriends to “Spider-Man” are returning the favor by going to the romantic comedy. In Oz, where the World Cup is drawing sizable primetime TV audiences, the wall-crawler held reasonably well considering the prior week was inflated by a public holiday June 10.

The “Clones” cume topped $199 million June 18 from holdovers and its launch in Colombia, which was Fox’s third highest ever; the Jedis blast off in Japan, Korea and Latin America next month.

In Spain, those folks who weren’t too busy celebrating the Spanish team’s victory over Ireland or wilting in the heat turned out for “Unfaithful,” which also got a leg up from promo visits by helmer Adrian Lyne and thesps Richard Gere and Olivier Martinez. Gere pressed the right buttons in that sexually liberal country by telling the local media he would forgive a partner who cheated. Fox’s pic was hot in Brazil but tepid in Germany, where one programmer sniffed, “The movie looks like something people have seen before, either on television or cinema.”

UIP’s “Sum of All Fears” captured a rousing $796,000 in five days in Mexico and $382,000 in six days in Singapore but was outgunned by “Unfaithful” in Brazil. The thriller held OK in the fast-burn markets of Taiwan (snaring $1 million in 11 days) and Hong Kong ($830,000 in 13 days).

“Scooby-Doo” chewed up $445,000 in five days on 92 in Thailand (third-highest debut for a family pic behind “Harry Potter” and “Dinosaur”) $536,000 on 32 in Singapore (also the third-best for a family pic, behind the boy wizard and “Casper”) and $171,000 on 25 in Malaysia.

“Ice Age” melted young hearts in Taiwan, posting a Fox and all-time toon high. Its cume reached $135.2 million with lots of blue sky ahead, as it’s yet to venture to Japan, Spain and France. In its first foreign tryouts, domestic dud “Bad Company” was just fair in Taiwan, truly bad in Hong Kong and No. 1 in Israel without being special.

Upscale auds flocked to “Gosford Park” in Germany (its second-to-last major market, with Japan ahead), where helmer Robert Altman has a loyal following and auds are partial to old-fashioned English mysteries. Altman’s classy pic has earned an estimated $43 million overseas, edging past domestic’s $41.3 million.

“The Scorpion King” skidded by 44% after a fairly robust preem in Japan, drumming up $4.8 million in 11 days; winding down overseas, the adventure has collected $63.8 million, well below its $90 million U.S. perf.

(John Hopewell in Madrid, Ed Meza in Berlin and Liza Klaussmann in Paris contributed to this report.)

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