'Spider-Man' wows int'l auds

Losing altitude at roughly the same alarming rate overseas as at home, “Star Wars: Episode II — The Attack of the Clones” generally has delivered hefty payloads, but isn’t living up to some European exhibs’ expectations. The sci-fier fell sharply in its third orbit, prompting German bookers to conclude the “Star Wars” craze has petered out sooner than they’d hoped this time around.

Even in Spain, where the pic dropped by a modest 30%, one programmer rated “Clones” as disappointing, noting it’s tracking 35% lower at his circuit than “Episode One.” That exhib figured George Lucas’ epic should have performed more strongly, especially because, unlike the U.S., it’s faced no serious competition. Indeed, among the rookies in Spain last week were “Undisputed,” the Walter Hill-helmed prison drama toplining Wesley Snipes (which was blah) and domestic duds “Big Trouble” and “The Last Castle.”

Yoda & Co. plummeted in the U.K. over the May 31-June 2 weekend as the overall market sank due to a combo of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and warm weather, but Fox’s pic rallied strongly on the June 3 and 4 public holidays, and exhibs were optimistic it would maintain momentum as kids started mid-term vacation.

The Jedi Knights commanded $18.2 million on about 5,500 screens in 70 countries May 31-June 2, and through June 4 the cume ascended to $166.4 million. As “Spider-Man” has just leapt into action in Europe and Australia, “Clones” now appears to have no chance of finishing anywhere near “Phantom Menace’s” $494 million haul overseas. Still, one rival distrib expects “Episode II” to be huge in Japan (where it launches in July), and he forecasts a final tally of around $350 million abroad.

Spidey captured $14.4 million from 3,551 screens in 34 countries, and its cume through June 4 jumped to $127.6 million. The webslinger’s $1.2 million bow in five days on 150 in Colombia smashed the industry record, eclipsing “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by more than 80%. In its meteoric third laps, the comic book-inspired hero is now the all-time champ in Mexico, notching $24.5 million; and rates as the second-highest earner ever in Brazil, trailing “Titanic,” with $12.4 million.

Aptly kicking off in Japan at the same time as the World Cup tourney, Hong Kong comedy “Shaolin Soccer” netted a spirited $3.8 million in four days, and saw a lively soph session in Korea.

“Panic Room” reigned in Singapore and Thailand (outrunning “Erin Brockovich” in both), Malaysia and Turkey, and placed second in Mexico with $1.5 million on 356, doubling “Erin’s” entry. The Jodie Foster vehicle’s cume topped $69 million in 45 countries.

Romantic comedy “40 Days and 40 Nights” drew plenty of teens in Germany (actually selling more tickets than the market-leader “Clones”) and resonated well in the U.K. after respectable runs in Australia and Italy. Having received a chilly reception in Spain, U.S. sleeper “Snow Dogs” had a slow start in Blighty, but perked nicely during the week as a holiday attraction.

Count the U.K. as yet another mediocre debut for “The Time Machine,” which has mustered an uninspiring $38.5 million in 36 territories. Another Warner Bros. also-ran, “Showtime” had a fair outing in Brazil, and its tally reached $31.3 million in 39 markets.

In Oz, “The Hard Word,” a sting comedy starring Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths, opened better than local hit “Two Hands” and “Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels,” but some exhibs were surprised it was beaten by UIP’s “Charlotte Gray,” which generated a lot of media coverage thanks to topliner Cate Blanchett and helmer Gillian Armstrong. That’s the WWII drama’s healthiest bow yet after corpsing in the U.S., the U.K., Spain, Holland and Brazil.

In a languid session in France, “Not Another Teen Movie” struck a chord in a market usually receptive to teen flicks. Claude Lelouch’s Cannes fest closer “And Now … Ladies and Gentlemen” garnered mixed reviews in Gaul and benefited from a solid marketing campaign and the Cannes publicity. After causing a furor in Cannes, rape saga “Irreversible” kept piquing interest in its soph session in France, but collapsed in Italy.

Biz drifted in Italy, weighed down by debutantes “Hart’s War” (prosaically retitled “Under Courtmartial”), David Mamet’s “State and Main” (monikered “Hollywood, Vermont”) and “The Third Wheel,” a romantic comedy starring Luke Wilson, Denise Richards and Ben Affleck, which has sat on Miramax’s shelf for more than a year.

(John Hopewell in Madrid, Lee Simkins in London, David Rooney in Rome, Christian Kohl in Cologne and Liza Klaussmann in Paris contributed to this report.)

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