Fantastic duo cross thresholds

Typifying the fantastic start to the year, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” soared past $300 million overseas last week, while “Harry Potter” approached $550 million and “Ocean’s Eleven,” “American Pie 2,” “Spy Game” and “Shallow Hal” all notched strong debuts in assorted markets. Summing up the generally euphoric mood, one German exhib marveled that there’s “something for everyone” on his country’s screens.

New Line’s “Rings” blockbuster conjured up $44.5 million from 6,526 prints in 41 countries as the cume levitated to $302.4 million through Jan. 16. Peter Jackson’s epic ruled in its fourth outing in the U.K., Germany and Spain, and in its third in South Korea, experiencing generally mild drops. The pic scored a magical $659,000 in its first week on 29 screens in Hungary and $548,000 on 29 in the Czech Republic.

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” topped $548 million after bagging $26.2 million from 6,614 screens in 50 markets. It’s on course to overtake “Jurassic Park’s” $563 million to rank as the No. 2 earner of all time abroad behind “Titanic.”

Among the latest feathers in its cap, the wiz is now the fourth-highest grosser ever Down Under (displacing “Babe”), while in France, it’s raced past “Amelie,” which was the territory’s champ last year, minting $38 million.

“Ocean’s Eleven” mustered roughly $16.8 million from 1,739 screens in just 13 countries, elevating its total to $32.1 million. The remake posted Warner Bros.’ second-biggest debut ever, behind “Potter,” in Germany, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, Holland and Portugal, and its third best in Switzerland.

Sporting great legs, Steven Soderbergh’s crime caper retained the top spot in its fourth stanza in Italy, and saw sturdy soph sessions in Thailand and Israel. “It’s a great film for couples — female viewers can enjoy Hollywood’s most attractive leading men, while the film is still humorous, exciting and cool enough for their guys,” enthuses one German booker.

Originally skedded for late last year, “The Others” belatedly materialized in Germany and was overshadowed by the WB trio of “Ocean’s,” “Potter” and “Rings.” But another exhib rated the chillfest’s business as solid, and expects that to continue, spurred by word of mouth and glowing reviews. The Nicole Kidman starrer’s estimated cume reached $79 million, with Japan the only major market on the horizon.

The “Pie” sequel cooked up a tasty $1.7 million in five days on 251 in Mexico, and its cume climbed to $132.3 million, with Japan set for next month to complete its foreign tour.

“Spy Game” commanded pole position in France and bowed smartly in Mexico and Belgium. The espionage thriller has captured an estimated $42 million, driven by impressive perfs in Japan, Italy and Spain, and an OK contribution from Blighty.

Gallic auds adore topliners Brad Pitt and Robert Redford, and the latter is warmly remembered for “The Sting,” which recently got another airing in Paris arthouses.

“Laissez-Passer,” from acclaimed director Bertrand Tavernier, recounting the real-life story of a screenwriter and an assistant director who took different paths of resistance during the Nazi occupation in WWII, garnered excellent reviews in France but only a fair turnout, although its running time of nearly three hours restricted sessions.

“Beautiful Memories,” an offbeat story about two people who fall in love in an amnesia clinic from first-time director Zabou Breitman, also had good reviews, but came in at No. 9, although it had a fairly healthy screen average.

“Rat Race” had a warmer reception in Britain, helped by the presence of local faves John Cleese and Rowan Atkinson, than in many other markets. Italos were less taken with the Jerry Zucker-helmed laffer, which plunged in its second week in Oz after a mediocre bow; its estimated cume is an unlucky $13 million from 29 territories, with Japan, Germany and Scandinavia the only remaining significant markets.

“Last Orders,” local saga about three South London pals who motor to the South Coast to bury the ashes of a guy who was their drinking partner, had a promising preem on 25 screens, and will expand to 69.

The Farrelly brothers’ “Shallow Hal” made a splash in Spain, where exhibs lauded Fox’s energetic campaign, and in Russia.

“Behind Enemy Lines” held fairly well for an action pic in the U.K., but took few prisoners in Italy.

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

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