Asian countries hit 'Anger' with SARS scare

For the third straight weekend, that jolly old bean Rowan Atkinson was the B.O. king overseas as “Johnny English” rustled up an estimated $14 million from 3,600 playdates in 39 countries.

Meanwhile biz in Asian markets including Taiwan and Singapore deteriorated due to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic.

“Anger Management” suffered from the health scare in Taiwan, top scoring in Taipei with an estimated $93,000 on 14 screens — at least 60% below the level usually achieved by the front-runner there.

The Adam Sandler/Jack Nicholson starrer’s bows also appeared to be hit by SARS in Singapore (where it notched roughly $241,000 on 26, including sneaks, good enough for No 1), and in the Philippines ($160,000 on 21, with previews) and Thailand ($100,000 on 36). “Anger” abated by a modest 29% in Australia, psyching up a terrif $4.5 million in 11 days.

“Johnny English” fetched a meager $100,000 on 60 screens in Taiwan, about 30% less than UIP had expected. Distrib’s Taiwan office reported the entire market is depressed and SARS’ impact has escalated rapidly in the past few days as one Taipei hospital was quarantined after multiple cases were discovered.

Vacation fave

Nonetheless, Working Title’s comedy has amassed a stellar $78 million after 18 days of international release, the clear first choice for kids and families during the Easter school vacation.

“Johnny” was No. 1 for the third weekend in a row in the U.K. (racking up an estimated $3.8 million, upping the market total to $22 million, tracking 41% ahead of Atkinson’s “Bean”); and in Germany ($2.7 million, for $14.6 million to date).

Spy spoof’s other impressive tallies include Australia’s $6 million in 18 days, Spain’s $4.8 million in 17 days and Mexico’s $1.5 million in 10 days.

“How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” led the pack in Oz, whistling up a dandy $2.4 million on 241, including $675,000 in previews over the Easter weekend. Romantic comedy also reigned in Mexico, wooing an estimated $500,000 Friday-Saturday from 210 locations.

King reigns in Spain

“Dreamcatcher” grossed $6.8 million at the weekend, elevating the cume to $26.1 million, per Warner Bros.’ Sunday projections. Stephen King-inspired tale caught a ho-hum $1.1 million on 345 in the U.K. but is resonating better in Spain, trapping $867,000 in its soph session, bringing the territory total to $3.2 million.

“The Jungle Book 2” climbed to an estimated $70.5 million (eclipsing domestic’s $47 million) on the back of a $5 million frame. After three weekends Disney’s toon has drawn a uniformly spry $9.7 million in Blighty, $3.6 million in Mexico and $3.5 million in Spain.

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