‘Pirates’ only bright spot in slow week

Bruckheimer pic takes sixth straight weekend o'seas

The overseas B.O. generally drifted on a sea of mediocrity last week, sustained by rollicking holdover biz by “Pirates of the Caribbean” and impressive local entries in France, Spain, Germany and Switzerland.

Hollywood didn’t do a lot to drive admissions as “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” wasn’t super-strong in Italy and “Matchstick Men” was un-Caged with little effect in France, Germany and its London platform.

A universal crowdpleaser, “Pirates” now ranks as producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s biggest hit, with a worldwide haul of $569 million, surpassing “Armageddon.”

Swashbuckler reigned for the sixth consecutive weekend abroad, ransacking $20 million from 4,249 screens in 46 countries, and its cume through Sept. 23 flew to $276 million.

Now playing in all major markets, it’s got enough momentum to reach $325 million. Johnny Depp starrer posted yet another BVI live-action preem record, this time in South Africa, and reigned in its third lap in Germany, its fourth in Sweden and its second in Australia.

In its last major market sortie, “T3” launched in Italy at about the same level as “Minority Report” and “Men in Black II” last September. But one exhib said the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle suffered from auds’ preference for comedy over violence; its cume topped $270 million.

“The Italian Job” ruled Britannia and did OK in France, Belgium, Russia and Singapore but was ho-hum in Taiwan and dismal in Sweden. Its cume reached $29.7 million in 25 markets, including a measly $4.4 million in Japan where it was handled by an indie. The U.K. was Euro’s healthiest territory as ticket sales shot up by 37%, also spurred by rookie “Underworld” and the buoyant soph sesh of local comedy “Calendar Girls.”

“Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life” conquered Japan, although 30% below the original’s bow. Angelina Jolie starrer has rustled up a reasonable $67 million in 39 markets, with Italy and Australia ahead.

“Bad Boys II” checked into Oz as a muscular No. 2 behind “Pirates” and seized pole position in a slow frame in Brazil. Actioner has taken $26.6 million in 24 markets, hurt in Mexico, Singapore and Malaysia by high age ratings, but in most places it’s beaten the lifetime earnings of the original, which grossed $75.6 million abroad.

In Germany, one programmer said “Matchstick Men” opened to little fanfare, below the radar screen of most moviegoers. “It’s not your average Ridley Scott film although most people may not even know it is a Ridley Scott film,” he said. “Aside from Nicolas Cage, who’s not really a big name here, there are no major stars, so it’s not attracting the kind of crowds that would please us.”

“Identity” showed some spunk in Germany, upping its cume to $18.9 million in 39 markets, led by the U.K.’s $5.1 million. Sony says the modestly budgeted thriller will be profitable theatrically and will have a lucrative afterlife.

There was a fair turnout in Germany for “Rosenstrasse,” a real-life WWII drama of a Berlin woman’s efforts to see her incarcerated Jewish husband, for which Katja Riemann nabbed best actress prize at the Venice fest.

“Football Days” kicked off smartly in Spain. A comedy about a group of no-hopers living in a drab area of Madrid, it’s the directorial debut of David Serrano, who penned last year’s hit, contempo musical “The Other Side of the Bed.”

First in France was “Love Me if You Dare,” a romantic comedy centering on two people who’ve loved each other since childhood but can’t admit it, toplining Guillaume Canet (“My Idol”) and Marion Cotillard (“Taxi”).

After competing in Venice, helmer Bruno Dumont’s “Twentynine Palms” struggled on 50 screens in France, hailed by one critic as “shockingly beautiful” but dissed by others as “painful, pretentious and boring.”

“Ready, Steady, Charlie!,” a raunchy laffer set in the Swiss Army, a BVI pick-up, smashed the opening record for a local film in German-speaking Switzerland, drawing $873,000 in five days on 49 screens.

Ed Meza in Berlin, John Hopewell in Madrid, Liza Klaussmann in Paris and Sheri Jennings in Rome contributed to this report.

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