'Neverland', 'Melinda' have promising world preems

Tom Cruise’s army of admirers turned out for “Collateral” in Japan, and M. Night Shyamalan’s fans embraced “The Village” in Italy over the weekend, while indigenous pics “A Very Long Engagement” in France and “Seven Dwarfs” in Germany dominated local biz.

Meantime, “Finding Neverland” and Woody Allen’s “Melinda and Melinda” had promising world preems in the U.K. and Spain, respectively.

The only super-wide release that’s active internationally, “Shark Tale” reigned for the fourth consecutive weekend, hauling in a projected $15.3 million, propelling its cume to $109.6 million: It’s the 20th title to cross $100 million abroad this year.

Buoyed by the school holidays, DreamWorks’ toon hooked an estimated $5 million in its third voyage in Blighty, easing by 15%, spurring the territory total to a socko $35.9 million. Wannabe shark slayer surged by 47% in its third in France, minting $4 million, for a local cume of $13.6 million. Based on toon’s first-day take in Russia, UIP was projecting a hefty $1 million weekend there.

With Japan, South Korea, Scandinavia and Singapore ahead, the fish tale should beat its ultimate domestic tally of around $165 million, according to UIP prexy-chief operating officer Andrew Cripps.

“Collateral” nailed an estimated $4 million on 388 screens in Japan, including $1 million in sneaks, rated as 19% ahead of the bow of Cruise’s “Vanilla Sky.” Thriller benefited from promo visits to Tokyo by the thesp and helmer Michael Mann, but the beheading of a Japanese hostage in Iraq may have made sections of the population less receptive to the hit-man saga. However, UIP was confident the pic will be No. 1, ahead of “Be With You,” Japanese weepie about a widowed father and son who encounter someone they believe to be their long-dead wife and mom, from the producers of hit “Crying Out for Love, From the Center of the World.” “Collateral” gunned down roughly $9.4 million at the weekend, hoisting cume to $84.2 million.

“The Village” rang up a projected $2.4 million in Italy, its last major market. That was no barn-burner, but good enough for No. 1, on par with the debut of Shyamalan’s “The Sixth Sense.” Suspenser’s cume levitated to $136.1 million and the worldwide total hit $250 million.

“Finding Neverland,” about how author J.M. Barrie came to write “Peter Pan,” whistled up approximately $1.5 million on 310 screens in Blighty, a decent number that’s level with the entry of “As Good As It Gets.” BVI is confident the Johnny Depp starrer will have legs, thanks to positive reviews and word of mouth.

Launched in Spain after being warmly received at the San Sebastian fest, “Melinda and Melinda” fetched an estimated $885,000 on 155 for 20th Century Fox. Pic starring Radha Mitchell, Will Ferrell and Chloe Sevigny ranked third behind rookie “Exorcist: The Beginning” (which scared up around $1.7 million) and the soph session of local laffer “Ferpect Crime” ; the Allen pic bows Stateside in March.

“Seven Dwarfs,” a comic Teutonic riff on the fairy tale, rustled up a projected $11.3 million in Germany, a 53% market share, repping the third biggest debut locally this year behind “(T)Raumschiff Surprise” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” UIP pickup also scored a terrif $900,000 in Austria and $250,000 in Switzerland.

Warners’ “A Very Long Engagement” wooed an estimated $8.7 million on 700-plus prints in France, comparable to the bows of “The Matrix,” “Unbreakable” and “The World Is Not Enough.” World War 1 romance reunites “Amelie” thesp Audrey Tatou and helmer Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

“Alien vs. Predator” swallowed a meaty $3.5 million in France and $350,000 in Holland, but plunged by a worrying 55% in the U.K., where it has pocketed $7.2 million in 10 days. Fox’s creature feature has banked a handy $39.4 million, with the rest of Europe to come.

After its debut in Italy didn’t meet exhibs’ expectations, “I, Robot” fell by an acceptable 37% to $1.3 million, bringing its market tally to $4 million. Sci-fier’s estimated cume peaked at $196 million.

The “Alfie” remake starring Jude Law declined by a moderate 28% in the U.K, earning a pleasing $6 million in 10 days.

“Shall We Dance” showed fancy footwork in its soph session in Oz, ranking No. 1 again with $1.2 million (off 24%), bringing the local total to $3.6 million.

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