‘X-Men’ has power despite Cup slump

'Da Vinci' has been on a torrid pace all summer

As the World Cup raged on, diverting interest from the silver screen to small screens across Europe, Sony’s “The Da Vinci Code” and Fox’s latest “X-Men” pic were battling it out to top overseas cinema charts.

Come Monday, it looked as if Sony’s pic had won a fifth straight No. 1 crown at the international wickets in a soft sesh overall. But “X-Men: The Last Stand” was subsequently kicked up to the No. 1 B.O. spot after Sony’s estimates turned out to be overcooked by about $1 million.

Either way, “Da Vinci” has been on a torrid pace this summer, with precious little competish except for soccer: With $479 million to date, pic is well on its way to passing “Forrest Gump” as the second highest-grossing drama ever, after James Cameron’s “Titanic.”

“X-Men” took in $14.6 million over the most recent frame, edging out “Da Vinci”‘s adjusted $14.2 million. Superhero ensembler rose to $181 million overseas so far.

“Poseidon,” “The Omen” and “Cars” rounded out the top five, and there shouldn’t be too much competish standing in the way of “X-Men” and “Da Vinci,” unless “The Break-Up” finds the same kind of audience response outside the U.S. that it has domestically.

In Japan, where “Da Vinci” has racked up about $63 million to date, the pic finally began to slip, ceding the No. 1 spot to “Death Note,” a horror pic based on a bestselling comic. “Death” distrib Warner Bros. is releasing pic in two parts, with the second installment to hit in October.

Even with World Cup action taking its toll, Blighty biz was up by 11% from the previous weekend. Uptick was attributed to weather taking a turn for the worse in the territory.

“Da Vinci” has taken in a healthy $51.6 million in the U.K., but has finally begun slipping down the charts as new entry “The Fast & the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” from UIP, streaked into the top spot.

The hot-rodding teen pic exceeded bookers’ cautious estimates by at least 15%. The “Fast” franchise has been a hit in Blighty, but “Tokyo’s” success was a surprise since the target aud, young males, is otherwise engaged with soccer.

In the U.K, “X-Men” finished No. 2 and “The Omen” quickly started to fade, after a good start, to the No. 4 spot.

Meantime, “United 93” continues to play well in Blighty on just 278 screens. Pic dipped in its soph sesh just 2% and seems to be staying afloat.

In Germany, home of the World Cup, expectations are down, so exhibs didn’t have too much to be disappointed about.

“Da Vinci,” “X-Men” and “The Omen” accounted for the top three spots. Fox’s “Omen” had some good finishes in Latin America, where soccer is also a religion: Pic wound up No. 1 in Mexico and Chile and No. 2 in Argentina, a country that’s been dominant in World Cup play so far this year.

But most Teutonic multiplex operators have joined forces with soccer by integrating World Cup screenings into their skeds. “We have one screen per house reserved for soccer, and show virtually all matches,” one spokesman says. Access is normally free, and revs are generated via concession sales.

France had Buena Vista’s “Cars” to rev B.O., and the pic did finish in pole position there, though it didn’t manage to push overall numbers much higher during the frame.

Gallic bow for “Cars” was solid, though not stellar, at $2.85 million.

Another new entry was Warner Bros.’ disaster pic “Poseidon,” which grossed a sinking $1.49 million in its debut, from 583 screens. Pic’s foreign take has been mild at just over $70 million.

Leaky, creaky pic did have a No. 1 finish in Hong Kong, however, in the latest frame, beating out horror spoof “Scary Movie 4” and horror pic “The Omen.”

UIP’s CG-animated “Over the Hedge” helped buoy Spanish B.O.

Over June 16-18, Spanish figures actually hiked 13%, thanks to “Hedge” and good holds for “Da Vinci” and “Omen.” Those three pics totaled 50% of B.O. biz.

As for the Cup, one Spanish booker said the matches aren’t denting B.O. more than 5%.

But Italy was one territory where movies were no match for the Cup. B.O. there took a 49% dip from the previous frame, with the nation’s team playing over the weekend in a match against the U.S.

Down Under, Oz was car-crazy, making “Tokyo Drift” and “Cars” its two top pics for the mild frame.

(Mark Schilling in Japan, Christian Koehl in Germany, Archie Thomas in the U.K., Esther de Prado in Spain, Sheri Jennings in Italy, Liza Klaussmann in France and Michaela Boland in Australia contributed to this report.)

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