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‘Piano’ hits chord with Italy, France

With top spots in France and Italy, Jane Campion’s Palme d’Or-winning “The Piano” is already proving a major hit for CIBY Pictures. The pic has taken $ 6.3 million in three weeks from 352 screens, with most territories still to open.

Still going strong are the two big international pix of the moment, UIP’s “Indecent Proposal” and WB’s “Falling Down.”

The Michael Douglas starrer has taken the top spot in five European territories and is second in three more.

In Australia it was ousted only by the stellar performance of “Aladdin.” The hit Disney toon took a strong $ 14,570 per screen from 82 screens for a total of $ 1,194,732.

“Falling Down” was also blocked from the top spot in Germany, where “Indecent Proposal” still rules in its third week.

The U.K. opening of “Falling Down” was a good but not sensational $ 1,746,399 from 308 screens. In total, the Michael Douglas pic has grabbed more than $ 11 million in Europe after just three weeks.

Also opening strongly in foreign markets is “Cliffhanger,” which, in four minor Asian markets, has generated about $ 2 million. According to Carolco, that puts it above “Total Recall” but below “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

In Paris, a sudden heat wave knocked ticket sales down by about 27% from the previous week and about 17% from the same week last year.

Even so, the Paris cume is still running at 6.8% ahead of last year and the summer promises a bumper crop of major releases, led by “Last Action Hero.” The old wisdom that big releases are wasted in the summer has been ditched after last year’s boffo August opening of “Lethal Weapon 3.”

The strategy now is to open in the second half of August and hope that pix have enough legs to run into September, when Gallic life returns to normal.

In Italy, however, the box office has all but disappeared into its regular summer hole. While the cinema season has been extended into May and early June, thanks in part to the successful Festa del Cinema promotion, it still cannot thrive in the hot summer months.

The Italo success of “La Scorta,” still in the charts after eight weeks, marks an upbeat end to the reign of Istituto Luce boss Beppe Attene, who resigned last week (see related story).

Madrid was down again last week, sliding a further $ 30,000 from the previous week’s box office total. New releases “Jennifer 8,””Point of No Return” and “Whispers in the Dark” made little impact. Only “Falling Down” performed respectable business, but even that fell 10% from its opening weekend.

Col TriStar, meanwhile, reports that the collective foreign gross for “Groundhog Day,””Hero” and “Nowhere to Run” is poised to exceed the domestic total. The films have amassed about $ 95 million overseas, compared with $ 107 million in North America.

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