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‘Batman’s’ boffo B.O. in Britain

Warner Bros.’ “Batman Forever” had a fabulous week, sweeping into the U.K. and Irish Republic record books with the biggest opening day and the biggest previews ever, plus the second-largest opening weekend behind “Jurassic Park.”

The sequel nabbed double the original pic’s opening takings and 70% more than the second.

The Caped Crusader also wowed France, selling more than 100,000 tix on its first day – again outperforming its predecessors. The Bat-phenomenon blitzed Mexico, Norway and Panama and reported pleasing results in Sweden and South Korea. The week of Bat-activity bolstered the cume to $55.1 million.

“Die Hard With a Vengeance” joined the blockbuster club this week, boasting an overseas cume of at least $105 million, with BVI territories accounting for $49 million, Fox for $34 million and independents contributing the rest. The figure could be more, with provincial results trailing in the Philippines, for instance, which has posted a $3.6 million tally.

Pundits believe the pic will easily surpass $200 million by the end of its foreign campaign, which has yet to hit the U.K., France, Spain and Italy. The Bruce Willis actioner continued to blast away in its third lap in Japan, clinging to the top spot, while rising 35% in its fourth lap in Germany and 24% for the week as a whole, ahead of its Spanish bow this weekend.

BVI had an animated week with “Pocahontas” snaring excellent bows in Taiwan and Argentina, powering the cume to $16.4 million (72% of which came from Latin America), while veteran stablemate “The Lion King” made cinema history (and not because of its staggering $442 million cume), preeming in China as BVI’s first release there. It was reportedly “very well received” by the 1,350 people at the bow, which was a benefit for the China Love Thy Kids Foundation for disadvantaged youth.

BVI’s “Crimson Tide” impressively burst into a busy week at the German box office, but was unable to knock “Die Hard” off its perch, and swept into top spot in Austria, pumping the eight-territory cume to $8 million.

“While You Were Sleeping” was charming in its Swiss bow, posting a nine-market cume of $12 million, while fortune smiled for the German bow of “Ed Wood,” which came in seventh for a cume of $4.8 million.

Bad weather in Germany helped the box office surge, with local film “The Bad Man” resurfacing in the top 10 in its 41st week, while South African film “Yankee Zulu” grossed more than it did in its unexpectedly strong debut weekend. With a box office recovery seemingly under way, German exhibs have great expectations for the weekend release of “Casper.”

‘Mighty’ money

Still in Germany, Fox’s “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie” came in behind “Die Hard” and “Crimson Tide” and impressively powered into Puerto Rico with a screen average of $7,432; the cume rose to $1.8 million. Stablemate “Braveheart” marched mildly into Indonesia taking $79,412 from a 33-screen bow, but showed staying power in Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand to boost the cume to $18.5 million.

UIP was wild about the Malaysian and Israeli openings of “Congo,” taking $386,020 and $225,442 in their first six days on 31 and 20 screens, respectively, which helped boost the cume to $10.2 million in the face of large drop-offs in the U.K., Australia and Hong Kong.

Ghostly takings

Stablemate “Casper” was in high spirits with a cume of $39.9 million, jumping up in its second week in Argentina, recording a bigger opening than “Jurassic Park” in Thailand (a screen average of $10,831 for the weekend) and a pleasing bow in the Netherlands.

The pic also performed brilliantly in Spain, which together with hot weather deflated the performance of most other pics there. UIP stablemate “Tank Girl,” however, continues to flounder in nine markets, its cume around $2 million.

New Line’s “Don Juan De-Marco” charmed some cinemagoers in Belgium, with a screen average of $5,381 from its 19-theater bow taking the cume toward $8 million, while Columbia TriStar’s “First Knight” marched into third spot Down Under and held good screen averages in its second U.K. lap – the only other major overseas territory so far.

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