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‘Bat’ beats up B.O.

Batman & Arnold are proving an irresistible force overseas as “Batman & Robin” notched socko openings in five markets and held very well in a raft of other territories over the weekend — far better than its 63% second weekend plunge in the U.S.

Although a heatwave flattened the B.O. in territories such as France and Sweden, biz overall was very buoyant as “Men in Black” barreled into three markets day-and-date with its domestic launch; “Hercules” wowed Mexico and Argentina; and “Speed 2: Cruise Control” made waves in five territories.

The summer’s standout “Lost World: Jurassic Park” rocketed to an estimated $74.5 million, including a mighty $4.9 million in 11 days in Hong Kong (slipping 37%), $5.1 million after 10 days in Mexico, $2.2 million in 12 days in Argentina and $1.3 million in six days on 110 in Indonesia.

“Batman & Robin’s” cume hit $35.6 million, and the batpic eclipsed “Batman Forever’s” preem in four markets: Brazil’s $2 million on 185 (the third-highest opening ever behind “Independence Day” and “Lost World”), Thailand’ $1.3 million on 148 (second-best bow in history after the dino sequel), Colombia’s $426,000 on 39 and Switzerland’s $324,000 on 50. In Finland it collared a muscular $224,000 on 40.

The holdover figures indicate Joel Schumacher’s opus has demonstrably stronger playability overseas than at home. Warner Bros. Intl. president Edward Frumkes credits this to an aggressive marketing campaign, co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger “enhancing its international appeal quite significantly,” and in some territories, George Clooney’s success in the TV series “ER.”

Frumkes is confident the fourth edition will overtake “Batman Forever’s” $151 million gross abroad. Warner is developing a new campaign for Japan, where it’s slated for Aug. 2 and the franchise historically has been weak. Schwarzenegger will visit Japan for what Frumkes vows will be a “big publicity stunt.”

After the second-highest debut of all time in the U.K., “Batman & Robin” abated by a reasonable 49% and grabbed 46% of the entire market, tallying $15.3 million in 10 days. In Australia, the fall-off was 32% for $6.5 million in 11 days, standing up well to Polygram’s comedy “Bean,” which in its world preem nabbed a boffo $3.1 million on 193, the seventh-best opening weekend ever: The Rowan Atkinson starrer is pegged for an October release in the U.S.

The comic book actioner held pole position in Germany with $4.9 million in 11 days (off 26%) and in Spain it has scored $2.5 million in 10 days (down 49%), occupying the second spot behind “Liar Liar,” which arrived with a merry $1.1 million on 186 (foreign cume: $83.8 million).

‘Men’ take down Denmark

“Men in Black” charged into Denmark with $394,000 on 50 (a Columbia TriStar record besting “Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s” opening) and Puerto Rico at $686,000 on 47 (the second-highest bow ever behind “Independence Day”). The sci-fi comedy made $160,000 on 41 in Panama; it unspools this weekend in Spain, Brazil, South Korea and Sweden.

“Hercules” bagged $1.2 million on 315 in Mexico, the fifth-highest preem in history there, and $486,000 on 57 in Argentina, where it ranks as the second-best debut weekend this year. In South Korea, not noted as a market that’s receptive to Western animation, the pic took $380,000 on 17, the widest release and highest opening gross ever for a Disney animated entry. In the second weekend in Brazil, “Herc” dropped just 4% for $2.1 million to date.

The “Speed” sequel gave Fox its second-highest bows of all time behind “Independence Day” in Taiwan ($758,000 on 11), Holland ($601,000 on 74) and Israel ($243,000 on 26). The Sandra Bullock starrer also had solid starts in Malaysia ($740,000 on 60) and the Philippines ($736,000 on 69).

King ‘Con’

“Con Air” reigned in South Korea with $4.2 million in nine days (off just 3%) and in Sweden at $1.5 million in 10 days, despite a 55% drop aggravated by brilliant weather; cume is $49.1 million. “Batman & Robin” struggled in Sweden, where auds have not warmed to the caped crimefighter, with $169,000 on 69.

In one of its last engagements, “Metro” landed in France in the top spot with a fair $1.5 million on 312. The foreign tally is $38.9 million and likely to wind at about $44 million. The “Lady and the Tramp” reissue improved by 6% in France for a reasonable $1.9 million in 11 days, and landed in Germany with a low-key $388,000 on 378.

“The Empire Strikes Back” took off in Japan with $1.5 million in two days on 138, bringing the cume since reissue to $49.3 million. “One Fine Day” checked into the U.K. with a moderate $1.8 million on 265: Cume is $38 million.

“Anaconda” uncoiled Down Under with a respectable $803,000 on 109 and was more potent in Singapore at $570,000 on 25; the cume is $12.2 million.

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