Action-packed B.O.

'Armageddon' leads o'seas; 'Lethal,' 'X' strong

Buena Vista Intl.’s “Armageddon” led the overseas marketplace, grossing close to $22 million, which included chart-topping performances in France and the U.K. and a Thai debut that was an all-time B.O. opener for the territory.

The frame also featured strong showings for Warner Bros.’ “Lethal Weapon 4,” Fox’s “The X-Files” and “Dr. Dolittle” (which preemed in France) and BVI’s Spanish leader “Six Days, Seven Nights.” Warner Bros.’ launched “The Avengers” day and date with the U.S. in such territories as England and Sweden and had a potent opening day in France, while BVI’s “Jane Austen’s Mafia!” managed to make the Dutch laugh in the pic’s first European landing.

Willis starrer starts to slide

“Armageddon” staved off competition from “Dr. Dolittle” in France and “The Avengers” in Britain to maintain leads in both territories, but has experienced significant erosion as higher-profile titles began to arrive in Europe for the fall. The meteor movie crossed the $100 million mark last week, with Japan yet to feel its impact and Australia getting its first taste with previews that generated $300,000. It’s grossed $120 million so far internationally and should wind up doing marginally better internationally than in the U.S.

“Lethal Weapon 4” went to the head of the class in its first salvos in Germany, Austria and Hong Kong but had to settle for the bridesmaid position in Norway, where local fave “Solan, Ludvig and Gurin” has been the rage with a $1.5 million B.O. in 14 days of release. “Lethal” was No. 1 with a bullet in the rest of Scandinavia and in Holland, adding almost $19 million to its overseas coffers. Italy and Spain will feel the franchise heat this week.

Spain hot for ‘Days/Nights’

“Six Days, Seven Nights” scored a direct hit in Spain, where it topped $3 million in its first week. The pic also had a powerful premiere in South Korea and has generally opened strong on Harrison Ford’s name. But as in the U.S., the current cume of $32.5 million indicates it won’t perform as well as the actor’s more action-oriented movies.

Japanese biz was particularly strong in the Asian arena owing to local holiday celebrations. Toho’s local hero “Pocket Monster” continued to lead the field with better than $5 million in its fourth week of release and approaching a $25 million cume. Leonardo DiCaprio fever maintained a second place spot for UIP’s “The Man in the Iron Mask,” fueling the costumer’s international gross past $100 million. The Americanized “Godzilla” has survived the ire of island chauvinists to top $25 million in the land of the sinking yen. Miramax’s “Scream 2,” however, barely registered with $900,000 in its launch.

In Hong Kong, UIP sent out the first foreign scouting party of “Small Soldiers,” debuting second with a solid $365,000 from 24 locations. Golden Harvest’s special effects opus “The Storm Riders” slipped to fourth spot, collecting more than $5 million locally in its first month of release.

‘Files’ spooks Mexico

“The X-Files” was tops in Mexico, where it rang up a $1.5 million B.O. opener. The sci-fier also managed to retain the lead in Germany despite a 40% drop but was a total miss in Finland. The film has been attracting large first-week crowds of devoted fans of the TV series and taking it on the chin in follow-up frames.

Eddie Murphy’s international appeal was evident as “Dr. Dolittle” opened in second position in France and posted solid openings in second-tier territories including Belgium and Israel. Its international cume is approaching $50 million.

‘Avenger’ sparks curiosity

“The Avengers” opened in a handful of territories with initial numbers indicating a high curiosity factor. It ranked third in the U.K. with a $2.2 million gross and scored a very impressive $1.3 million first day (plus previews) in France.

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