O’seas B.O. misses goal as World Cup kicks off

Tourney driving traffic away from screens

The World Cup of soccer kicked off Wednesday in Paris, which means much of Europe and Latin America are in the grip of football fever. Many exhibs are griping that they don’t have a sporting chance of competing with the monthlong tourney.

While cinema operators in some territories expect biz will suffer only on days when their national teams are playing, most agree that distribs have already surrendered by holding back major films until the Cup ends.

A few titles are scoring B.O. goals — but nowhere enough to satisfy exhibs. “Deep Impact” had lively launches in four territories but elsewhere is tiring three or four weeks into its run.

“Godzilla” is breathing fire in its initial engagements and “The Horse Whisperer” had dandy international preems last week.

Paramount/DreamWorks’ “Deep Impact” snared a smash $1.7 million in five days on 52 screens in Taiwan (UIP’s second-biggest bow behind “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”); $1.1 million in four days on 36 in Hong Kong (the No. 1 opening of this year); $1.2 million in six days on 112 in Thailand, including previews; and $585,000 on 35 in New Zealand.

Progressive totals include South Korea’s socko $4.2 million after nearly four weeks (clocking 1 million tickets), France’s middling $4.3 million in two weeks (tumbling by a worrying 50%) and Belgium’s $1.2 million in 15 days. The estimated foreign cume is $82 million.

Sony’s big lizard devoured $2.3 million in previews in four days on 277 in Australia, bolstered by the June 8 public holiday. That ranks as Columbia TriStar’s second-highest initial weekend ever behind the opening of “Men in Black.”

Roland Emmerich’s mutant mon-ster mash set a company record in Singapore, swallowing $754,000 in four days on 40 for a total of $1 million, including previews. Robert Redford’s “Horse Whisperer” raced into Australia with an impressive $1.6 million on 232, garnering good word of mouth and mostly positive reviews. The Buena Vista Intl. release lassoed a sturdy $306,000 in three days on 100 in Brazil, but was tepid in Israel and South Korea.

Counter-programmed against the World Cup, “The Wedding Singer” added some fizz to a flat U.K. weekend, wooing lots of females and registering $1.9 million in six days on 270.