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Awaiting spring zing

Exhibs eye pics to beat seasonal B.O. woes

The spring doldrums ground on at overseas cinemas last week, relieved in a handful of territories by good-to-excellent bows by “The Matrix,” “Forces of Nature,” “Entrapment” and “I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.”

Holdovers in Spain all suffered serious erosion, tumbling by 30%-44%. “There’s only light at the end of the tunnel,” one exhib said, “when ‘The Matrix’ bows in late June and a bit of hope for ‘Entrapment’ (July 2) given the legion of Sean Connery fans in Spain.”

One U.S. major exec admitted, “International needs a big movie so you can trailer other movies with it. If you don’t have a lot of people seeing trailers, no one knows when you’re opening your movies. It’s a catch-22.”

In Japan, lack of blockbuster product meant the traditionally lucrative Golden Week vacation was fairly soft — receipts were off 20% from the same period last year.

‘Matrix’ envelops

In an otherwise depressed frame in Italy, “The Matrix” rang up $2 million in six days on 306 screens (the best U.S. entry this year) and saw similarly robust launches in Denmark and Malaysia. The sci-fier has rapidly amassed $17.6 million in just eight markets, paced by Australia’s socko $11.4 million in five weeks.

Forceful ‘Nature’

In its first offshore engagements, the Sandra Bullock/Ben Affleck romantic comedy “Forces of Nature” was quite lively in Australia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Portugal but so-so in the U.K. and Norway. The UIP release blew over the weekend into markets including Italy, Spain, Brazil, Mexico and Sweden.

“I Still Know What You Did Last Summer” attracted a reasonable number of horror fans in the U.K. and had a fair hold in Germany but collapsed in its third lap in Spain; foreign cume topped $38 million. “Entrapment” captured $655,000 in five days on 85 in Thailand and $365,000 in five days on 33 in Singapore after a boisterous foreign launch in Malaysia.

‘Swing’ low

In generally flat biz in the U.K., “The Waterboy’s” legs wobbled, falling by 37%, while David Cronenberg’s “eXistenZ” abated by a reasonable 28% during pics’ soph sessions.Nearing the end of its run overseas, “Star Trek: Insurrection” beamed into Japan with a moderate $976,000 in five days on 119 and fared OK in Sweden. Cume is $40.5 million, led by Germany’s $16.4 million, the U.K.’s $12.6 million and Oz’s $3 million. Space saga crashed in France, Spain and most of Asia and Latin America.

Given the lack of competition in Japan, “Shakespeare In Love” plunged by a surprising 57% after a handsome preem, scoring $6.6 million in 12 days. Cume towers at $151.4 million.