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B.O. bakes, shakes

'Star' crosses century as top pix take in $98 mil

Heavy-hitting national entries in Japan and Hong Kong added to the explosive firepower of U.S. titles to stoke the foreign B.O. last week, although the exhibitors’ enemy — baking-hot weather — subdued biz in markets such as Germany and Spain.

But exhibs generally could not complain as the frame’s pacesetters — “Star Wars” prequel, “The Mummy,” “The Matrix,” “Tarzan” and “Notting Hill” — hauled in a combined $98 million.

Now the seventh hit to cross the century mark overseas this year, “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” minted a stupendous $43 million on 2,649 screens in 24 countries as its cume hurtled to $132.7 million.

In the U.K., pic eclipsed “Men in Black’s” previous four-day opening record by 33%, corralling $22.4 million after six days. One booker anticipated that “Phantom” would stay strong as summer vacation starts this week.

Another record toppled in Peru as the “Star Wars” prequel fetched $295,000 in five days on 38, besting “Titanic,” the prior champ, by 66%.

Records in 17 territories

Sci-fier has set industry opening records in 17 out of 28 territories.

Snaring a socko $32.3 million after 12 days in Japan, “Menace” plunged by 56% in its second weekend, no doubt affected by two local animated contenders, “Pocket Monsters Revelation Lugia” and “My Neighbors the Yamadas.” “A Man Called Hero,” an action adventure from Golden Harvest and Centro Digital Pictures, set a new opening day record in Hong Kong.

“Tarzan” muscled into Mexico with $4.8 million in six days on 526 screens, that territory’s second-highest opening. The ape man set Disney animated records in South Korea with $1.2 million in five days on 45 and in Taiwan at $900,000 on 16. All told, the family pic coined $12.6 million; cume zoomed to $24.2 million.

“Tarzan” is tracking ahead of “Aladdin” and has a good shot at finishing north of $300 million.

“The Mummy” posted UIP’s fourth-highest debut in the Philippines, fetching $1 million on 94 and had rollicking bows in Holland, Portugal and Finland. After amassing $20.2 million from 2,314 screens in 19 countries, pic soared to $140.6 million.

“The Matrix” raked in $12.7 million from nearly 3,000 screens in 31 markets as cume hit $155.7 million.

‘Hill’ thrills

Universal’s “Notting Hill” seduced an estimated $10 million on nearly 2,000 screens as cume reached $80.7 million, spurred by the best start ever by a romantic comedy in Spain and an all-time record preem in Israel.

In its first offshore engagements, “South Park — Bigger, Longer and Uncut” saw the second-highest opening ever for an ani release in Oz, but was less impressive in New Zealand.

Riding into its second major offshore market after Brazil, “Wild Wild West” ponied up $1.4 million in five days on 50 in South Korea.