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Blockbusters bloom o’seas

'Blair' still bewitches, 'Tarzan' swings through U.K.

Record-breaking business in the U.K., powered by odd bedfellows “The Blair Witch Project” and “Tarzan,” plus electrifying bows by “The Sixth Sense” in Japan, Mexico and Italy, highlighted a livewire B.O. frame abroad.

Meanwhile, Luc Besson’s “The Messenger: Joan of Arc” was strong in its world preems but a bit less than heroic in France, Belgium and French-speaking Switzerland, in advance of its Nov. 11 domestic launch.

Gallic exhibs say the historical drama is skewing old, while kids, who were on vacation, flocked to freshman “Austin Powers: The Spy Why Shagged Me” and holdovers “Phantom Menace” and “Inspector Gadget.”

First round o’seas

After its punch-drunk U.S. perf, the early omens overseas are not terrif for “Fight Club,” which slugged out a fair $1.5 million in five days on 165 in Italy (where one tradester opines it may be “too dark and brutal” for local tastes) and a wobbly $369,000 in six days on 176 in Brazil.

However, Fox Intl. hopes the Brad Pitt starrer will have a lot more heft elsewhere, and on Nov. 8 will be closely evaluating the opening weekend figures in Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Thailand.

After platforming on 36 screens in the U.K., “Blair Witch” notched the biggest non-holiday weekend of all time (and the fourth-highest ever) Oct. 29-31 in what was a record frame for the territory. In 13 days, the micro-budget pic scared up $14.9 million; it has scored a strapping $33 million from 16 markets.

“Tarzan” raked in $18.6 million in 13 days in the U.K., elevating the cume to $83.2 million, tracking 14% ahead of “A Bug’s Life” and 18% below “The Lion King.” Rookies “Pushing Tin” and Sara Sugarman-written and helmed “Mad Cows” (a local comedy about an Aussie woman who fights the British class system) both bombed in Blighty.

Stellar ‘Sense’

Hyped by a promo visit to Tokyo by thesps Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, “Sixth Sense” ponied up a massive $13.8 million in five days on 275 screens in Japan, including previews. Midweek biz went through the roof, with Nov. 4 (a national holiday) outgrossing the opening-day Saturday.

Spyglass/Buena Vista’s blockbuster notched the sixth-highest opening weekend in industry history in Mexico and after five days there had banked $3 million (17% ahead of “Armageddon”).

In Italy, the thriller delivered a potent $1.4 million in five days on 67 in the key cities before expanding to 250-plus prints Nov. 5. M. Night Shyamalan’s pic fetched about $26 million overseas, hoisting the cume to $62.3 million, including excellent runs in Brazil ($5.2 million in 10 days), Australia, Argentina and Israel.

“Sense” unseated “The Matrix” from its throne in Japan after an exceptional seven straight weekends (its market cume is $60 million, $267.4 million overseas

“Runaway Bride” held well in Japan, improving by 5% for a good $7.4 million in 12 days; its cume stood at $96.8 million through Nov. 4 and should hit the ton Nov. 8. The “Austin Powers” sequel was on the verge of joining the $100 million club after climbing to $98.5 million.

Ciao time

In Italy, “American Pie” whipped up $1.4 million in five days on 129, a little less than expected for the kind of ribald comedy that usually scores heartily with Italo auds, but it has the potential to build. “Pie” has carved up $38.5 million from 15 markets. “Love at First Sight,” local laffer about the son of a small-time Mob family who falls in love with a cop, saw a healthy $1.5 million on 150.

“Notting Hill” (estimated cume: $236 million) has wooed a phenom $12 million in 12 days in Italy, much more than sophisticated romantic comedies usually manage there, drawing all age groups.

With minimal competition in that genre through Christmas, “Hill” looks capable of reaching the heights scaled by local comedic titans Roberto Benigni and Leonardo Pieraccioni.

“Deep Blue Sea” hauled in $10.7 million from 1,918 screens in 24 countries. Cume topped $55, fueled by nifty but not dazzling debuts in Germany, Holland, Austria, German-speaking Switzerland, Argentina and Israel. million.

One Teutonic booker labels “Sea” disappointing for a “fun action” film. “Bowfinger” got positive reviews but did lousy business, prompting one Teutonic booker to opine that folks were perplexed by its title.

The “Star Wars” epic orbited to $463.5 million, becoming the fourth-highest grosser of all time outside North America, after overtaking “Lion King’s” $455 million.

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