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O’seas B.O. upswing

'Matrix,' 'Haunting,' 'Bride' help push biz

In a generally lively frame overseas at the weekend, “The Matrix” electrified Japan, smashing the opening record for a non-holiday weekend, while “The Haunting” wowed Mexico and “Runaway Bride” had lucrative trysts in Latin America and Europe.

Also stoking biz, “Deep Blue Sea” blitzed South Korea and the Philippines, “Tarzan” enchanted Australia and “The Sixth Sense” had an auspicious foreign launch in Hong Kong.

Chalk up two more milestones for “Star Wars: Episode 1–The Phantom Menace,” which collared $9.4 million from 2,788 screens in 24 countries, so its $352.1 million tally now ranks at No. 7 among the all-time champs overseas, surpassing “Forrest Gump’s” $350 million. George Lucas’ pic became the third-highest grosser ever in the U.K., reaching $75.9 million in its ninth orbit, behind Fox stablemates “Titanic” and “The Full Monty.”

“The Matrix” rang up $7.8 million in two days on 282 screens (plus $580,000 in previews) in Japan, the territory’s fifth-highest debut in history behind “Phantom Menace,” “The Lost World: Jurassic Park,” “Independence Day” and “Armageddon,” which all bowed during holidays. The Wachowski brothers’ sci-fier broke 22 house records and commanded 47% of the top five titles’ B.O. in Tokyo. Its cume soared to $203.6 million — the third title to cross $200 million this year after the “Star Wars” epic and “The Mummy.”

‘Haunting’ in houses

Beginning its offshore rollout, “The Haunting” scared up $1.4 million in three days on 266 in Mexico and a dandy $771,000 in 12 days on 28 in Singapore.

“Runaway Bride” galloped into Brazil with $1.4 million on 259, Buena Vista Intl.’s third-highest debut ever, eclipsing “Notting Hill” by 47%, and in Argentina fetched $807,000 on 72, BVI’s second-biggest live-action opener behind “Armageddon,” topping “Hill” by 15%.

The Julia Roberts-Richard Gere romance wooed a sweet $380,000 on 85 in Holland (a bit better than “My Best Friend’s Wedding” but fractionally below “Notting Hill”) and a dashing $266,000 on 40 in Denmark (trouncing Roberts’ previous pic by nearly 60%).

“Bride” eased by a mere 13% in its second lap in Sweden, tallying a superb $1.3 million, and dropped by 34% in its third in Australia, where its $5.2 million cume is fine, but tracking below the level expected, based on the stellar U.S. results.

Renny Harlin’s “Deep Blue Sea” devoured $693,000 on 54 in South Korea (Warner Bros.’ fourth-best bow), $431,000 on 67 in the Philippines despite torrential rain that dampened biz Friday in Manila, and $414,000 on 28 in Hong Kong, where it was overshadowed by “The Sixth Sense’s” $641,000 on 27.

‘Pie’ slices apeman

“Tarzan” ($54 million cume) swung into Australia with $1.4 million on 273, including previews, the third-highest animated preem behind “A Bug’s Life” and “Toy Story.” “Wild Wild West” ($85.4 million) cantered into Oz with a nifty but not record- breaking $1.2 million on 144, probably affected by “American Pie,” which garnered a lusty $862,000 in sneaks on 178 ahead of its Thursday launch “Eyes Wide Shut” opened at No. 1 in the U.K. with a respectable $1.9 million on 344 and checked into Germany in fourth spot with a lackluster $1.1 million on 407.

Stanley Kubrick’s sexual drama was comparatively stronger in its initial forays in Taiwan ($671,000 on 55, 17% ahead of “Interview with a Vampire”), Belgium ($361,000 on 77, 27% better than “Vampire”) and Austria ($210,000 on 50), taking pole position in all three markets. Through its soph session, the Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman pairing has a rousing $1.2 million in Brazil (off 24%) and $854,000 in Argentina; cume is $37.6 million.

“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” deep-sixed “Seven” to give New Line its best debut ever in Holland, nabbing $380,000 on 86, while in Japan the Mike Myers starrer eased by 22% in its third weekend, scoring a swell $5.5 million to date. Cume is $70.2 million.

“Notting Hill” pocketed $5.7 million on 2,550 screens, climbing to $184.3 million, including Japan’s classy $4.3 million in nine days (abating 14%) and France’s $16.5 million after 26 days.