Spring has sprung

'Nature' tops in lackluster frame at foreign B.O.

SYDNEY — Foreign exhibs are still wondering what auds are doing this spring because with few exceptions they’re not going to the movies.

With B.O. slow to the point of almost torpor, and World Cup cricket drawing some auds, the few preems skedded were largely unimpressive last weekend, leaving the Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck comic two-step “Forces of Nature” to settle comfortably into the top spot in its sophomore sesh across Germany, the U.K., and Oz, and for its first week preem in Spain where the pic bowed an unimpressive $629,578 off 159 screens.

“Forces” proved a natural champ in Holland with a promising $158,454 on 27, 65% north of “Practical Magic.” However pic’s soph sesh atop the U.K. was no stomper at $812,158 from 328 for a Blighty cume of $2.436 million, with the paling teen horror of “Still Know What You Did Last Summer” also sliding 40% after one week to second on $785,835 off 279, local cume 2.589 million.

Bowing No. 2 in Italy with a soft $232,907 on 79, “Forces” outsang the post-Cannes fourth place preem of “Barber of Siberia” at $140,428 from 94, but was unable to topple the top ranking “The Matrix” on a second week gross of $974,919 off 161. “Barber” did, however, hit the top spot in Paris where it was No.1 over five days with a mere $80,263 from 59, beating cult sci-fi pic “The Cube” ranked second in its third week from $39,572 off 30 and local preem “Pola X” with $19,736 off 32.

‘Nature’s’ course

Meanwhile “Forces” continues to wear the crown in Germany and Oz on $1,870,408 from 354 and $839,332 from 208 respectively. In second place the Germans “Still Know” to the tune of $1,320,288 on 288 after three weeks, cume $4.95 million, with “The Rugrats Movie” barely bowing in sixth place on a mere $495,108 from 348, international cume $38.1 million.

Also ranked second in its sixth Oz week, “Matrix” netted $629,183 from 222, for a flashy Down Under cume of $12 million). Entering its third week in third place, knockabout Oz comedy “The Craic” continues to deliver the laughs at the rate of $675,000 off 151, down only 25%.

Reunited family drama “Deep End of the Ocean” also bowed Oz for fourth place, barely floating with $281,000 on 95, while fame proved illusive for Woody Allen’s “Celebrity,” a typically low-key preem at $118,000 from 21.

‘Crime’ doesn’t pay

More disappointing was the deathly Oz bow of Clint Eastwood’s “True Crime,” ranked eighth with only $180,000 on 74 screens. This reflected pic’s fifth place U.K. bow for only $308,537 from 101.

Eastwood’s pic did marginally better in its Greek bow at 49,034 off 13, and also recorded slight increases across its second and third weeks in Holland and Germany, up respectively 27% to $69,177 on 20 and $19.5% for $343,202 from 146. But interest in “Crime” fell 18.7% in Brazil for $92, 213 off 31 and 3.4% for pic’s fourth week in France, nabbing only $573,113 from 264.

“Arlington Road” suffered a similar fate in Spanish preems, taking second spot for a mere $479,352 on 164.

In Korea, “Matrix” executed a magnificent $1.1 million bow on 58, the biggest preem of the year and Warners’ best opening there ever 181% ahead of previous record holder “Lethal Weapon 4.” Italy, Denmark and Malaysia also had strong second “Matrix” weeks downloading $1,136,569 from 322, $211,096 off 41 and $153, 263 on 52 respectively.

Malaysia was quite keen on “Shakespeare in Love,” bowing 31,178 off nine over four days, with Japan still lovesick for the Bard in second place after three weeks on $454,509 from 22. Likewise, Mel Gibson actioner “Payback” bowed Japan promisingly with a knockout top ranking $799,633 on 26, although Japanese figures are for nine key cities over two days only.

Back in the U.K., Adam Sandler’s “The Waterboy” fell to third place for its third week adding $600,000 more to the international $20.4 million cume.

Gritty Reese Witherspoon crime drama “Best Laid Plans” also had its first opening anywhere in the U.K., with a mild $418,149 gross off 200, which may not bode well for the pic’s future.