Asia goes for ‘MI:2’; ‘Gladiator’ coins Euro

But 'Battlefield Earth' bombs abroad

While “Mission: Impossible 2” had socko international preems in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore and Asian auds flocked to “Shanghai Noon” last week, exhibs in much of Europe lamented that biz was thin below the high-powered “Gladiator.”

Typifying the Euro malaise, domestic dud “Battlefield Earth” bombed in seven territories, grossing a pitiful $1.5 million from 685 prints. In Italy, Spain, the U.K., Holland and Scandinavia, folks showed minimal interest in the John Travolta starrer, while critics were withering and in some cases rather personal.

“Travolta is hopeless at playing thorough baddies. He has a natural sweetness about him, a built-in soppiness and inherent stupidity that automatically suggests he is easily reduced to tears,” carped one U.K. reviewer.

In Oz, “Mission 2” bagged $4.8 million on 366, beating “Gladiator’s” bow by 5% and marking the territory’s third-highest opening week in history behind Fox juggernauts “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” and “Independence Day.” John Woo’s actioner nabbed $1 million on 39 in Singapore and $600,000 on 38 in Malaysia, UIP’s fourth-largest.

Asian arena

The Roman epic’s overseas cume soared to $107.3 million after a $23.5 million frame in 2,689 engagements in 19 countries — the eighth pic released this year to cross $100 million. In South Korea, “Gladiator” seized $2.3 million in five days on 83 screens, hailed by CJ Entertainment, DreamWorks’ Korean partner, as the biggest launch this year.

In Thailand, the Russell Crowe starrer fetched a splendid $505,000 in six days on 53.

High ‘Noon’

Jackie Chan’s army of fans flocked to “Shanghai Noon” in Hong Kong, shelling out $1.2 million on 36 for the biggest bow by a U.S. production this year behind local entries “Tokyo Raiders” and “2000 AD.”

“Noon” minted $835,000 in six days on 18 in Taiwan, a record for a Chan vehicle, topping “Rush Hour.” In Malaysia, pic abated by a typical 48%, scoring $1 million in two weeks. “Dinosaur” eased by a reasonable 30% in its soph session in Singapore, tallying an impressive $1 million.

“Mission to Mars” commanded top spot in Mexico with $911,000 in three days on 266, BVI’s fifth-best live-action preem. Brian De Palma’s sci-fier held better in Japan than in most other major markets, collecting $5.6 million in 12 days. The cume is $34.3 million, and it will be a stretch to reach domestic’s $60 million.

In Spain, one exhib noted that it was a terrible frame for cinemas not screening “Gladiator,” and that the only other moneymakers were rookie “The Waiting List,” a Cuban-set farce, and “Final Destination” in its second.

In Germany, “Three to Tango” kicked off its Euro campaign as a distant No. 2, behind “Gladiator’s” strong second lap..

Sub-par

In its first Euro date after solid perfs in Australasia, “U-571” had a mediocre debut in the U.K., pitched against “The Ninth Gate,” which was abysmal. Roman Polanski’s pic, which also stiffed in Japan, has cumed $37.7 million.

“American Beauty” finally reached $200 million for UIP, plus another $5 million in the kitty from CJE’s territories.

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