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Blockbusters blah at Euro B.O.

'Hurricane' makes opening waves in Oz, Mexico, Brazil

A combo of Oscar-nominated films that aren’t drawing crowds — and a dearth of potent releases — resulted in blah business in most of Europe last week, except for France, where two local heroes and a three-day film promotion perked up box office.

Exhibs in the U.K. and Germany described the frame as the worst of the year, with one Teutonic booker griping, “We are totally frustrated. The figures are terrible and there are no blockbusters.”

Among the few high points: “The Hurricane” punched up its strongest offshore opening thus far in Australia and threw a solid combination in Mexico and Brazil.

“Toy Story 2” ascended to $203.6 million, powered by a $10.8 million frame, primarily from Japan’s terrif $12.1 million in 12 days and the U.K.’s phenom $64.5 million. Buzz and Woody have ruled the Blighty B.O. for six straight weekends, the longest reign of any film there since “Titanic’s” 12-week triumph.

‘Cider’ press

Despite its Oscar noms, “The Cider House Rules” has not developed anything resembling its domestic momentum, having squeezed out just $8.6 million from 22 markets. Lasse Hallstrom’s drama garnered rave reviews in Germany and decent figures for what is perceived as an arthouse film, but its 10-screen London platform was just fair. In Italy, pic had a steady soph session on 91 prints and expanded March 24 to 150 in expectation of Academy Award success.

“The Talented Mr. Ripley” has also failed to grab cinemagoers’ imagination, mustering $31.7 million from 35 markets. The Matt Damon/Gwyneth Paltrow starrer had a tepid launch in Italy. Its opening received wide media coverage, but felt a backlash from some critics, who faulted its stereotypical view of the La Belle Italia.

“Magnolia” got across-the-board raves in Italy, but the praise wasn’t echoed by ticket sales. The New Line pic, however, had an encouraging debut at one London showcase ahead of its nationwide rollout.

Janet McTeer’s contention for Oscar’s best actress prize failed to give “Tumbleweeds” a profile in Italy, where it was blandly retitled “In Search of Love.”

In Blighty, “Being John Malkovich” had a solid start at 55 sites, while the re-release of Stanley Kubrick’s “A Clockwork Orange” didn’t generate much enthusiasm, and “Ordinary Decent Criminal,” Thaddeus Sullivan’s pic about an Irish gangster, toplining Kevin Spacey, was D.O.A. after a sterling run in the Republic.

‘Insider’ sales

“The Insider” is proving a tough sell for mainstream auds, reflected by its middling debut in France, where it trailed Gallic hit “Le Gout des Autres” in its third lap and rookie “Le Libertin.” a raunchy costumer pairing Vincent Perez as 18th century writer-philosopher Diderot and Fanny Ardant. Michael Mann’s pic had a lively bow in Belgium and abated by 26% in the U.K. for a reasonable $1.8 million in 13 days; “Insider’s” cume is $20 million.

A clever campaign by distrib Roadshow, which played down the pugilistic angle and boosted awareness via charity previews, helped give “The Hurricane” a muscular $1.3 million opener on 174 rings in Australia. From a handful of markets, the Denzel Washington starrer’s cume is $7.7 million.

The resilient “American Beauty” surged to $127 million on the back of a $10 million frame in 27 markets. Another pic that’s displaying more potency abroad than domestically, “The Beach” nabbed $6 million from 32 countries and its cume hit $73.2 million. Suffering another case of wobbly legs, the Leonardo DiCaprio starrer plunged 48% after a strong opening in Australia. Its standout perfs are the U.K.’s $20 million and France’s $11.5 million.

Marching ‘Mile’

“The Green Mile” minted $10.7 million in 31 territories, propelling its cume to $55.4 million. The Tom Hanks starrer outperformed “The Truman Show” as it marched into Turkey, Uruguay and the Philippines, and beat “A Perfect World” in Singapore.

Robin Williams’ charms in “Bicentennial Man” piqued little interest in France, Belgium and Israel; cume is a meager $21.4 million from 25 territories, with Australia’s $6.9 million and Mexico’s $2.7 million the best of the bunch.

After bombing in Australia, Mexico, Turkey, Portugal and a bunch of other small markets in Europe, “The Man on the Moon” opened soft in Spain and France. Thus far, auds appear indifferent to the Andy Kaufman bio, despite Jim Carrey’s marquee name.

“Double Jeopardy” reached $42.1 million, spurred by Spain’s solid $1.1 million in six days on 220, and fair preems in Poland and Finland. “Three Kings” moved up to $38.4 million in 29 countries, helped by a buoyant bow in Belgium.

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