Sun shrinks ‘Mummy’

Italians ignore sequel for sunshine, Silvio

While “The Mummy Returns” saw a socko bow in Australia, response to the film was muted over the weekend in Italy, where hot, sunny weather (which flattened ticket sales across much of Europe) and the national elections kept minds and bodies elsewhere.

The Universal/UIP release unwrapped a tad under $2 million in three days on 392 screens in Italy. Theaters were virtually empty Friday night as folks stayed home to watch a televised debate between the main contenders.

Saturday business for Stephen Sommers’ pic, however, was 15% ahead of that for the first “Mummy,” and the Sunday figures were about even, so U/UIP is hoping for strong weekday numbers. As it was, the thriller accounted for 70% of the top 10’s box office Friday-Sunday. Pic’s predecessor wound up grossing a terrif $15.7 million in Italy, which suggests the second outing has the potential to equal or better that.

“The Mummy Returns” minted $2.7 million in four days on 349 Down Under — 43% higher than the original (which launched on 256) and UIP’s fourth-biggest opening there behind “Mission: Impossible II,” “Gladiator” and “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.” The Brendan Fraser/Rachel Weisz headliner commanded 61% of the top 20 titles’ receipts in Oz, facing no serious competition.

B.O. in the U.K. plunged by 60% over the weekend and the attrition rate was even higher in Germany. After a solid but far from outstanding world preem in Blighty, “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” tumbled by 53%, ringing up $1.1 million on 379, bringing the 10-day tally to $5.1 million.

The Nicolas Cage/Penelope Cruz starrer was a distant second behind “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” which earned $1.9 million in its fifth lap on 451 (off 51%), cuming a stellar $42.4 million. Aussie hit “The Dish” opened with a soft $309,000 on 187.

Lee Tamahori’s “Along Came a Spider” wove a mediocre $550,000 in five days on 201 in France (No. 2 behind local click “Amelie From Montmartre” in its third round) and an OK $143,000 in two days on 45 in Taiwan (ranking No. 1), but pic was blah in Belgium.

Miramax’s “Dracula 2000” placed third in France with a toothless $458,000 on 318; cume is a skimpy $8.8 million from 25 territories.

“The Wedding Planner” clung to pole position in Germany, despite a 58% drop, raking in $2.6 million in 11 days, and entered Mexico in second spot (behind local rookie “The Second Heir”) with a decent $540,000 on 200, just 11% below “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” But the Jennifer Lopez starrer hasn’t won many hearts in the rest of Latin America, where it’s pocketed just $1.7 million. “Men of Honor” bombed in Germany ($391,000 on 330); cume reached $26 million.

Spain drain

As a barometer of the B.O. depression in Spain, Fox’s comedy “Say It Isn’t So” ruled in its second outing, fetching $565,000 on 224 (down a modest 18%), yocking up $1.4 million in 10 days.

New Line’s “15 Minutes” topped the chart in Argentina, clocking a muscular $458,000 in four days on 47. Cume is $19.2 million and could catch domestic’s unimpressive $24.3 million after bows this weekend in Japan and Australia.

Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Enemy at the Gates” captured a ho-hum $144,000 in four days on 16 in Hong Kong and was buried on 15 screens in Argentina.