‘Apes’ top B.O. tree

Other pix face hairy competish o'seas

In some intriguing shootouts last week, “Jurassic Park III” was outgunned by animated phenom “Spirited Away” in Japan, “Cats & Dogs” outmuscled “Rush Hour 2” in the U.K. and Jet Li starrer “Kiss of the Dragon” was bested by a local actioner in Hong Kong.

But it was no contest for “Planet of the Apes,” which smashed various records for Fox in Latin America, South Korea and Sweden.

“Jurassic Park III” landed in Japan, collecting $8.9 million in five days on 276 screens, including Aug. 4 sneaks. Sequel’s $5.5 million opening weekend was 18% below that of “The Mummy Returns,” but 6% better than the “Apes” remake. Still, the flying dinos couldn’t catch Toho’s “Spirited Away,” which continued its hot streak, easing by a trifling 9% in its third weekend.

Dinos dine on

“Jurassic’s” German preem bettered that of the “Mummy” sequel by 11%, while Holland’s $901,000 on 83 was 26% ahead. But the Joe Johnston-helmed adventure showed wobbly legs in its soph sessions, tumbling 40% in Spain and 67% in Taiwan. All told, the raptors feasted on $31.3 million in 26 markets, propelling cume to $78.1 million.

“Mass hysteria, absolutely astonishing for the month of August,” is how one Teutonic booker described biz, lauding “Jurassic” and hot holdovers “Der Schuh des Manitu” (Constantin’s oater satire) and “Shrek.”

Outstripping expectations, “Cats & Dogs” notched Warner Bros.’ third-highest preem ever in Blighty behind “Batman & Robin” and “Batman Forever.” “Rush Hour 2” did not underperform; the Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan vehicle was given a hefty $3 million ad-pub push by distrib Entertainment, which chose to go day-and-date with domestic (although that ruled out getting exposure from previews) to take advantage of the summer vacation and get ahead of this Friday’s invasion of “Apes.” The U.K. campaign harped on the age-12 rating (the first “Rush Hour” had a 15 tag) and weekday biz showed word of mouth had kicked in, so New Line is confident the sequel will outgross the original’s $12.3 million there.

“Planet of the Apes” commanded $17.8 million from 1,985 screens in 16 countries, hoisting cume to $30.8 million just two weeks into its foreign trek. Tim Burton’s sci-fier notched a Fox record in Mexico with $4 million in six days on 547, beating the distrib’s best, “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace.” Bow was the industry’s second best behind “Dinosaur” and set territory highs in Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela.

Argentina’s $1.8 million on 98 ranked as the distrib’s third best and Korea’s $1.9 million in five days on 86 was its second highest. “Apes” recorded the highest opening in Sweden this year but in Taiwan trailed “Jurassic Park III.” It had a reasonable hold in Japan.

‘Kiss’ hot in Gaul

“Kiss of the Dragon” kicked butt in France, boosted by incessant hype for Luc Besson, pic’s co-writer and producer.

“Dragon” topped the charts in Malaysia (giving BVI its fourth-biggest preem), Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia (a BVI record in local currency). In Hong Kong, it was beaten by Johnnie To’s thriller “Full-Time Killer,” and it was overshadowed by the apes and dinos in Taiwan.

“Scary Movie 2” plummeted by a predictable 52% in its second round in France, where “Dr. Dolittle 2,” Antonio Banderas starrer “The Body” and “Save the Last Dance” all failed to shake the B.O.

Wrong prescription

With $33.4 million in the till from 28 markets, the “Dolittle” sequel isn’t matching its domestic trajectory, generally skewing young and yet ranking below such attractions as “Shrek” and “Cats & Dogs” for young auds. Eddie Murphy’s star has waned abroad after such misfires as “The Nutty Professor” sequel and “Life,” and he hasn’t been available to promote “Dolittle” overseas, which has not helped his cause.

Meanwhile, “Shrek” topped $138 million, helped by $10.2 million Korea’s (where it’s now the all-time animated champ, surpassing “The Lion King”) and Argentina’s $2 million in 13 days (slipping by a modest 28%).

“Pearl Harbor” hit $194.8 million, driven by Japan’s $32 million through its fourth lap; it’s on course to hit $200 million after weekend debuts in China and India. The WWII epic will be Disney’s fifth live-action blockbuster to reach that milestone, joining “Armageddon,” “Pretty Woman,” “The Rock” and “The Sixth Sense.”

“Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” ascended to $99 million late last week (including $21 million from Mutual’s territories), and by Tuesday should become the 11th hit to cross $100 million this year. Japan and Italy are the only major markets ahead.

After a respectable run in Mexico, “The Animal” ventured Down Under, benefiting from a promo visit by Rob Schneider, coming in as a strong No. 2 behind the socko second turn of “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”

True to form, “Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within” plunged by 58% after a pleasing debut in Oz. The computer-animated pic is fine for geeks, but “doesn’t deliver enough to appeal to broad audiences,” one booker said.

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