‘Harry’ works magic overseas

Warners finds 'Potter' of gold in U.K. bow

Mirroring its record-shattering domestic preem, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (known as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the States) mesmerized the U.K. over the weekend, ringing up a spellbinding $22.8 million from 1,168 prints, according to Warner Bros’ Sunday estimates.

That tally, which includes $9.6 million from the previous weekend’s sneaks, eclipsed the opening weekend record held by “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” (which earned 9.5 million pounds, with previews, in 1999) by 68%. Last Saturday’s $5.5 million bounty stands as the U.K.’s biggest single-day gross, beating the same pic’s takings just one week earlier. Sans sneaks, the opening weekend of 9.3 million pounds ($13.2 million) beat “Toy Story 2’s” first weekend of wide release by 19%.

Warner was projecting a Sunday total of $4.7 million, which would be a record Sunday, topping the “Toy Story” sequel. The 1,168 print release was the widest-ever in the UK., surpassing “Phantom Menace’s” 779 prints and “Pearl Harbor’s” 750.

“Harry Potter” also caught fire in Taiwan, nabbing an estimated $2.3 million on 58 screens — a local record for WB and and industry’s biggest non-holiday opening.

In Taipei, the Chris Columbus-helmed fantasy drummed up approximately $1.1 million at 16 theaters, outrunnning the debuts of “Phantom Menace,” “The Matrix” and “Men in Black.”

Elsewhere, the B.O. wasn’t nearly as luminous. “Legally Blonde” courted an estimated $2.1 million in four days on 412 prints, including previews, in Germany, which Fox hailed Sunday as the market leader. However it appeared to be a close race betweeen the comedy and the soph session of “Scary Movie 2,” which pocketed $1.6 million Thursday-Saturday on a much-wider release on 623.

The Reese Witherspoon starrer did seize pole position in Spain, fetching roughly $591,000 in three days on 200. The curtain went up on Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge” in Japan, its last major market, resulting in a fair $1 million in two days on 233, slightly better than the bows of “Autumn in New York” and the helmer’s “Romeo + Juliet.” Fox is heartened by pre-release tracking showing high awareness and want-to-see among teen girls and believes it will have a leggy run, as happened in most other territories. The distrib expects the foreign cume to reach $100 million any day now.

“A Knight’s Tale” cantered into France with a modest $550,000 in four days, trailing fellow debunante “My Wife is an Actress,” romantic comedy written and helmed by thesp Yvan Attal, which Sony Pictures has domestically. Rogue cop saga “Training Day” opened fire Down Under with a decent $990,000 in four days on 157, trailing “The Others” which abated by 32%, taking a potent $2.7 million in 11 days.

In its third lap “The Others” dominated Mexico, spooking an estimated $558,000 Friday-Saturday on 251, dwarfing freshmen “Rat Race” (a mediocre $226,000 on 195) and “Training Day” (an even softer $206,000 on 195). In its first major market tryouts, Fox’s teen thriller “Joy Ride” opened at No. 1 in a slow frame in Belgium with $160,000 on 79 and was OK in Mexico ($250,000 in three days on 149) and Brazil ($200,00 on 79).