‘Clones’ racks up top overseas sesh

'Spider-Man,' 'Star Wars' garner over $110 mil

When two blockbusters generate more than $110 million combined overseas in a bit less than one week, you can tell the pre-summer season is cooking.

Yet some Euro exhibs were griping last week that attendance was very thin for just about every title below the juggernaut “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones.”

There were no complaints from Latin America, however, where “Spider-Man” spun unheard-of opening figures. And Euro tradesters won’t have to wait long for the summer onslaught, with “Spidey” rolling out next month.

“Attack of Clones” conjured up $69.1 million on 5,854 screens in 72 territories May 16-19 — the highest-grossing weekend ever abroad, beating “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’s” $62.3 million from 8,524 prints in 37 countries last December.

Through May 21, the sci-fier’s cume reached a dazzling $83.4 million George Lucas’ epic registered the second-highest entries ever in the U.K., Germany and Spain (behind the boy wiz), Singapore (trailing “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”) and New Zealand (after “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”.)

One U.K. booker admitted he’d been a bit concerned about its prospects because he rated “Episode One” as a disappointment which was dogged by poor word of mouth.

“The franchise is back on course — a terrific performance,” he declared.

Largely due to “Clones” and with a bit of help from resilient holdover “About a Boy,” the frame was the fourth-best of the past 12 months in Blighty, where ticket sales through the end of April are running 20% up on the same period last year, despite a dip in April compared with the same month in 2000 when “Bridget Jones’s Diary” was flying high.

In Germany, one programmer hailed “Clones'” “gigantic” start, which was boosted by a public holiday May 20, but lamented that without it, biz would have been poor.

“Iris” debuted at No. 9 in Germany despite selling just 26,000 tickets, while Norway’s Oscar nominee “Elling” is achieving sleeper status, earning a top 10 berth in its third outing.

The Jedi Knights’ invasion in France bettered “Phantom Menace’s” bow by 18% and saw the local B.O. surge by 30% over the previous week and by 96% over the same week last year.

On the back of its Cannes preem, Woody Allen’s “Hollywood Ending” was the only other meaningful earner in Gaul, where the helmer is revered, without being exceptional. Gallic tradesters are looking ahead to “Spidey’s” June 12 bow and speculating on whether it or “Clones” will turn out to be the bigger hit.

Lucasfilm’s pic set a four-day industry record in Australia (although the full week was a bit below the “Sorcerer”) and new highs in Russia (coining $2.2 million in five days on 110) and Hungary ($845,000 on 37).

The Jedis weren’t as impressive in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Malaysia (merely ranking as Fox’s third-highest opener in each case) or Italy.

The three Asian markets are still blighted by video piracy, although one tradester in Taipei said the film suffered against the webslinger’s third frame and from the low-key media campaign and minimal promotions mandated by Lucasfilm, and mixed word of mouth for its predecessor.

Benefiting from the biggest-ever print runs in Latin America, “Spider-Man” set industry milestones in every significant Latino territory except Ecuador.

The comic book-inspired hero captured $10.7 million in five days on 1,100 screens in Mexico (eclipsing previous champ “Dinosaur”), $4.3 million on 607 in Brazil (thrashing “Harry”), $987,000 in six days on 50 in Chile, $965,000 on 75 in Venezuela and $764,000 in six days on 163 in Argentina (in local currency, nudging out “Titanic”).

The Tobey Maguire headliner racked up $30.2 million on 3,578 prints in 31 territories, hoisting cume to $73.4 million through May 21.

In Japan, “Spidey” dropped by a trifling 8% in its soph session (excluding the first weekend’s previews), pocketing a stellar $21 million in 11 days.

In just its third laps, the Sam Raimi-helmed adventure already has already grossed more than any other title in history in the Philippines (taking $3 million), and Malaysia ($2 million).

“Panic Room” checked into Japan as a solid No. 2, trapping $3.6 million in four days, including sneaks. The thriller has fetched a dandy $53.1 million in 31 countries.

Pitched against the above firepower, distribs released a few titles as sacrificial lambs with predictably blah results. The luckless lot included “The Majestic” in Oz, “Hart’s War” and “40 Days and 40 Nights” in Korea, “Hearts in Atlantis” in Japan and the aptly-named “Frailty” in France.

(Lee Simkins in London, Liza Klaussmann in Paris and Christian Kohl in Cologne contributed to this report.)