In Japan, ‘Lord’ runs rings around rivals

Fantasy nabs $10 mil from 600 screens in two days

Japanese moviegoers were spoiled for heavyweight choice this past weekend with the release of Buena Vista Intl.’s toon “Monsters, Inc.” and “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” through Nippon Herald and Shochiku.

Despite its lengthy running time, “Rings” ramshackled the competition to pull about $10 million from 600 screens in two days. Total, which includes $1.5 million from the previous weekend’s sneaks, wasn’t enough to beat boy wizard “Harry Potter’s” boffo $11 million Japanese preem, which also included sneaks. “Lord” is now ringing up overseas receipts of $465 million.

The Japanese also warmly welcomed “Monsters, Inc.,” which pulled an estimated $4 million over the two-day weekend, on course to beat BVI’s “Dinosaur” and set a new record for a non-Japanese animated feature. The total B.O. is double “Shrek’s” opening weekend and 35% more than “Toy Story 2.” “Monsters” joins an elite club of Disney-produced animated features including “The Lion King,” “Aladdin,” “Toy Story 2” and “Tarzan” to earn more than $400 million in worldwide B.O.

Elsewhere, “A Beautiful Mind” continued to enjoy strong premieres, most remarkably in Australia where “sneak previews” of the pic on 280 prints garnered top spot and $948,000 — $200,000 more than “Black Hawk Down” in its second lap on the same number of screens.

In Austria and Germany, Ron Howard’s Oscar-nommed realization of John Nash’s story also opened strongly, with Jack-the-Ripper-tale “From Hell” the only other weighty market entrant. In Germany, “A Beautiful Mind” earned almost $1.3 million from 336 screens in four days, a whisker ahead of opening B.O. for previous Oscar contender “Shakespeare in Love,” released the same time of year. “From Hell,” boldly released on 353, earned about $900,000 over three days. In Austria the two pics earned roughly $99,000 each in two days with “A Beautiful Mind’s” numbers matching the “Shakespeare in Love” benchmark.

In Blighty, “Mind’s” broad debut, after platforming in the West End, seized about $1.6 million from 376 in three days for a cume of $2.1 million. In Spain pic fell off just 14% in lap two.

“Black Hawk Down” opened on top in Colombia, Bolivia, Peru and South Africa and held nicely for lap two in New Zealand (-32%), Mexico (-28%) and Chile (-21%). “Shallow Hal” held the top spot in Mexico in week three at the expense of the premiere of “A Beautiful Mind,” which earned about $611,000 from 170.

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