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‘Core’ scores in Hong Kong, Thailand

'House,' 'Dreamcatcher,' 'Girl' bow Down Under

A fizzler at home and in Europe, “The Core” showed more spark in Asia over the weekend, dueling in some markets with “Tears of the Sun.”

Meanwhile, “Bringing Down the House,” “Dreamcatcher” and “What a Girl Wants” kicked off their international campaigns in Australia pretty well.

“The Core” drilled an estimated $312,000 on 28 screens in Singapore, including previews; $230,000 on 17 in Taipei, Taiwan; $216,000 in the Philippines; and $145,000 on 42 in Malaysia, with sneaks — No. 1 in all.

Sci-fier unearthed approximately $175,000 in Thailand and $167,000 in Hong Kong, good enough for top spot in a market where the B.O. has been flattened by the outbreak of the killer Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). In Germany, “The Core” collected an uninspiring $1 million on 527 locations.

Mixed results for ‘Tears’

“Tears of the Sun” captured an estimated $875,000 on 124 in South Korea, trailing the soph session of “Chicago”; and $660,000 on 300 in Mexico, surprisingly beaten by “The Hot Chick,” which scored $900,000 in its second lap (off just 14%), for a terrif $2.6 million in 10 days.

The Bruce Willis starrer drummed up $225,000 on 78 in Thailand, the No. 1 U.S. title, and $130,000 on 28 in Hong Kong.

Local historical epic “Ned Kelly” clung to pole position Down Under despite a worrying 44% plunge, fetching $880,000, bringing the 11-day total to a sturdy $2.9 million. The Heath Ledger/Orlando Bloom starrer is tracking 21% ahead of “A Knight’s Tale” but 22% below “The Patriot.”

“Bringing Down the House” picked up $810,000 on 187, ahead of “Dreamcatcher’s” $696,000 on 146 and “What a Girl Wants'” $597,000 on 169. Amanda Bynes starrer is nicely positioned to cash in on the school vacation, which begins next weekend.

‘Maid’ still cleaning up

“Maid in Manhattan” dished up a tidy $910,000 on 300 in Italy (trailing debutante “Daredevil”) and a top-ranked $280,000 on 65 in South Africa. Romantic comedy has pocketed $45.3 million in 43 territories and now ranks as a personal best for Jennifer Lopez internationally (toppling “The Cell’s” $42.6 million) as well as domestically. “Maid” is still to open in Spain, Japan, Brazil and Sweden.

“The Jungle Book 2” reigned in Germany, swinging to an estimated $5.6 million in 11 days, easing by 10%, and in Austria, tallying $900,000 in 10 days, up 20%. Toon drew a fine $535,000 on 137 in Italy (on par with the bows of “Atlantis” and “Lilo & Stitch”), and will expand to about 400 prints for the Easter holidays; cume hit $41 million.

“Shanghai Knights” mustered roughly $1.1 million on 367 in the U.K. in what BVI was projecting would be a close race for the lead with “The Recruit” in its second weekend. Spanish comedy “The Moscow Gold” eased by a moderate 27% in Spain, ringing up $1.1 million and a dandy $3 million after 10 days, No. 2 behind rookie “Just Married.”

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