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Europe awaits ‘T3’ after boffo Asian debut

Arnold comeback a hit in Taiwan, Japan

The U.K. is a fair barometer of the summer season abroad thus far — and it’s not high. Blighty exhibs describe the market as flat and “littered by disappointments,” the latest being “The Hulk’s” preem.

True, the Blighty B.O. improved by 60% in the July 18-20 frame but that was a correction after the prior weekend was zapped by a heatwave. Receipts in Spain shot up 40% thanks to milder weather and newbies “28 Days Later” and “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas.” But Germany experienced one of its weakest sessions of the year, down nearly 11% on the previous week.

Still, all of Europe except Russia awaits “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” which had minted an estimated $55 million in 20 markets through July 22. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comeback vehicle notched the industry’s 10th biggest preem in Australia, the seventh largest in New Zealand and the second best this year in Taiwan, 12% below “The Matrix Reloaded.”

Sci-fier held stoutly in its soph sesh in Japan although it surrendered the lead to “Bayside Shakedown 2,” sequel to 1998’s hit local cop action/comedy. “T3” experienced typically fast burns after thumping bows in Southeast Asia but it’s racked up a stellar $9.6 million after three weeks in Russia.

“Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle” became the 12th title to cross $100 million this year, surging to $110 million in 49 territories. It’s tracking strongly enough to exceed $150 million, despite steep drops in its second outings in Germany, Spain and Mexico.

One Teutonic booker observed: “It has enjoyed a bit of a following but it’s not a cult franchise. People realize it’s really nothing new.”

The “Angels” sequel skipped into France 8% below the original in euros but 21% ahead in dollars, and it wasn’t flash in Belgium, 20% less in local coin.

“The Hulk” has muscled its way to $74.1 million in 36 countries. It’ll beat the $100 million mark but by how much won’t be clear until after its Aug. 2 launch in Japan. The big green guy registered Universal’s 10th biggest debut in Blighty, boosted by previews, but it was savaged by crix who said it doesn’t pack enough action for the core audience or a sufficiently plausible plot to entice auds who wouldn’t normally see actioners.

U.S. franchises aren’t the only ones wearing out their welcome abroad. Animated pic “Werner — Gekotzt wird spaeter!” (“Werner — Puke Later!”), the fourth saga of a beer-guzzling German biker, based on a cult comicbook, didn’t draw many folks in Germany. One exhib mused, “A lot of its original fans have grown older and it may simply not interest younger viewers.”

“Bruce Almighty” delivered yet more career-best openings for Jim Carrey in Mexico and Sweden. After four weeks the Spyglass comedy ranks as BVI’s second biggest live-action pic in the U.K. behind “The Sixth Sense.” “Bruce’s” cume zoomed to $137 million in 28 markets, including four Spyglass territories.

In swashbuckling start to its offshore voyage, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” captured $510,000 in six days on 103 screens in Argentina. In local currency and admissions that was a record for producer Jerry Bruckheimer and BVI’s second highest entry behind “Unbreakable.”

“Finding Nemo” set an animation opening high in Hong Kong, edging out “Toy Story 2,” as one local booker predicted the July B.0. will beat the same month last year by 15%. That marks a recovery as June was affected by the aftermath of the SARS virus and poor retailing conditions.

“Nemo” has caught $38.8 million in just 16 territories, mostly in Asia and Latin America. With $13.8 million in the till after 20 days in Mexico, it’s BVI’s third most popular toon there behind “Monsters, Inc.” and “Dinosaur.”

British horror pic “28 Days Later’s” triumph in Spain impressed local exhibs who see it as a specialty item. A patchy performer, Fox release has scared up an impressive $9.8 million in its home market but it’s been so-so in Germany and just horrible in France, Italy, Holland and Belgium. Cume is $21.3 million in 31 markets.

“Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas” was buoyant in Spain but overshadowed by “Nemo” in Mexico and soft in Holland and Argentina. DreamWorks’ toon sailed nicely through its soph sessions in South Korea and France, and its estimated cume reached $14.3 million in 17 countries.

Italian execs are disappointed with the lukewarm response to “The Italian Job,” which was beaten in its second sojourn by rookie “Darkness Falls.” Despite sweltering heat, a drought in the north and blackouts in Rome, one Italo programmer said: ”Our market overall is stable in respect to last year. Even without a ‘Spider-Man,’ films in the top 10 spots have had longer runs and bigger earnings than films last year.”

(Archie Thomas in London, Ed Meza in Berlin, Emiliano de Pablos in Madrid and Sheri Jennings in Rome contributed to this report.)

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