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‘Jones’ tops o’seas B.O.

'Incredibles' hot in Asia; 'Howl' moves Japan

Japan is the hottest offshore market in the world right now as animation maestro Hayao Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle” amassed a stellar $14.3 million on 448 screens last weekend, accounting for 72% of the territory’s B.O.

Fantasy focusing on the romance between a magician and an 18-year-old girl trapped in an old woman’s body posted the industry’s third-biggest preem behind the second and first editions of “Harry Potter.” Latest pic from the “Spirited Away” and “Princess Mononoke” helmer will be released by Disney domestically and in France and Southeast Asia.

Local heart-tugger “Be With You” stood up remarkably well to “Castle,” pocketing $2.6 million in its fourth frame, dropping just 21%, elevating its cume to a strapping $22.6 million.

Underscoring a purple patch for Japanese cinema, six of the top seven titles in the territory are home-grown.

Overall, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” was the weekend’s champ overseas, while “The Incredibles” smashed toon records in Singapore and Malaysia and “Alien vs. Predator” was brawny in Spain and Italy.

Seducing auds

“Bridget” seduced $20.6 million from 1,854 playdates in 18 territories, raising cume to $59 million. Renee Zellweger/Colin Firth headliner launched in nine markets led by Spain’s $2.6 million, Norway’s $1 million, Sweden’s $734,000, New Zealand’s $605,000 and Denmark’s $530,000. All were significantly bigger than the bows of “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” and it was No. 1 in each except Sweden, where it was shaded by “The Incredibles'” soph session.

In its second stanzas, singleton saga helmed by Beeban Kidron rang up $9.3 million in the U.K. (easing by 29%, excluding previews), hoisting the total to a socko $38.4 million; and it minted $2.5 million in Oz, off 42%, for a local cume of $8.1 million.

“The Incredibles” drew $797,000 in Singapore (36% ahead of “Finding Nemo”), $550,000 in Malaysia (50% bigger than prior animated champ “Dinosaur”) and $280,000 in its platform at two London venues. Through its second weekends, Pixar pic has pocketed a juicy $2.2 million in Sweden (off 34%), $1.9 million in Taiwan (slipping by 25%) and $1.5 million in Denmark (down 41%). After just two weekends at the 2,000-seat Grand Rex in Paris, “Incredibles” has racked up $644,000 and on Sunday it notched 14,200 admissions, a single-day theater record in the country.

Beginning its offshore journey, “The Polar Express” whistled up a fair $925,000 in four days in Australia, generating most of its biz at the weekend, which fits the pattern of young-skewing fare. The Tom Hanks starrer opened 15% higher than “Elf” and Warner/Roadshow is hoping for a leggy run as the pic has no competition in the family film category until “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” arrives Dec. 16.

Monster battle

“Alien vs. Predator” devoured $2.4 million in Spain, a top-ranked $1.6 million in Italy and $367,000 in Denmark. With $67.4 mil in the till, Fox’s creature feature could catch domestic’s $78.9 million depending on how it fares next month in Japan, its last major market.

The monsters sent “Exorcist: The Beginning” into a downward spiral in its second turn in Italy, but the prequel snared a solid $1.2 million on just 163 prints in France. However, the demon saga barely yelped in Germany, limited to 87 screens.

“After the Sunset” brought in a respectable $1.2 million in the U.K., its first major market, plus $299,000 in Greece and $180,000 in Thailand.

“The Manchurian Candidate” collected a moderate $1.1 million in Blighty, and it’s mustered a neat $2.6 million in 10 days in Italy (off only 18%) and a mediocre $1.9 million in 11 days in Germany.

“Shall We Dance” waltzed along to $41.9 million in just 17 territories, driven by Greece’s nifty $425,000 opener, Mexico’s $1.3 million in 10 days, Spain’s so-so $4.9 million, Germany’s terrif $9.2 million, Italy’s $11.9 million and Oz’s $6.5 million; it will soon overtake domestic’s $52.3 million.

‘Daggers’ nails France

After capturing a lucrative $20.3 million in Japan, “House of Flying Daggers” grabbed a feisty $1.45 million in France, trailing Warners’ wartime drama “A Very Long Engagement,” which earned $2.8 million in its fourth sojourn, lifting its cume to $29 million.

Checking cumes, “Shark Tale” swam along to $145 million; “The Village” levitated to $141 million, driven by Turkey’s lusty $491,000 preem; “Collateral” hit $108.9 million; and “The Terminal” ascended to $98.8 million.

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