Spidey bow leaves no room for competish

'Shrek,' 'Harry' still making money abroad

There were spectacular uplifts in many territories last week as “Shrek 2” enthralled Europe and “Spider-Man 2” triumphed in Asia, Latin America and Australia, but some exhibs griped that the juggernauts sucked the life out of almost everything else.

Take Spain, where one booker said “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” in its third stanza was the only other title to earn decent money. The green ogre devoured 67% of the market as it smashed UIP’s opening record, boosted by Antonio Banderas’ clever voicing of Puss in Boots.

The toon’s third chapter in Australia proved formidable competition for the Spidey sequel, whose opening week trailed the original’s by 17%. However Sony was confident the second edition would catch up with the benefit of another week of school vacation.

“Shrek 2” harvested $78.7 million from roughly 4,700 screens in 30 markets July 2-4, repping the eighth biggest weekend internationally. The family pic’s cume through July 6 rocketed to $196 million, tracking 201% ahead of its predecessor, which points to an eventual tally well north of $400 million for the follow-up. How close it gets to $500 million will hinge largely on Japan, where it bows July 24 and where UIP/DreamWorks is confident it will be far more potent than “Shrek,” which pocketed just $18 million there.

Fairy tale voiced by Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz recorded the highest first weekend ever in the U.K. (excluding sneaks), dethroning “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” and causing a 259% spike in the market’s B.O. from the prior frame.

Pic set an industry record in Poland and new highs for UIP in Holland and Israel. Its German preem ranked as the distrib’s sixth biggest locally, but Teutonic exhibs weren’t disappointed, noting animation is still viewed primarily as appealing to kids, and this pic is generating terrific word of mouth and should get plenty of repeat business.

Blockbuster held superbly in its soph sessions in France, Belgium, Switzerland, South Africa and Venezuela. Ticket sales in Gaul dropped by 50% as many folks tuned into the Euro 2004 soccer finals. The German B.O. shot up by 77% and Spain gained 63%.

“Spider-Man 2” spun $43 million from 4,138 prints in 28 territories, in aggregate 9% bigger than the first Spidey’s entries in those markets. Its cume through July 6 flew to $55.3 million, seemingly well on the way to topping the original’s $418 million international total.

Sam Raimi-helmed adventure notched the third-highest debut ever in Mexico behind the bows of “Shrek 2” and 10% below “Spider-Man,” and set industry records in most other parts of Latin America and Asia. Also impressive were its debuts in Russia (the industry’s seventh biggest), Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, where it posted the second best opening of all time behind, of all things, “The Passion of the Christ.”

“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” minted an estimated $26.2 million from more than 8,460 screens in 50 countries, down just 36% from the prior weekend, and its cume climbed to $376.3 million. The Hogwarts saga appears headed for $500 million if it can maintain its trajectory in Japan, where it’s racked up a phenom $40.5 million in 11 days. U.K. bookers are delighted with its five-week haul but doubt it will catch “Chamber of Secrets,” which it trails by around £13 million ($24 million).

Receipts in Italy slumped by 25% to one of its lowest ebbs of the year, with exhibs complaining there’ll be a product famine until “Spider-Man 2” arrives Sept. 16. “The Punisher” took top spot in Italy with the kind of desultory numbers that normally would rank in the bottom half of the top 10. “Ugly, very ugly,” said one programmer as he surveyed the summer landscape.

Rookie “Dawn of the Dead” showed some bite in France, surprising exhibs who had minimal expectations. Zombie pic has captured a tidy $39 million, including the U.K.’s $10.4 million and Japan’s $6 million.

“50 First Dates” wasn’t engaging in France, where Adam Sandler is little known. However, the romantic comedy has wooed a respectable $68.7 million, and with Japan and a few small markets ahead should nose past “Big Daddy’s” $71.3 million to become Sandler’s biggest hit abroad.

Christian Kohl in Cologne, Archie Thomas in London, Sheri Jennings in Rome, Norma Nebot in Madrid and Liza Klaussmann in Paris contributed to this report.

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