Copyright 2001

[ November 5th 2001 ]

Big films scored in small markets last week while the B.O. drooped in most major territories, suffering from a paucity of compelling new releases. Among the sparse highlights, "The Others" wowed Hong Kong, "American Pie 2" was a riot in Norway and Sweden, and "Moulin Rouge" lit up South Korea.

Two U.S. films world preemed with very mixed results. Launched on 140 screens in the U.K., Joel and Ethan Coen's "The Man Who Wasn't There" ranked No. 1 in the capital and was the Coens' second-highest opener in Blighty, behind "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Exhibs said the Billy Bob Thornton/Frances McDormand starrer was a sizable draw at upscale locations but less alluring in multiplexes.

The Gary Fleder-helmed "Impostor," featuring Gary Sinise and Madeleine Stowe, blended into the background in Japan, released on 110 prints by Gaga. Miramax is discounting that result and intends to give the futuristic thriller a wide release domestically at Christmas.

The frame's top earner, the "American Pie" sequel, minted $14 million from 2,242 engagements in 15 countries, hoisting cume to $77.3 million. Laffer grabbed $749,000 in six days on 40 in Norway (14% ahead of the original and 75% better than "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me") and $517,000 on 50 in Sweden (60% up on the first "Pie").

"A.I. Artificial Intelligence" had a spirited bow in France, its last major stop, beating "Cast Away" by 80%, but it couldn't unseat the soph session of the rampaging "Pie." The sci-fier posted Warner Bros.' biggest debut of the year in Belgium; its total uploaded to $147.7 million.

Buoyed by school vacation, some 4 million people visited cinemas in France last week, the healthiest turnout since the Fete du Cinema ticket promotion in June. "Moulin Rouge" rang up $1.1 million in six days on 98 in South Korea, Fox's biggest nonholiday opening ever there, and held well in its second round in Germany. Tuner's cume hit $82.5 million.

The Michael Douglas starrer "Don't Say a Word" had a mediocre preem Down Under, trailing "The Man Who Sued God," a comedy headlining Billy Connolly as a fisherman who sues the Almighty after his boat is destroyed by lightning. "Word" was No. 1 in a weak frame in Brazil and was trounced in Hong Kong by "The Others."

"The Princess Diaries" saw lively biz in its second chapter in Mexico, but the Disney pic didn't translate in France, Italy or Hong Kong. The Keanu Reeves/Charlize Theron coupling "Sweet November" wooed a handy $2.8 million in five days in Japan, its last major market, behind local champ "Spirited Away." A flop in the rest of Asia, Australia, the U.K. and France, and an O.K. performer in Germany, Brazil, Italy and Spain, "November" has cumed a modest $20.5 million.

"The Score" scored in Spain and had a decent second outing in Italy. More than halfway through its foreign travels, the Robert De Niro headliner has about $22 million in the till -- not tracking anywhere near as strongly as at home, where it banked $71 million.

It was an off week at the Spanish wickets, where not even Antonio Banderas could save "Original Sin" from itself; "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" attracted little attention, limited to just 20 screens in Madrid and Barcelona; and "The Pledge" stiffed. But Spanish exhibs were cheered by "Amelie's" juicy second lap and local sleeper "Mad Love," the saga of lovestruck 16th century monarch Joan the Mad.

"Along Came a Spider" drew a fair number of thrill-seekers in Italy, where films of that genre like "The Bone Collector," "Double Jeopardy" and "Kiss the Girls" go down well. In general, however, the Morgan Freeman/Monica Potter starrer hasn't caught fire overseas, cuming about $27 million, with Japan the only major market on the horizon.

Joel Schumacher's Vietnam-set "Tigerland" was greeted with strong reviews but public indifference in Italy; timing's probably bad for a war movie. Gallic comedy "Le Placard," snappily retitled "Appearance Deceives," drew a tepid response in Italy and is unlikely to match the popularity of "The Dinner Game."

Italo biz didn't get much uplift from local rookies "Santa Maradona," a comedy-drama about a young graduate's attempts to pass from student life into the working world. Also tepid was "Three Wives," Marco Risi's comedy about three femmes who travel to Argentina to trace their errant husbands.

"The Mummy Returns" has pocketed a fine $2.2 million in 17 days in China, where "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider" stumbled with $312,000 in five days on 157. That's a rare blemish for the Angelina Jolie vehicle, which has earned $128.5 million abroad, with Italy still ahead.

"Pearl Harbor" is the year's top grosser in China with $12.4 million, helping to push its cume to $250 million.

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