European box office sweats out hot weather : LUSENET : TitanicShack : One Thread

SYDNEY (Variety) - A combo of cinema-unfriendly hot weather and lukewarm product had European movie theater owners griping last week, with one German executive describing business as a "catastrophe." But the tide was expected to turn over the May 15-17 weekend as "Deep Impact" rolled into Germany, Italy, Britain, Spain, Mexico and South Africa on the heels of its boffo domestic bow. After the "Titanic" heights of the first quarter, the box office has tumbled in many offshore territories. "Thank goodness for (sophomores) 'Scream 2' and 'Sliding Doors,"' one U.K. booker said, as two local entries, "Martha Meet Frank, Daniel and Lawrence," a romantic comedy about three guys who fall for the same woman, and "Something to Believe In," fared poorly. Adrian Lyne's "Lolita" opened in London, stirring up the expected media controversy and uncovering a lusty $43,000 in six days at just two cinemas. "The Man in the Iron Mask" provided one of the weekend's few highlights, nabbing a beefy $619,000 in Argentina, an OK $589,000 in Hong Kong, and a swell $185,000 in three days in Turkey. The foreign total is $80.4 million and heading for $100 million. At least "Titanic" is keeping some cinemas alive, pocketing $10.9 million from 57 markets. The foreign total stood at $1.080 billion, including Japan's $143.7 million and China's extraordinary $33.2 million after its sixth lap. "Mr. Magoo" had a fairly droll debut in Germany, a market with a soft spot for slapstick comedies, but was underwhelming in depressed Italy. The Leslie Nielsen vehicle has collected just $7.5 million from 20 markets after its domestic run yielded $20 million. In Italy, most holdovers tumbled by 60% to 70%, and "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and sea-serpent thriller "Deep Rising" stiffed. "Event Horizon" continued its undistinguished foreign excursion with blah bows in France and Belgium. The sci-fier's foreign total is $20.5 million. "Wag the Dog" sank by more than 50% after a middling first week in France. The political satire is generally failing to catch on overseas, resulting in a total of about $9 million from 23 countries. "As Good As It Gets" is a steady earner, hitting an estimated $134 million, including $5.8 million in Japan -- a respectable result for a dialogue-driven comedy in that do-or-die territory. "Alien Resurrection" moved up to $103.8 million overseas, paced by Japan's $11.6 million nearing the end of its third outing. "Good Will Hunting" reached $79.4 million, "Jackie Brown" topped $37.5 million and "Scream 2" got to $30.5 million. Reuters/Variety

-- Dan Draghici (, May 18, 1998

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