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August 24, 1986|Craig Modderno

Have the distribution folks at Universal set "Howard the Duck" adrift?

In an unusual move last week for a $37-million movie in only its third week out, they permitted West Coast theater owners to double-bill "Howard." (It was running with "Heartburn" in some northern California theaters, with "Friday the 13th: Part VI, Jason Lives" in L.A. environs.) And Universal is getting only 20% of the receipts from theaters that double up the film and 35% to 40% if it plays on a single screen, bird seed for such a big-budget picture. Ordinarily, a studio would be getting 60% to 70% in the third or fourth week for a major film.

As one film exhibitor told us: "It's a rarity to split this early in a major film's release unless it's a big bomb. You won't see 'Top Gun' double-billed anywhere unless it's a drive-in."

At Universal, spokespeople didn't want to speak about it.

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