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Stand in Line for 'Stand by Me'

September 11, 1986|DAVID T. FRIENDLY

"Stand by Me" can no longer be considered the summer sleeper--it's wide awake and still drawing long lines at the box office.

In its first three weeks the Rob Reiner-directed film has taken in $17.8 million at about 800 theaters, according to Pete Sealey, Columbia's president of domestic marketing and distribution group. "We think the film still has enormous upside potential," Sealey said.

In other words, the lines could get even longer. According to Sealey, initial research showed that "Stand" was appealing mostly to the under-25 age group. But polling from last weekend showed that two-thirds of the audience was over 25. "The dating crowd has discovered the film," Sealey said.

"Stand by Me" is one of those Cinderella box-office tales. It might have been lost in the marketing shuffle when Embassy was sold to Columbia, but the studio wisely backed the film with a clever marketing campaign that relied heavily on viewer word of mouth.

"Stand by Me" is now helping to reverse Columbia's hard luck at the box office in recent months. It has also revived Hollywood's ongoing love affair with writer Stephen King's prose. And this time the move from small type to big screen seems to have paid off.

In other box office news, last weekend the kids obviously opted for a good night's rest before opening day at school: Every major film slipped at the box office ("Top Gun" 35%, "The Fly" 32%, "The Karate Kid Part II" 39% and the big loser Cannon's "Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part II" 69%).

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