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New Year Opens With a Bang at Box Office : Movies: At least $128 million in tickets were sold over the five-day period. 'Home Alone' tops the list--again.

January 03, 1991|PAT H. BROESKE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Led by the phenomenal Christmas season hit "Home Alone," national movie ticket sales during the five-day New Year's weekend hit a fever pitch, surpassing the box office generated over the busy Christmas holiday long weekend.

Early estimates compiled on Wednesday show that at least $128 million in tickets were sold over the five-day period, while $80 million was generated over Christmas. Those totals compare to the five-day weekend record of $133 million set during the July 4 holiday in 1989 when "Batman" was released.

"Home Alone," 20th Century Fox's release about a youngster (played by Macaulay Culkin) who is inadvertently left behind while the family goes on vacation, stayed in first place for the seventh weekend in a row. It drew a whopping $25.7 million in ticket sales for the five days, bringing its total since being released Nov. 16 to $152.1 million. Its total puts it in third place for 1990, following "Ghost" and "Pretty Woman."

Equally impressive for the John Hughes production is the fact that "Home Alone," which is in release on 2,141 screens, had a very high per-screen average of $12,026.

After setting a Christmas Day box-office record, with opening-day ticket sales of $6.4 million, Paramount Pictures' long-awaited "The Godfather Part III" was held to second place by "Home Alone's" performance.

"Godfather III," which continues the Academy Award-winning saga of the Corleone gangster family, grossed $19.5 million over the five days--an impressive total that would be more than enough to put it in first place on any typical weekend. The Francis Ford Coppola film had a per-screen average of $10,289 on 1,901 screens. To date, it has grossed $33.5 million.

Third place went to the comedy-drama "Kindergarten Cop." Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cop who faces a roomful of fearsome adversaries--when he goes under cover as a kindergarten teacher--the Universal Pictures entry had second week ticket sales of $16.3 million. In release on 1,922 screens, the film's per-screen average was $8,505.

Kevin Costner's Western epic "Dances With Wolves" took fourth place with ticket sales of$12 million. On 1,269 screens, the three-hour-long film averaged $9,376.

In fifth place, with ticket sales of $9.2 million, was Fox's romantic fantasy, "Edward Scissorhands." In release on 1,109 screens, it had a per-screen average of $8,353.

Tri-Star Pictures' talking baby comedy, "Look Who's Talking Too," was sixth. Released on 1,625 screens--for a per-screen average of $5,325--the film got spanked by critics, who complained that the sweet-natured quality of the first film gave way to toilet humor (with a story line that involves potty training).

Rounding out the week's Top 10:

"Three Men & a Little Lady" (Buena Vista Releasing), seventh place with $7.2 million in ticket sales; "Mermaids" (Orion), eighth, $6.1 million; "Misery" (Columbia Pictures), ninth, $6.0 million; "The Russia House" (MGM/UA), 10th, $5.5 million.

The weekend was not without casualties.

Warner Bros.' "Bonfire of the Vanities," based on Tom Wolfe's acclaimed novel about the downfall of a hot-shot Wall Street broker, which debuted last weekend to unimpressive numbers of $4.2 million, had second week ticket sales of an estimated $4.9 million. Starring Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith, the Brian De Palma-directed comedy-drama had an estimated per-screen average of just $3,519 on 1,395 screens.

This was good news, however, compared to the shaky performance of another Warner Bros. holiday season release, "The Rookie." Directed by Clint Eastwood, who stars as an aging cop opposite young maverick Charlie Sheen, the film earned approximately $2.4 million on 1,206 screens--an average of only $1,990.

Paramount's fantasy, "Almost an Angel," starring "Crocodile Dundee's" Paul Hogan, earned $2 million. And "Havana," which boasts Robert Redford and a $55 million budget, grossed only $1.9 million, bringing its cumulative gross to $7.1 million after three weeks.

HOLIDAY BOX OFFICE

Movie Weekend Screens/ Weeks in Total (Studio) Gross Average Release Gross 1. "Home Alone" $25.7 2,141 7 $152.7 (20th Century Fox) Million $12,026 Million 2. "Godfather Part III" $19.5 1,901 2 $33.5 (Paramount Pictures) Million $10,289 Million 3. "Kindergarten Cop" $16.3 1,922 2 $32.4 (Universal Pictures) Million $8,505 Million 4. "Dances With Wolves" $11.8 1,269 8 $61.5 (Orion Pictures) Million $9,376 Million 5. "Edward Scissorhands" $9.2 1,109 4 $27.2 (20th Century Fox) Million $8,353 Million 6. "Look Who's Talking Too" $9.2 1,625 3 $27.9 (Tri-Star Pictures) Million $5,325 Million 7. "3 Men and a Little Lady" $7.2 1,578 6 $54.0 (Buena Vista) Million $4,573 Million 8. "Mermaids" $6.1 977 3 $16.3 (Orion Pictures) Million $6,356 Million 9. "Misery" $6.0 1,329 5 $39.9 (Columbia Pictures) Million $4,558 Million 10. "The Russia House" $5.5 725 2 $11.5 (MGM/UA) Million $7,625 Million

SOURCES: Exhibitor Relations Co., Times estimates

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