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Oscar Bids Boost 'Dances With Wolves' Box Office

February 20, 1991|PAT H. BROESKE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With a boost from its 12 Oscar nominations, Orion Pictures' "Dances With Wolves" rode off with a rise in ticket sales of more than 40% over the four-day Presidents Day holiday weekend.

In its 15th week of release, the Western epic earned $6.2 million on 1,554 screens, up from $3.9 million the previous week. It ranked fifth for the week.

But the weekend's biggest ticket takers were current releases, led by the thrillers "The Silence of the Lambs," which opened Wednesday, and "Sleeping With the Enemy."

From Orion Pictures, and based on Thomas Harris' best-selling novel about the hunt for a serial killer, "The Silence of the Lambs," starring Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, had weekend ticket sales of $13.7 million. Directed by Jonathan Demme, "Silence" opened to largely positive reviews, and had a per-screen average of $9,196 on 1,497 screens.

Coming in second--in its second week of release--was 20th Century Fox's "Sleeping With the Enemy," which earned $12.8 million. Starring Julia Roberts as a wife on the run from her brutal husband, the film--which set a February box office record with opening weekend receipts of $13.7 million--was on 1,467 screens, where it averaged a high $8,743 per theater.

With receipts of $8.3 million, Universal Pictures' just-out "King Ralph" finished third on the chart. Starring John Goodman as an ordinary guy who finds himself elevated to royalty, the film--which received mixed reviews--opened on 1,617 screens, where it averaged $5,150.

In fourth place, with receipts of $7.3 million, was Fox's durable comedy, "Home Alone." This brings its earnings, after 15 weeks, to $230.1 million.

Aside from "Dances With Wolves," the only best picture nominee among the top 10 was Columbia Pictures' "Awakenings." But despite three nominations, including Best Actor (Robert De Niro) and Best Director (Penny Marshall), the drama actually fell 4% over the previous week's receipts, tumbling from sixth to 10th place with ticket sales of $2.7 million.

Though the other three best picture nominees are no longer in the top 10, each saw a slight jump in receipts over the previous week. "The Godfather Part III" (Paramount), with seven nominations, earned $1.1 million in its ninth week--an increase of more than 20%. "GoodFellas" (Warner Bros.), with six nominations, re-widened in its 21st week to 606 screens (up from 22 the week before), where it earned $916,511; and "Ghost" (Paramount), with five nominations, had receipts of $584,115, up some 10% after 32 weeks.

Elsewhere on the weekend slate: Warner Bros.' "Nothing But Trouble"--which was not screened in advance for critics--opened with just $4 million on 1,671 screens, for a weak $2,374 per-screen average. The comedy marks the directorial debut of Dan Aykroyd, who co-stars with Chevy Chase, John Candy and Demi Moore.

FOUR-DAY WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

Movie Weekend Screens/ Weeks in Total (Studio) Gross Average Release Gross 1. "Silence of the Lambs" $13.7 1,497 1 $15.2 (Orion) Million $9,196 Million 2. "Sleeping With the Enemy" $12.8 1,467 2 $31.1 (20th Century-Fox) Million $8,743 Million 3. "King Ralph" $8.3 1,617 1 $8.3 (Universal Pictures) Million $5,150 Million 4. "Home Alone" $7.3 1,815 14 $230.1 (20th Century-Fox) Million $4,067 Million 5. "Dances With Wolves" $6.2 1,554 15 $111.7 (Orion Pictures) Million $3,991 Million * "Nothing But Trouble" $4.0 1,671 1 $4.0 (Warner Bros.) Million $2,374 Million

SOURCES: Exhibitor Relations Co.

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