Americans spent millions at the movies over the Memorial Day weekend, but ticket buying was widely fragmented among six major releases that debuted on Friday. The result, according to early box-office estimates, was no blockbusters and some poor showings.
"Backdraft," the Ron Howard film about Chicago firefighters from Universal Pictures and Imagine Films, led the list for the Friday through Monday period. "Backdraft" earned an estimated $16.1 million on 1,850 screens, according to industry sources.
Disney/Touchstone's "What About Bob?," a comedy starring Richard Dreyfuss and Bill Murray, scored an increase in sales in its second weekend--a rarity in the movie business. It grabbed second place by generating an estimated $11.2 million on 1,600 screens, compared to $9.2 million on 200 fewer screens the prior weekend.
The Bruce Willis vehicle, "Hudson Hawk," from Tri-Star Pictures, opened on the largest number of screens, about 2,050, with a heavy advertising campaign. But the film managed to take in only an estimated $7.4 million over the four days--a soft showing even for a non-holiday weekend.
In fourth place was "Only the Lonely," with John Candy, from 20th Century Fox. It collected about $5.9 million on 1,500 screens.
In fifth place, MGM/Pathe's "Thelma & Louise," opened on a wave of good reviews in about 1,170 theaters to an estimated $5.7 million--which gives it a healthy per-screen average that portends well for next weekend.
Other films opening in wide release over the weekend included "Drop Dead Fred," from New Line Cinema, with $3.4 million at 850 screens, and Disney's "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken" with a woeful $2.1 million on about 1,660 screens.