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'JFK,' 'Hook' Bring Out the Crowds : 'Hook' Stays Atop Weekend Box Office

December 23, 1991|DAVID J. FOX | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Steven Spielberg's "Hook" maintained its position as the No. 1 filmat the nation's box offices during the weekend, despite competition from such major new films as "Father of the Bride," "JFK" and "Bugsy."

Analysts said Sunday that the weekend's box-office results bode well for the industry this holiday week, when even more movies open, including "The Prince of Tides," starring Barbra Streisand and Nick Nolte, and Lawrence Kasdan's ensemble piece, "Grand Canyon." After all the gift shopping is done, presents unwrapped and family traditions observed, they said, ticket sales are expected to rise sharply beginning Christmas Day and maintain a crisp pace through the New Year's holiday.

"You'll see the people who will go to see 'Hook' start coming on Christmas Day," said Michael Patrick, chief executive officer of the 1,400-screen Carmike Cinemas chain.

"The business looks healthy. 'JFK' is performing in our bigger markets and 'The Last Boy Scout' seems to be gaining business in our action markets," said Patrick, whose theaters span 20 states. "We haven't had one picture drop out of bed the way we did with 'Bonfire of the Vanities' last year."

For the weekend, "Hook" set the pace with an estimated $9 million on 2,254 screens, followed by the Steve Martin comedy "Father of the Bride," with an estimated $6.6 million on 1,561 screens. Oliver Stone's "JFK," starring Kevin Costner, drew about $5 million on 1,164 screens to come in a strong third, despite being hindered from doing more business by the film's 3-hour-plus running time, which limits the number of showings.

"Hook's" second-weekend figures were off about 33% from the preceding weekend, but that was no greater a drop than any of the other continuing movies. And if the results for the film seemed unspectacular to some observers, the movie was, nevertheless, solidly in first place--a position it has held every day since opening Dec. 11.

The modern retelling of the Peter Pan tale stars Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Julia Roberts, Maggie Smith and Bob Hoskins. From the time Spielberg began making it, the movie took on almost legendary Hollywood proportions due to its scale, stars and $60-million-plus cost. By the time it opened, industry expectations were for a blockbuster the size of Spielberg's own "E.T.," "Jaws," "Back to the Future" or "Raiders of the Lost Ark."

But "Hook" opened in the slow period between Thanksgiving and Christmas and its first weekend box-office take of $13.5 million was considered disappointing in some quarters. Distributor TriStar Pictures estimated the total gross by the end of Sunday would be about $31 million.

"I'm happy with the numbers to date," TriStar Chairman Mike Medavoy said Sunday. "It's really an indication of strength in the week before the holiday."

Speaking about industry perceptions of the movie, Medavoy said: "I think the reason that 'Hook' was knocked is because of its cost and the idea of knocking off a front-runner. . . . We could have opened it closer to the holiday and done bigger opening business, but the answer is that we've got $30 million in the bank so far. And we wanted the movie to establish itself before the holiday period."

While the movie-going business is usually strong during the Christmas season, "the number of movies in the marketplace tend to cut into each other," said John Krier, the owner of Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc., a company that compiles box-office data.

That point could be seen clearly in the results of this weekend's box-office derby. While "Hook," Disney/Touchstone's "Father of the Bride" and Warner Bros.' "JFK" were estimated to be one, two and three, respectively, the rest of the lineup, based on estimates, was not so clear. Final box-office figures will be released later today.

The next highest grossing films, in alphabetical order, were:

* "Beauty and the Beast," the animated musical fantasy that showed a slight improvement from the preceding weekend due to a sharp increase in the number of screens on which it is showing. For the weekend, it was estimated to have taken in between $4.8 million and $4.9 million.

* In its second week, "The Last Boy Scout," starring Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans, collected $4.8 to $4.9 million on 1,827 screens. It took in $7.9 million the previous weekend.

* "Star Trek VI," with an estimated $4.8 million to $5 million, brought its accumulated gross to about $38 million since opening on Dec. 6.

"Bugsy," the biographical film about mobster Bugsy Siegel, starring Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, opened nationwide over the weekend, after one week of a limited run. It sold about $4.5 million in tickets on 1,219 screens.

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