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'The Crow' Takes Off at Box Office : Movies: The opening is the biggest ever for Miramax. In second place is 'When a Man Loves a Woman,' with 'Crooklyn' third.

May 16, 1994|DAVID J. FOX | TIMES STAFF WRITER

With a story-line involving supernatural powers and undying romance, a rock 'n' roll score and a cast headed by Brandon Lee, who was accidentally killed while making the film, "The Crow" emerged on Sunday as the clear leader at the nation's box offices.

The movie's distributor, Miramax Films, and its subsidiary, Dimension Films, estimated that "The Crow" would do about $11.7 million at the box office in its first Friday-to-Sunday period. In second place was "When a Man Loves a Woman," the drama with Andy Garcia and Meg Ryan, at $9.5 million, and third was "Crooklyn," from director Spike Lee, with $4.6 million, according to industry estimates.

"Clearly we're thrilled that the movie's Number 1," said Miramax marketing vice president David Dinerstein, who noted that exit surveys have found the film has a strong appeal to young males and females.

The opening is the biggest ever for Miramax, a company that has found success distributing such off-beat films as "The Crying Game" and "The Piano," and which now is a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co.

What's different about "The Crow" is that it has started off big. It's on 1,573 screens, and this Friday that expands to 1,900 screens, Dinerstein said.

The quickly escalating release is an expression of confidence that the film will have staying power at the box office in the midst of such on-coming big summer movies as "Maverick, " which opens Friday and heralds the big summer movie-going season.

The movie also has the support of a major TV advertising campaign that emphasizes the darkly romantic story. The soundtrack album of various hard-rock bands is No. 15 on the charts and climbing, Dinerstein said.

But there is at least one indication that "The Crow" may lack staying power: box-office receipts on Saturday night--traditionally the week's biggest--were off the pace of Friday's opening night, according to some exhibition sources. Situations like that are not the typical pattern for movies that have healthy runs of many consecutive weeks.

The death of Lee on March 31, 1993, focused attention on the film and, for a time, uncertainly about whether it would be completed. Lee, the son of the late martial arts star Bruce Lee, died after he was shot on the set while filming at Carolco Studios in Wilmington, N.C. No charges were filed as officials in Wilmington said an investigation had turned up no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Some say the curiosity factor about Lee and his final movie is one reason for the current popularity of "The Crow." Lee's popularity is somewhat akin to that of James Dean, the actor who died in a car crash with two just-completed films, "Rebel Without a Cause" and "Giant," still to come out.

Among the other weekend box office results, "Four Weddings and a Funeral" came in fourth with $2.8 million and "With Honors" grossed $2.5 million to take fifth. The first weekend of "Three Ninja's Kick Back" drew $2.4 million, to take sixth place.

"No Escape" was seventh with $1.7 million, followed by "Clean Slate" with $1.5 million and "Bad Girls" with $1 million. "Schindler's List" and "You So Crazy," starring Martin Lawrence, tied for 10th place with $800,000.

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