"Disclosure," a drama about sexual harassment and other workplace power games, bumped "The Santa Clause" off the box-office roof this weekend--though not by much--while a sky-diving Wesley Snipes fell into a low-flying third place in the adventure "Drop Zone."
Other Top 10 films, such as "Star Trek: Generations," "Interview With the Vampire" and "Junior," took major hits from which not all are expected to recover, according to preliminary estimates of weekend movie ticket sales. With hoped-for bigger guns such as Jim Carrey in "Dumb and Dumber" and Michael Keaton and Geena Davis in "Speechless" due on Friday, it was one of those things-can-only-get-better weekends--probably the nadir of the holiday season.
But the woman-bites-dog saga, "Disclosure," based on Michael Crichton's bestseller and starring Demi Moore and Michael Douglas, managed to scratch up enough scratch to get off to a promising if not definitively smashing launch with an estimated $10.1 million on 1,675 screens. Opening weekend business for "Disclosure" was well below industry expectations, based on strong tracking studies of audience interest in the film and the previous weekend's sneak previews. But there's many a slip between want-to-see and actual ticket sales.
Adult audiences may have a bigger appetite for "Disclosure" than they demonstrated in the film's first weekend. At least Warner Bros. is hoping so. The proof will be in whether the film can build critical mass as the holidays approach.
Kids, however, always need to be entertained. And strong Saturday matinee business for "The Santa Clause" helped it remain strong for the fifth straight weekend against the arrival of "Disclosure." The undisputed hit of the season, starring Tim Allen, mirthed its way to $8.9 million on 2,381 screens. The $96-million total to date officially put "Santa" ahead of "Interview With the Vampire," which dropped to either sixth or seventh with an anemic $2.3 million and a $94-million total. Both films will top $100 million soon, "Clause" by the weekend.
"Drop Zone" got any urban adventure-seekers who weren't at holiday parties, which only amounted to $6.4 million on 2,020 screens. And however modest that was, it came out of the hide of "Low Down Dirty Shame," which plummeted to $2.3 million and just $21 million to date.
How about a free admission for every pregnant woman (or man) promotion to help pull "Junior" out of the doldrums? The $2.9 million collected over the past weekend placed the film in fourth place, but the $24 million in tickets sold to date is keenly disappointing for an Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, especially considering that it was handicapped as one of the season's sure bets and received better-than-average reviews.
"Star Trek: Generations" again lost more than half its business from the previous weekend, down to $2.8 million with just over $64 million to date. Still, it will end up among the top grossers in the never-ending film series.
"The Lion King" lay in wait for the holidays, managing another $2.2 million and edging it close to $290 million.
Two 20th Century Fox films rounded out the Top 10. "Miracle on 34th Street" is hanging by a thread with $1.6 million and has done only about $13 million so far. "Trapped in Paradise" dipped to $1.4 million and only about $5 million to date.