With Christmas Eve falling on a Saturday and more than half a dozen movies premiering on Christmas Day, the only clear winners for the somewhat confusing weekend were two summer-style entertainments--"Dumb and Dumber" starring Jim Carrey and "Streetfighter," the video-game-turned-movie featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
"Dumb" took in an estimated $15.7 million for the four days and has grossed $41 million in its first 11 days. "Streetfighter," which opened Friday, earned about $11.8 million.
Also flying high but expected to go south now that St. Nick has returned to the North Pole is "The Santa Clause," which ended up third for the weekend with $11 million. With $120 million or so to date, it's still the holiday film to beat.
The rosy-cheeked "Santa" ended up ahead of the cheeky "Disclosure" over the weekend. The adaptation of Michael Crichton's bestseller about workplace shenanigans made an expected rebound with $9 million predicted for the four days and more than $30 million so far.
All those numbers could have been higher had it not been for the big Christmas Eve sag (with the exception of "Santa Clause"). But by Sunday afternoon, the goose had been cooked, the turkey carved, and it was off to the movies. Monday, a holiday for most workers and school kids, was expected to be the real start of the Christmas week box-office boom, which will last until Jan. 2 (with another dip on New Year's Eve).
Of the big Christmas Day openings, the remakes "Little Women" and "The Jungle Book" brought families out in a big way. "Women," starring Winona Ryder and Susan Sarandon, had more than a little bit of an edge. For the two days, it amassed $6.5 million, placing it officially in fifth, although a Columbia distribution spokesman says it was in third on Sunday and probably on Monday too. Based on that level of business, "Women" could be the holiday sleeper.
Disney's live-action "Jungle" booked $6 million for the weekend and could pick up some of the family slack as the studio's "Santa Clause" slowly winds up its successful run.
The sylvan sweetheart "Nell," featuring Jodie Foster, also emerged from the woods with$3.7 million on 1,623 screens for Sunday and Monday. The romantic comedy "I.Q.," starring Meg Ryan, fared comparably well--a brainy if not genius $3.5 million for two days on 1,365 screens. Robert Altman's "Ready to Wear," however, was only partially clad. The fashion ensemble piece was expected to net $1.8 million for the two days on 736 screens, despite TV ads boasting big box-office names such as Julia Roberts and the promise of top models in various states of undress.
"Richie Rich" starring Macaulay Culkin, was not an embarrassment, earning $7 million since its Wednesday opening, $5 million of that over the holiday weekend. But the Steve Martin vehicle, "Mixed Nuts," had a debut that suggested it will soon be on video--$2.7 million and only $3.5 million since last Wednesday. Another comedy, "Speechless," starring Geena Davis, is doing only slightly better with $3.1 million in its second weekend and $9 million to date. It was tied with the Wesley Snipes adventure, "Drop Zone," which has grossed $17.5 million in three weeks and appears to be no competition for Van Damme.
Limited holiday releases were led by "Immortal Beloved," which plucked out a symphonic $150,000 on four screens for the four-day weekend, almost half of that in New York. The adventure saga "Legends of the Fall" swept up $132,000 on six screens for two days, while Paul Newman's critically praised "Nobody's Fool" captured $111,000 for the two days, also on six screens.
Two foreign releases, the banned-in-China "To Live" and the French film "Red," were wowing art-house audiences. "To Live" earned $175,000 on 22 screens and "Red" took in $118,000 in 30 runs.