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'Outbreak's' Success Only Goes So Far : Movies: Thriller leads the weekend box office with an estimated $13 million, but it's a steep drop to 'Man' in second.

March 13, 1995|RICHARD NATALE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The medical thriller "Outbreak," starring Dustin Hoffman and Morgan Freeman, brought some moviegoing life back to theaters over the weekend with an estimated $13 million to $13.4 million in ticket sales for 2,215 screens.

The film drew a strong adult turnout, leaving Warner Bros. hoping that younger patrons will soon follow.

Unfortunately for Hollywood, the box-office epidemic for "Outbreak" didn't affect other movies. In distant second was Walt Disney Pictures' Chevy Chase comedy "Man of the House," which dropped from first place, taking in somewhere between $6.5 million and $7.2 million--and almost $18 million in two weekends.

It was another sharp drop to third, where "The Brady Bunch Movie" garnered $3.5 million on 1,941 screens. With $37.6 million to date, "Bunch" will end up only a modest hit. Ditto Warners' Sean Connery/Larry Fishburne suspense film "Just Cause," which placed fourth with $3.2 million and about $30 million so far.

John Krier of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks box-office trends, said Sunday he expected the weekend to be as much as 20% behind last year, continuing the downswing that began in January--meaning the second quarter of 1995 will have to be substantially ahead to begin the catch-up process with record-setting 1994.

First-quarter results were drawing only modest support from "Hideaway" and "Roommates," which both were showing signs of exhaustion in only their second weekends. They appeared to be neck and neck with an estimated $2.7 million, although "Roommates" probably had the edge. The unimpressive two-week totals are about $9 million and $7 million, respectively.

Making hay of their Oscar nominations, both "Pulp Fiction" and "Forrest Gump" continued to add to their impressive totals. Both were heading for between $1.9 million and $2.1 million in tickets over the weekend, taking "Pulp" to just under $89 million and "Gump" to $312 million. The latter will soon surpass "The Lion King" to become 1994's best grosser and the fourth largest box-office attraction of all time.

The biggest winter hit to date, "Legends of the Fall," fell to ninth place with $1.4 million and almost $62 million so far. Rounding out the Top 10 was either "Billy Madison" or "The Madness of King George." The former reported an estimate of about $1.3 million while the latter was a little above $1.2 million.

An up and comer is the Australian comedy "Muriel's Wedding," which had its nuptials in New York and Los Angeles over the weekend, reaping $218,000 on 14 screens. Miramax says it's so buoyed by the $15,595 per-screen average, it's moving the film out faster, starting next weekend.

Another Aussie comedy, Goldwyn's "The Sum of Us," didn't add up to as much, taking only $37,000 over the weekend on five screens.

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