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'Jack' Bullies Most of the Competition

Box office: Robin Williams film rises above negative reviews to narrowly lead the weekend gate in a close race with 'A Time to Kill,' preliminary estimates show.


Robin Williams' "Jack" shrugged off an onslaught of negative reviews and was leading the movie box-office competition over the weekend, taking in an estimated $11.3 million, according to its studio, Hollywood Pictures.

But some competitors thought the estimate was a little high and said final ticket sales figures, due out today, would show "Jack" running neck-and-neck with Warner Bros.' "A Time to Kill," each with about $10.8 million for the three days that are considered a weekend. John Krier of the box-office tracking company Exhibitor Relations, who noted the confusion, listed "A Time To Kill" in second place with an estimated $10.9 million. In its three weeks of release, the Southern courtroom drama has grossed $59 million.

Paramount's "John Carpenter's Escape From L.A.," which opened to strong reviews, was third with $9.25 million. It is the sequel to 1981's "Escape From New York," with Kurt Russell returning as gunfighter Snake Plissken to save the day. In fourth place was 20th Century Fox's summer blockbuster "Independence Day," which brought in about $8 million and has grossed $256 million in six weeks. If the box-office pattern continues, Fox expects the film could hit the $300-million mark next month.

TriStar's "Matilda" held fifth with $5 million. That film has grossed about $19 million in its two-week run. In sixth was "Phenomenon" with $4 million and a six-week total of about $88.1 million, as the John Travolta vehicle continued its strong showing.

Seventh and eighth place went to two Fox films that may have virtually tied at an estimated $3.3 million each. Krier put "Chain Reaction" in seventh. It has grossed about $14.5 million in two weeks of release. "Courage Under Fire" was eighth with a cumulative gross of about $48 million in five weeks.

Universal's "Nutty Professor" was in ninth with $3 million for a total gross of about $115 million in seven weeks. MGM/UA's "Kingpin" closed out the Top 10 with about $2.9 million, bumping its total for three weeks to $19.3 million.

Krier and Universal's head of distribution, Nikki Rocco, both noted the weekend was considerably off from the same week last year. Estimates of the decline ranged widely, from about 13% to 20%. Industry sources say it appears the problem is weak product.

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