"Jerry Maguire," "Beverly Hills Ninja" and "In Love and War" were in a three-way tie for first place in the box-office derby for the Super Bowl weekend, according to industry estimates Sunday.
"It's a very tight weekend," said Ed Russell, executive vice president of publicity for the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Cos.
The three films were projected to bring in $5.9 million each, although Sunday's televised National Football League championship game made it difficult to project audience sizes.
"Jerry Maguire" stars Tom Cruise as a sports agent; "In Love and War," the story of young Ernest Hemingway's love affair with a nurse, stars Sandra Bullock and Chris O'Donnell; "Beverly Hills Ninja" is a Chris Farley sendup of martial arts movies.
"In Love and War," in its first weekend of wide release, had the best per-screen average of the trio at $3,665--$733 more than "Ninja" and $992 more than "Maguire."
Also opening in the Top 10, at eighth and 10th place respectively, were "Fierce Creatures," a reunion of the cast from "A Fish Called Wanda" in a non-sequel comedy about a zoo; and "Zeus and Roxanne" (see review, this page), an animal pal story about a dog and a dolphin.
After "Maguire," "Love and War" and "Ninja," the Top 10 films and their estimated grosses for Friday through Sunday were: "Metro," $5.6 million; "Evita," $5.5 million; "Scream," $4.4 million; "The Relic," $4.16 million; "Fierce Creatures," $4 million; "Michael," $3.7 million; and "Zeus and Roxanne," $2.9 million. Final figures are due today.