Bruce Willis' portrayal of an assassin with Sidney Poitier and Richard Gere as the men who track him down put "The Jackal" on top of box-office offerings this weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The Universal Pictures release, whose lead character is a master of disguise, opened at No. 1 with an estimated gross of $15.6 million, according to Exhibitor Relations Co. The film is a retelling of "The Day of the Jackal," the 1973 film starring Edward Fox.
Sony/TriStar's "Starship Troopers" dropped to No. 2 in its second week with an estimated $10.2 million, tying with the reissue of Walt Disney Co.'s 1989 animated blockbuster "The Little Mermaid."
The musical feature opened with $5.9 million when it was first released. The re-release comes one week before 20th Century Fox premieres its first big-budget animated film, "Anastasia," which was shown this weekend only at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York, where it recorded $125,000 in ticket sales.
The re-release of "The Little Mermaid" is nothing new for Disney.
"Disney's been doing this for 60 years. 'Snow White' has been released eight or nine times," said David Davis, film analyst for the Los Angeles-based investment banking firm Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin. "It takes about eight or nine years after an animated feature opens to be put out theatrical again. . . . In essence, all this release does is to build awareness for the video's re-release."
"Starship Troopers" dropped a precipitous 54% from last weekend.
"Expensive movies like 'The Jackal' and 'Starship Troopers' find it difficult to become profitable and have those $25-million openings," Davis said, noting the box-office power of movies with younger stars known only to their age group, like Sony/Columbia's current hit "I Know What You Did Last Summer."
"I Know What You Did Last Summer" was sixth in its fifth weekend with $4.1 million.
Doing well in the second week of release were Gramercy Pictures' "Bean," in fourth with $8 million, and Trimark's "Eve's Bayou," in just 672 theaters, in ninth with $2.5 million. Warner Bros.' "Mad City," starring John Travolta and Dustin Hoffman, fell to 11th place after last week's sixth-place opening.
Among new films, Bill Murray's spy comedy "The Man Who Knew Too Little," from Warner Bros., came in fifth with an estimated gross of $4.7 million. One other new release, New Line Cinema's "One Night Stand," a drama about an affair between characters played by Wesley Snipes and Nastassja Kinski, opened in 13th place.
Other films landing in the Top 10 were Warner Bros.' "The Devil's Advocate," in seventh, with $3.6 million; MGM's "Red Corner," eighth, $2.6 million; and New Line's "Boogie Nights," 10th, with $2.5 million.
All weekend grosses are estimates; final figures are to be released today.