Demi Moore's got legs after all.
After a series of embarrassing flops, her "G.I. Jane" topped the national box office for a second week, amassing a gung-ho $10.1 million for the long Labor Day weekend, according to Monday estimates.
Moore's job hunt with the Navy SEALs only treaded water with critics, but it lost just 9% in ticket sales over the previous week--considered exceptionally good by big movie standards, Exhibitor Relations Co. estimated.
"Money Talks," which sparked a flap when its distributor estimated (wrongly) that it would tie with "G.I. Jane" for the top spot last week, held its No. 2 position with $9.5 million.
" 'G.I. Jane' and 'Money Talks' tracked almost identically to a weekend ago," said Art Rockwell, an analyst with Yeager Capital Markets. "They both have strong legs. I really didn't think 'G.I. Jane' would hang in that well."
In fact, none of the top 10 movies lost more than 17% on their ticket sales.
Of course, those are four-day figures, while last week's were for three days, making direct comparisons impossible.
However, the weekend was lucrative and was expected to top the 1996 holiday figure. Overall, sales for the summer season that began on Memorial Day should beat last year's record $2.38 billion by about 1%, Exhibitor Relations estimated.
"Air Force One" was in third place for the weekend with $8.1 million and has earned $154.2 million in six weeks. "Men in Black," at No. 10 with $3.3 million, has a galaxy-sized $235 million in ticket sales for nine weeks.
That was good news for Sony Pictures, which broke $1 billion faster than any distributor in motion picture history thanks to strong performances by "Men in Black," "Air Force One" and "My Best Friend's Wedding." With the weekend's tally, Sony breaks the 1996 $1-billion box-office record that Disney hit on Nov. 22.
Sony, which was considered one of Hollywood's weakest producers a year ago, estimated it could pass its own annual record of $1.2 billion by November.
"With the trend this year with films opening in more and more theaters, we've been very lucky throughout the summer to play with very insignificant drops from weekend to weekend," said Ed Russell, a spokesman for Columbia/TriStar Pictures, which is owned by Sony.
The rest of the Top 10 list was top-heavy with blockbusters and star vehicles, although three new films also made the cut.
The gangster drama "Hoodlum," with Laurence Fishburne and Andy Garcia, was fourth with $7.8 million.
"We're really happy with it because it's playing where we thought it was going to play. It's going in urban theaters and in the suburban multi-screen multiplexes as well," said Larry Gleason, MGM's president of worldwide distribution.
"Excess Baggage," a kidnapping story starring Alicia Silverstone, opened in seventh place with $6.3 million.
"Kull the Conqueror"--a sword-and-sorcery flick starring TV's "Hercules," Kevin Sorbo--was No. 9 with $3.5 million.