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PolyGram's First Release Gamely Beats 'G.I. Jane'

Box office: 'The Game,' starring Michael Douglas, is the big winner for the weekend, estimates show. 'Full Monty' is an eye-opener at third.

September 15, 1997|From Associated Press

PolyGram Films proved itself a Hollywood player with its first release, "The Game," opening as the weekend's clear box-office winner, according to industry estimates Sunday.

"The Game" was the only major new film issued in wide release, giving it an immediate edge over competitors as the fall film season gets underway. It was expected to gross $14.3 million on 2,403 screens, according to the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.

The $70-million production stars Michael Douglas as a bored millionaire whose life is turned upside down by a bizarre birthday gift from his brother.

Hollywood Pictures' "G.I. Jane," a military drama starring Demi Moore, was in second place with $3.4 million in its fourth week of release.

The weekend's biggest surprise was Fox Searchlight's "The Full Monty," which finished in third place. Exhibitor Relations originally didn't list the low-budget film in the Top 10 but later reported that the British comedy grossed $3.3 million on only 386 screens. That per-screen average of about $8,500 far surpassed that of "The Game," which averaged about $5,900.

"It's very unusual to do that level of business," said David Davis, an entertainment analyst with Houlihan, Lokey, Howard & Zukin. "That means these theaters are packed."

"The Full Monty," the story of a group of unemployed steelworkers who decide to work up a male striptease act, was issued in limited release Aug. 13 with minimal advertising. David Dinerstein, senior vice president of marketing for Fox Searchlight, said the company will continue to expand its release of the film throughout the month.

Analyst Davis said "The Game" will face greater competition next week when two other fall films are released: Warner Bros.' crime drama "L.A. Confidential" and the Kevin Kline comedy "In & Out" from Paramount Pictures.

"They've had a very thoughtful strategy for entering the movie business," Davis said of PolyGram Films. "By being able to position 'The Game' as the only game in town . . . they're able to maximize its potential."

PolyGram Films is part of PolyGram Filmed Entertainment, in turn a part of the sprawling Dutch entertainment conglomerate PolyGram NV. It joins DreamWorks SKG as the two latest newcomers to the film market.

"We're real. We know what we're doing," said Bruce Feldman, PolyGram's publicity director.

Last week's box-office leader, "Fire Down Below," a Steven Seagal action film from Warner Bros., dropped 49% and into fifth place with $3.1 million, behind New Line Cinema's "Money Talks," which grossed $3.2 million.

Among films issued in limited release this weekend, Triumph Releasing's "The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca" grossed $90,000 on 30 screens and MGM's "The End of Violence," directed by Wim Wenders, grossed $65,000 on five screens.

Rounding out the Top 10 were Columbia Pictures' "Air Force One," $3 million; United Artists' "Hoodlum," $2.6 million; Warner Bros.' "Conspiracy Theory," $2.3 million; Columbia's "Excess Baggage," $2 million; and Disney's "George of the Jungle," $1.7 million.

All weekend grosses are estimates; final figures are to be released today.

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