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'Peacemaker' Proves to Be DreamWorks' Moneymaker

Box office: The thriller leads, as three new releases help give Hollywood its best September weekend ever.

September 29, 1997|From Associated Press

DreamWorks SKG's first movie, "The Peacemaker," premiered at No. 1 and "Soul Food" was a sleeper hit, as Hollywood had its best September weekend ever, with box-office receipts up 30% over those of a year ago.

"The Peacemaker," starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman as Americans tracking down stolen nuclear warheads, grossed $12.5 million during the weekend, according to estimates announced Sunday by Exhibitor Relations Co.

That was somewhat weak, given the hype surrounding the film, the first feature from the studio founded by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

"We're just really happy because of the competition and the marketplace," said Jim Tharp, head of distribution at DreamWorks. "The industry took in over $65 million this weekend."

Pop music producer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds nearly upset the Hollywood big shots with "Soul Food," his first turn as movie producer.

The 20th Century Fox release, a family drama starring Vanessa L. Williams, grossed $11.4 million on 1,338 screens. It led current releases with a per-screen average of about $8,500. "The Peacemaker," playing on 2,362 screens, had an average of nearly $5,300.

"Soul Food" proves that star-driven films aren't the only success story anymore, industry analyst David Davis said, noting that "it's the buzz and word of mouth more and more."

Also opening in wide release was Fox's "The Edge," a plane crash survival saga starring Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, Elle Macpherson--and a bear. It finished fourth with $8.2 million.

"Three openers combined for close to $30 million in revenues, a record for the fall season. These are summer-like numbers," said Robert Bucksbaum of the industry newsletter Reel Source.

The is-he-or-isn't-he-gay comedy "In & Out," starring Kevin Kline, was third with $11.3 million, only a 25% drop in its second week of release. The film, from Paramount Pictures, has already earned $30.5 million and, analyst Davis says, "looks like it's on its way to $80 million or $100 million."

Rounding out the Top 10: PolyGram Films' "The Game," $5.1 million; Warner Bros.' "L.A. Confidential," $4.5 million; Live Entertainment's "Wes Craven Presents Wishmaster," $3.3 million; Fox Searchlight's "The Full Monty," $2.6 million; Touchstone Pictures' "A Thousand Acres," $1.5 million; and Hollywood Pictures' "G.I. Jane," $1.4 million.

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