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'The Truman Show' Continues to Earn High Ratings

Box office: The Jim Carrey film stays at No. 1, ahead of Harrison Ford's debuting 'Six Days' and 'Perfect Murder.'

June 15, 1998|RICHARD NATALE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Even with the debut of Harrison Ford's romantic adventure "Six Days, Seven Nights"--and heavy TV competition from The Jordan Show (a.k.a. the Chicago Bulls vs. the Utah Jazz)--Jim Carrey's "The Truman Show" pulled in an estimated $20.1 million in its second weekend, remaining the nation's most popular movie.

Bringing in more than $3 million every night during the week (more than twice as much as "A Perfect Murder"), "Truman's" second weekend was down about 36%--good considering that "Six Days" siphoned off women and the NBA Finals took the guys. After only 10 days, "Truman" has grossed almost $65 million and should soon be the third film of the summer to cross the $100 million threshold.

The heavily advertised but only modestly reviewed "Six Days, Seven Nights" earned $16 million over three days in 2,550 theaters for a kickoff average of $6,278 per house. "We're off to a good start," said Buena Vista distribution head Phil Barlow, meaning the film launched in the same generally good area as other recent adult-skewing movies such as last weekend's second-place finisher, "A Perfect Murder." "Perfect's" second weekend was down 32% to $11.2 million with a $34.3 million total to date.

Ford's forte has never been romantic comedy. His best performers have always been action films. "Air Force One" (1997) and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989) both roared off to $37-million starts. "The Fugitive" (1993) brought in almost $24 million its first weekend.

Yet, even though his romantic comedy "Sabrina" (1995) opened to a disappointing $5.5 million, it still went on to gross almost $54 million. Ford's movies do have staying power, and the romantic-comedy larder for summer is largely bare.

Two other films opened nationally over the weekend. The modest teen comedy "Can't Hardly Wait" scored a more-than-modest $8.2 million in 1,987 theaters. Former "Saturday Night Live" player Norm Macdonald can hardly blame NBC West Coast President Don Ohlmeyer, who threatened not to run ads for the movie because of a spat with Macdonald--for the poor $3.6 million debut of "Dirty Work" in a spirited 1,776 theaters.

Business for the Top 10 movies was up in the area of 40% over last year, according to the industry tracking service Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc. The strength of movie attendance is evident not so much by the front-runners as the also-rans. Despite another 33% drop, "Godzilla" still managed $6.7 million over the weekend on 3,310 screens and is now encroaching $125 million. But it's still behind "Deep Impact," which took in $4.4 million in its sixth weekend and has almost $129 million in box office so far.

In between the two disaster flicks was Sandra Bullock in "Hope Floats," which cruised along with an estimated $5.1 million and just over $38 million in three weeks. "The Horse Whisperer" held on to $3.9 million in its fifth weekend and now has reined in about $58 million. In 10th place, and almost out of the race, is Warren Beatty's "Bulworth," with $1.2 million and a $24-million total. Among the art house debuts, the Jessica Lange period piece "Cousin Bette" seemed only to snare people who've actually heard of Balzac with $76,600 on 14 screens, only about $5,500 a theater.

By next weekend many of the nation's schools will be out for summer and air-conditioned movie theaters are expected to be a main refuge for kids. June 19th witnesses the one-two debut punch of Disney's animated spectacular "Mulan" and Fox's big-budget feature film version of "The X-Files."

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