‘Home’ alone at top of heap

Records are made to be smashed. And the debut of 20th Century Fox’s “Home Alone 2” is likely to shatter the week-old platter established by “Dracula” as the biggest non-summer opening ever. The estimated $ 31 million to $ 32 million take for the three days would outflank “Dracula’s”$ 30.5 million start.

No slouch either was Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” managing a charismatic $ 9.5 million to $ 10.5 million or so on 1,124 screens–at only three shows a day due to the film’s epic three-hour, 21-minute length. That brings the impressive five-day total to between $ 13.2 million and $ 14.2 million.

If Sunday business is up to snuff, the year-old record for a pre-Thanksgiving weekend will bite the dust. The top 10 films could rake a bountiful $ 72 million or so, about 28% ahead of the comparable weekend last year. According to Warners distribution chieftain Barry Reardon, it’s probably the biggest non-holiday, non-summer weekend ever.

What’s more, that figure is ahead of Thanksgiving weekend 1991, when the the top 10 brought in around $ 67 million. And with two major entries due before the first bite of turkey, Buena Vista’s “Aladdin” breaking nationally and Warners’ Kevin Costner starrer “The Bodyguard,” more records could be laid to waste. The Thanksgiving weekend figure to beat is $ 78 million, established in 1989.

Columbia’s putting a happy face on it, calling “Dracula’s” 49% second-weekend drop “perfectly respectable,” per a studio spokesman. The studio is predicting $ 15.5 million in weekend two, no small change. Competing studios quote a total that is as much as $ 1 million below that figure, which would mean that the plunge was in excess of 50% and that “Dracula” is following horror film attendance patterns, albeit at an inflated level.

The substantial falloff may be making some palms a little sweaty. Still, with about $ 53 million to $ 54 million gathered over a 10-day period and the big-bird weekend looming, the $ 100 million plateau is more than a possibility. Beyond that, whether the $ 40 million Francis Ford Coppola extravaganza develops into a big hit–not a bad thing to be–or a major profit center, won’t be clear until early December, say industry insiders.

But back to Macaulay Culkin & Co. The sequel should almost double the $ 17.1 million start for the original (on 1,202 screens). That film went on to become the third-highest grossing film in U.S. history with $ 285 million.

In topping “Dracula’s” still fresh opening, “Home Alone 2” did so on fewer screens (2,222 vs. 2,491 for “Dracula”). Totals are even more impressive when you factor reduced children’s admissions into the $ 14,000-plus per-screen average–as many as half the tickets sold were to kids, according to Fox distribution sage Tom Sherak. At full price that would lift the total to well over $ 40 million.

Sherak is buoyed by the 46% attendance by the over-25 crowd–though admittedly most were parents with the kids in tow. More inspiring was the 65% excellent ranking by adults and 90% by youngsters.

“Malcolm X” is evidencing monster potential for a serious pic. Reardon says the Denzel Washington starrer brought in $ 2.7 million on Friday night and almost $ 4.1 million on Saturday. He’s figuring as much as $ 3.7 million on Sunday based on sell-out matinees on the East Coast. Weekend per-screen will land in the $ 8,100 to $ 9,300 range. Spread over only nine performances per theater, those averages loom even larger.

Given the arrival of two blockbuster potential flicks, Warners “Passenger 57” will probably lose another third or better of its audience and register $ 4.5 million on 1,974 screens for $ 27 million in three weeks.

Columbia’s “A River Runs Through It” keeps on trucking, with silt erosion confined to around 25%, good for about $ 3 million on 1,080 screens and just under $ 24 million to date.

Sixth place through eighth place were held down by the long-distance runners, none of which were particularly lonely. Warners’ “Under Siege” has clocked over $ 68 million, with about $ 2.5 million this past weekend on 1,757 screens, a drop of nearly 33%. BV’s “The Mighty Ducks” was savaged by “Home Alone 2” but likely saved from disaster by Sunday “Aladdin” screenings. The anticipated $ 2 million for the weekend on 1,708 screens is a significant 45% droop. But with better than $ 42 million to date, no tears need be shed for this star performer. Nor are there any carps about the $ 1.75 million estimate on Fox’s “The Last of the Mohicans,” on 1,463 screens, a 33% dip. Totals are about $ 65 million.

Rounding out the top 10 are two fast-disappearing items: Par’s “Jennifer 8,” down another 35% to about $ 1.35 million on 1,347 screens and $ 8.1 million in three weeks; and Warners’ “Pure Country,” which twanged about $ 900,000 on 1,009 screens for $ 10.6 million or thereabouts.

BV’s “Aladdin” withstood the “Home Alone 2” onslaught in New York and Los Angeles exclusive runs. Losing a scant 11%, the $ 174,000 two-theater estimate is cause for jubilation as is the 12-day cume of $ 613,000.

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