The Samuel Goldwyn Co.’s Christmas release “Peter’s Friends” opened ShowEast 1992 to applause and generous laughter from exhibitors in attendance yesterday at the kick-off of the confab overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

The comedy-drama produced and directed by Kenneth Branagh deals with the reunion of six friends for New Year’s Eve at an English mansion owned by one of the participants.

“Peter’s Friends” features the acting debut of comedian Rita Rudner, who co-wrote the screenplay with her husband, Martin Bergman.

The film, reminiscent of “The Big Chill,” was well-received by the audience.

According to Samuel Goldwyn marketing veep Steve Rothenberg, the film will open Christmas Day in an exclusive situation in 25 markets, with wider distribution to follow.

The company expects the picture to gather a larger following than the typical art film. To do so, however, the film will be dependent on strong word-of-mouth, which some in attendance at the screening believed the film would generate easily.

“Peter’s Friends” started the three-day sunup-to-sundown affair, which will conclude tomorrow evening.

Other films set to unspool at ShowEast include Columbia’s “A Few Good Men,” New Line’s “Damage,” 20th Century Fox’s “Used People,” TriStar’s “Chaplin,” Paramount’s “Jennifer Eight” and New Line’s “Excessive Force.”

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