‘Aladdin’ conjures adults

January is for the big folks.

Adults are holding box office sway for the month, bolstering the performance of such mature-themed films as “A Few Good Men,””Scent of a Woman” and even “Aladdin” as well as sophisticated entries like “Damage” and “The Crying Game.”

Of the top 10 films, the best players are those aimed squarely at the over-21 crowd, which made up the bulk of the $ 44,463,723 grossed this year, 11% ahead of the calendar weekend in 1992, partly because the Super Bowl was played that weekend.

The mass crowd pleaser “Aladdin” has universal appeal, having moved from hit to phenomenon. But it’s safe to say that adult (male and female) admissions are responsible for the extra dollar margin, bringing in $ 7,438,690 for BV’s animated hit’s most recent weekend on 2,289 screens.

Having passed previous top animated money-maker “Beauty and the Beast” with a total to date of almost $ 148 million, “Aladdin’s” next magic trick will be to top $ 150 million and then all other BV releases, including, ultimately, the studio’s all-time top grosser, “Pretty Woman.”

The five runner-ups were all solidly in the camp of uptown audiences. Its peaks having been scaled, Columbia’s “A Few Good Men” is settling in for a steady run with $ 6,125,660 this past weekend on 2,100 screens and $ 109,126,937 to date.

Universal’s fourth-place “Scent of a Woman” was also feeling its oats, dropping less than any other wide-player in its third weekend of national release to a sweet-smell-of-success $ 4,745,865 in 1,244 theaters, bringing it up to $ 22.8 million to date.

Even the younger-skewed “Alive,” in third place, is doing best with older patrons as second man-eating weekend chomped $ 5,909,826 on 1,235 screens– not far behind “Men”–and $ 16.2 million in just 10 days. Strong hold presages a final total of at least $ 35 million to $ 40 million for the BV drama.

“Used People”–which produced workmanlike, if not inspired, results in limited release–is toeing the same line in its first wide weekend with a fifth-place $ 4,381,753 on 876 screens and $ 7.1 million so far. Competition from the top four has kept U’s film from maximizing its potential in top urban markets, but it’s comparably stronger in smaller burgs and suburbs, which is a good indication of mainstream, long-term appeal. And $ 5,002 per-screen average is definitely a high sign. Next couple of weeks will make the picture clearer.

Warner Bros.’ “The Bodyguard” is still the must-see women’s picture, and the longest-running national release among the top 10. Past weekend was $ 3,066,948 on 1,540 screens and $ 106.2 million to date. Even as it loses playdates (down from a high of 1,806), film’s core audience is firm. There’s still some tread left on this tire. Same is true of studio’s “Forever Young,” though it hasn’t engendered the same level of audience enthusiasm. Latest weekend on 1,461 screens was a 10th-place $ 2,294,381, taking it past $ 48 million to date.

There were enough older patrons left to give New Line’s “Damage” and Miramax’s “The Crying Game” some toasty urban numbers. Louis Malle’s controversial sex drama has the name recognition of a best-selling novel to bust through to $ 1,658,618 in 244 playdates. “Crying” is the hands-down word-of-mouth film of the past year, with another $ 1,432,339 on 192 screens and with a cume so far of $ 10.4 million.

Less pleasing, but nonetheless encouraging, was the $ 1,658,300 grossed by U’s “Lorenzo’s Oil” on 412 screens over the weekend and $ 2,837,168, though it’s clear that subject matter and long playing time are conspiring to keep this one from making a more stellar showing.

On the other hand, films aimed at the younger crowd, like Jean-Claude Van Damme’s action entry “Nowhere to Run,” are not kicking up much dust. Second weekend on “Nowhere” trotted to $ 4,305,712 on 1,776 screens. Film must settle down over the next week or two if it’s to add significantly to the $ 13.7 million earned in the first 10 days.

Debuting “Aspen Extreme” (BV) and “Hexed” (Col) are already endangered species.

“Aspen” opened extremely downbeat with $ 3,342,613 on 1,455 screens–less than $ 2,300 a theater–while “Hexed” was nixed by audiences, earning a disastrous $ 1,351,510 on 960 screens, less than $ 1,408 apiece.

Super Bowl Sunday should result in the normal box office fall-off for the final January weekend, with U and TriStar bucking the odds and opening, respectively, family-film “Matinee” and suspenser “Sniper.”

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