B.o. snowed under

The Blizzard of ’93 descended upon the East Coast and sent the box office into a tailspin. Overall revenues went into a deep freeze by some 7% from both last week and last year. However, the prognosis could have been far worse save for the arrival of new product that brought out the brave, the blind and the sunburned to movie theaters.

Both Universal’s anti-rap rap “CB4” and Paramount’s UFO abduction “Fire in the Sky” registered strong opening numbers to lead the weekend. However, Buena Vista’s African adventure “A Far Off Place” discovered that three Disney family-oriented pictures in the marketplace was definitely one too many.

“CB4,” Universal’s low-budget hip-hop comedy, appeared to have a slight edge for the weekend box office title with an estimated three-day tally of $ 6.4 million. Its ascendancy is all the more remarkable as it was playing decidedly urban with some of its biggest markets — NYC, Philly, D.C. — socked in with snow for the period. Debuting in 1,204 sites, it rang up averages of about $ 5, 310, also tops in the field.

A mere whisper behind at $ 6.3 million was Paramount’s “Fire in the Sky,” which had the suburban, Sunbelt advantage. It was also good news for the studio as it marked its first decent opening since July 1992’s “Boomerang.” Since then, it’s had 11 consecutive disappointments, which may be an industry record. “Fire” appeared to be No. 12 until awareness/”want-to-see” tracking kicked in last Monday. It posted opening averages of $ 4,430 from 1,422 identified filmic operations (IFOs).

Warner Bros.’ “Falling Down” withstood the storm relatively erect with a weekend projection of $ 4.8 million to finish third. The urban rage yarn subsided some 37% to deliver averages of $ 2,630 from 1,827 Michael Douglas stands. It has a cume of $ 26 million.

‘Groundhog’ in fourth

Another long-runner, Columbia’s “Groundhog Day,” woke up in fourth with approximately $ 3.7 million. The antic Bill Murray “what if” poked up averages of $ 2,120 from 1,742 movie holes. Off 32% for the weekend, its cume is now at $ 48.5 million.

Fifth place went to Walt Disney’s debutante “A Far Off Place” which the studio was conservatively estimating at $ 3.5 million. The conservation-minded safari wended its way through 1,610 playdates to outpost averages of $ 2,170. As with Disney’s other pictures in the marketplace, “Far Off” was hard hit commercially by the absence of parents taking youngsters to the theater through the driving snow.

Two other premieres, albeit on a more limited basis, also cropped up this weekend.

Cannon fired up about $ 350,000 for its urban actioner “Street Knight.” With averages of just under $ 1,000 from 356 dates, it’s destined for a swift kick and a lethal commercial body blow.

Miramax’s acquisition of the literary classic “Ethan Frome” was not a page turner with a weekend estimate of $ 58,000. Averaging about $ 3,400 from 17 screens, the period drama may be dated but expansion is an altogether different question.

Miramax’s “The Crying Game” continued to reap joyous returns with $ 3.4 million for the frame and sixth position. The “we can’t tell you but you’ll like it” romantic thriller was just 19% down for the weekend in 1,093 playdates. With 3-day averages of $ 3,110, it was snowballed to $ 38.7 million to date.

Universal’s second weekend of “Mad Dog and Glory” got rocked backward 40% to rank seventh with $ 2.3 million. The oddball buddy-romance averaged $ 2,060 from 1,118 tight situations. After 10 days of release it has a cume of $ 6.7 million.

Sophomore outings took it on the chin hardest over the weekend. Columbia’s release of Castle Rock’s “Amos and Andrew” finished 10th with an estimated $ 1.8 million, 50% decline. The interracial comedy averaged $ 1,460 from 1,233 playdates to bring its cume to $ 6.4 million.

Second weekends of Touchstone’s “Swing Kids” and Fox’s “Best of the Best 2” both came in at about $ 1 million for respective finishes of 14 and 15 on the chart. “Swing Kids” drooped 48% on 544 dance floors for averages of $ 1,840. It has a cume of $ 3.5 million.

“Best 2” sank 64% from 1,247 mats and was pinned to poor averages of $ 800. To date it’s grossed $ 4.5 million.

Triumph Releasing’s “Shadow of the Wolf” was left out in the cold with a weekend estimate of $ 250,000, a drop of 67% from its debut. It averaged $ 720 from 345 ice houses for a $ 1.2 million cume.

MGM’s second on “Rich in Love” garnered about $ 80,000 on 24 screens, hardly the mother lode. Down 43%, it $ 3,330 averages boost its total to $ 270,000.

Buena Vista’s “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey” molted about 45% to finish eighth with a studio estimate of $ 2.2 million. Averaging $ 1,300 from 1, 696 paths, its yowled up a total of $ 31.7 million.

Still wishing up a storm in ninth was Buena Vista’s “Aladdin” with $ 1.9 million. Down 22% for the frame, it rubbed up averages of $ 1,450 from 1,308 playdates. After 1,001 nights and 18 weekends, the animated fable has grossed $ 190.2 million.

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