Fox flicks in first, fourth; ‘Fire’ holds the line in 2nd

Fox was definitely the house of the “Rising Sun” as the buddy cop team of Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes pulled down $ 15.5 million to lead the weekend box office. Fox also had the fourth-ranked film in the marketplace with Mel Brooks’ “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” in snug with $ 6.8 million.

The other freshmen — TriStar’s “So I Married an Axe Murderer” and Miramax/Turner Pictures’ “Tom and Jerry: The Movie”– had considerably less ebullient launches. “Axe Murderer” swung into 10th with $ 3.4 million and the animated cat-and-mouse tale wagged in 15th with about $ 1.2 million.

“Rising Sun,” based on the Michael Crichton thriller, appeared to benefit greatly from the debate in the media about its sensitivity (or lack of it) to the Asian community. Its $ 15.5 million debut weekend places it among the season’s most potent openers. It gave the picture $ 10,260 averages from1,510 precincts.

“It’s a very good opening,” said Fox exec VP Tom Sherak. “After the opening day, the protesters just seemed to disappear. So now we get to see how the picture performs on its own merits.”

Columbia/Castle Rock’s “In the Line of Fire” continued to hold the bridesmaid slot with an estimated $ 8.1 million. The Clint Eastwood thriller subsided some 28% in the wake of “Sun” to finish with $ 3,800 averages. Holding up well with 2 ,129 playdates, the film has a cume of $ 67.8 million.

Warner Bros.’ “Free Willy” continued to surprise with its resilience, finishing third with $ 6.9 million. Down 20% for the weekend, the picture averaged $ 3,560 from 1,937 pods. After three weekends it’s rolled up $ 35.2 million.

In fourth was the antic, spoofish “Men in Tights” with $ 6.8 million. The latest Mel Brooks pic, which preemed on Wednesday, entered the weekend with robust numbers virtually equal to the entire run of the filmmaker’s prior “Life Stinks.” The more form-fitting “Tights” ran up averages of $ 5,630 from 1,261 glades. Its five-day total is $ 9.9 million.

Audiences clearly voted for broad over hip comedy as “So I Married an Axe Murderer” chugged into 10th with $ 3.4 million in its first frame. The edgy affair was blunted by averages of $ 2,520 from 1,349 theaters.

Another opener, “Tom and Jerry: The Movie,” landed 15th, just behind Disney’s perennial “Snow White.” The vintage MGM tag-team debuted with $ 1.25 million as it emerged from 1,045 mouseholes, for pale averages of $ 1,190.

In fifth place was Paramount’s “The Firm” with $ 6.6 million. The legal thriller took a harder hit than most when the “Sun” came out, dropping 34%. It averaged $ 3,130 from 2,105 stands. With $ 124.5 million to date, “The Firm” slides into 54th place among B.O. champs.

‘Park’ nears ‘Home’

Close behind in sixth with $ 6.5 million was Universal’s “Jurassic Park.” The steady behemoth dipped 23%, registering $ 3,030 averages from 2,144 tar pits. The film’s $ 282.7 million total is just $ 3 million away from “Home Alone,” the current third all-time grosser.

Though overall business slipped a modest 6% from the immediate prior frame, it continued to march toward a new summer record. The marketplace was ahead by 47% from the comparable weekend of 1992, when Universal’s “Death Becomes Her” debuted atop the charts with $ 12.1 million. And there are no signs of slowing as Warner Bros.’ much-anticipated “The Fugitive” arrives Friday.

In seventh with $ 5.1 million was Columbia’s “Poetic Justice.” The urban romantic drama took a hard fall of 57% in its second weekend, emerging from the ‘hood with averages of $ 3,970 from 1,285 playdates. After 10 days of release, it has a cume of $ 21 million.

Also taking it on the bean in its second foray was Paramount’s “Coneheads,” which sunk 55% to finish 12th with $ 3.2 million and a cume of $ 14.1 million.

Conversely, TriStar’s “Sleepless in Seattle,” in eighth place, was the most resilient of holdovers with a 16% fluctuation and $ 4.8 million gross. The romantic comedy averaged $ 3,290 from 1,458 trysts. The season’s third-biggest grosser has a cume of $ 90 million.

Touchstone’s “Another Stakeout” was ninth with $ 3.5 million. The comic thriller sequel fell 35% in its second weekend with averages of $ 2,370 from 1, 477 posts.

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