Everyone was still in pursuit of “The Fugitive” as the chase thriller chalked up another $ 21 million to lead the weekend box office. Surprisingly, the next film in the marketplace was New Line’s debut of “Jason Goes to Hell — The Final Friday,” which provided a heavenly $ 7.7 million for the indie. It beat the bejesus out of fifth- and sixth-ranked newcomers “The Secret Garden” from Warner Bros. and Universal’s “Heart and Souls,” both of which earned about $ 4.3 million each.

Also entering theaters on a limited basis to good results were Paramount’s “Searching for Bobby Fischer” and Fine Line’s “Amongst Friends.”

Warner Bros.’ “The Fugitive” is an inarguable powerhouse. With a weekend of $ 21.4 million, the Harrison Ford-Tommy Lee Jones cat-and-mouse play was off just 10% from its opening frame. That works out to $ 9,050 averages from 2,364 venues and a 10-day cume of $ 59 million.

There’s already the anticipation that “The Fugitive” will be the fourth summer release to break $ 100 million, and it looks to have a potential to do more than $ 150 million and challenge “The Firm’s” current second-place earnings for the year.

New Line’s “Jason Goes to Hell — The Final Friday” blew into theaters on Friday the 13th like a dynamo and wound up scaring up $ 7.7 million. The genre piece collected averages of $ 5,680 from 1,355 hauntings. Less rosy for the long haul was the film’s 40% drop in business on Saturday from opening day.

“The audience for horror films traditionally wants to see a film right away, so it’s not unusual to see a sizable drop,” said New Line marketing chief Mitch Goldman. “Obviously, you’d prefer a film to hold, but there’s no question we found the picture’s audience and this will be a very profitable picture.”

Down a notch to third was Fox’s “Rising Sun” with $ 5.8 million. The thriller dipped 35%, with averages of $ 3,370 in 1,719 sites. It has a cume of $ 40.7 million.

Columbia/Castle Rock’s “In the Line of Fire” checked in fourth with $ 4.4 million and one of the better holds for the frame. Down 24% in 1,808 situations, it was still lively with $ 2,430 averages. To date, it’s earned $ 84.1 million, placing it fourth among summer releases.

Sultry summer

Weekend business continued to see the slow erosion typical of the late summer , with a decline of about 6% from the prior weekend. That still puts the marketplace 26% ahead of the comparable period of 1992, when “Unforgiven” rode herd and Columbia’s “Single White Female” was a close second with a $ 10.2 million bow.

The Warner Bros. juggernaut now has the studio neck-and-neck with Buena Vista as market share leader. With Universal in the mix, each company has box office earnings of more than $ 500 million for a combined gross equal to almost half of 1993’s revenues.

It was a close race for fifth and sixth slots as both Warner Bros.’ “The Secret Garden” and Universal’s “Heart and Souls” preemed with $ 4.3 million. The former looks to be a whisker ahead while the latter did nominally better on a per-location basis.

Frances Hodgson Burnett’s children’s classic “Garden” opened in 1,319 groves for a average yield of $ 3,260. The picture had about a 15% increase for Saturday business and faces the prospect of a long road to hoe.

A similarly difficult prospect is “Heart and Souls,” which bumped up 16% on Saturday for averages of $ 3,370 from 1,276 sites. The fantasy-comedy appears not to have benefited from multiple sneaks.

Paramount’s initial plank on the platform release of “Searching for Bobby Fischer” received good but not great news with a $ 1.1 million weekend and 13th place. The critically acclaimed drama achieved $ 5,020 averages from 219 matches. Though that’s not a discouraging start, the studio has a difficult marketing challenge and has to maintain and expand screens in hopes of finding crossover success.

In the indie arena, Fine Line bolstered its single screen date of “Amongst Friends” to 23 locales for a weekend of about $ 48,000.

Miramax’s Italian omnibus import “Especially on Sunday” fared considerably better with $ 50,800 from five parlors. While its $ 10,160 averages don’t indicate runaway success, it should rank well among foreign-lingo releases.

Universal’s “Jurassic Park” continued to chomp in seventh place with $ 3.9 million. A mere 24% off the pace in its 10th weekend, the dino-mighty pic averaged $ 2,170 from 1,794 digs. It has a cume of $ 299.2 million and should venture into the little-known $ 300 million world on Tuesday.

Warner Bros.’ “Free Willy” took a 33% dip to finish eighth with $ 3.6 million. The PC/PG tale of a boy and his whale splashed up averages of $ 1,980 from 1,820 watering holes. To date it’s earned $ 52.5 million.

Paramount’s “The Firm” buckled some 28% to rank ninth with $ 3.4 million. The legal thriller cruised to $ 2,120 averages in 1,601 playdates. That puts its cume at $ 139.2 million.

Still chortling in 10th was Fox’s “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” with $ 3.2 million. The Mel Brooks spoof fell off 29% as it emerged from 1,406 glades with $ 2,270 averages. It has a cume of $ 24.2 million.

Just off the chart was TriStar’s “Sleepless in Seattle” with a gross of $ 3 million. The romantic comedy passed the century mark on Saturday and wound the weekend with a cume of $ 101.4 million.

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