‘Fugitive’ outruns the pack

It seemed like everyone was out looking for Richard Kimble, as Warner Bros.’ “The Fugitive” ran away with an estimated $ 23.4 million to leave the rest of the weekend pack gasping. The chase thriller emerged as the all-time largest August opening, putting to shame the other new films in the marketplace. MGM’s “Meteor Man” wasn’t exactly showered with glory in its $ 2.7 million debut and, with $ 1.5 million for the weekend, the response to Touchstone’s “My Boyfriend’s Back” was: Not for long.

“The Fugitive” by all accounts is big, big, big. With the third-strongest opening of 1993, the Harrison Ford-Tommy Lee Jones starrer brought in averages of $ 10,000 from 2,340 locales. It also opened Friday in Sweden and, though exact numbers were not available, initial reports are that the Swedes love it as much as smorgasbord.

“It’s really a credit to the production team and Warner’s marketing department,” said “Fugitive” producer Arnold Kopelson of the film’s successful launch. “It took a long time to develop and get greenlighted, but once we were in production it was apparent we had a highly satisfying film.”

Can a sequel be far away?

“We made it very contained, so I don’t know how you continue the story,” Kopelson said. “We’ll just have to get a clever writer and pay him a lot of money to figure it out.”

Though holdovers generally withstood the prospect of “The Fugitive” being very at-large, newcomers were less fortunate. MGM’s Robert Townsend fantasy “The Meteor Man” landed with a thudding $ 2.7 million in ninth place for the weekend, averaging $ 2,550 from an initial run of 1,060 screens.

Touchstone’s teen comedy “My Boyfriend’s Back” needed more than a vintage tune (it was previously titled “Johnny Zombie”) to elevate its box office. Debuting with $ 1.5 million, it slotted 16th with $ 1,290 averages from 1,165 crypts.

Warner Bros.’ limited release of “That Night” was virtually forgotten in “The Fugitive’s” dust. It registered a mere $ 11,000 on three screens for bland averages of $ 3,670.

Also preemed in limited release was Goldwyn’s “The Wedding Banquet” with seven playdates. Estimates were not available, but a company rep said indications were in the area of $ 3,000 a print.

‘Sun’ eclipsed

In second spot, Fox’s “Rising Sun” dropped some 38% for a $ 9.4 million weekend. The controversial thriller maintained strong averages of $ 5,610 in its second go-round in 1,675 encounters. Its cume after 10 days is $ 31.5 million.

Columbia/Castle Rock’s “In the Line of Fire” clinched third with about $ 6 million to make it a very thriller weekend. The Eastwood-Malkovich pairing slipped 25% for averages of $ 3,120 from 1,925 heated engagements. With $ 77.5 million banked, it’s a nose away from passing “Cliffhanger’s” summer box office.

Weekend business continued to be steady and strong. Fluttering about 2% from the immediate prior frame, it was some 32% better than the comparable weekend of 1992. Warner Bros. also rode herd on the ’92 sesh’s box office, with the debut of “Unforgiven” having stirred up $ 15 million.

Passes $ 3 billion

The year’s box office passed the $ 3 billion mark early last week and now stands at about $ 3.12 billion. That makes it the fastest-grossing year and summer ever.

Warner Bros.’ “Free Willy” slipped into fourth with $ 5.7 million. Now the summer’s undisputed sleeper hit, with a total to-date of $ 45.6 million the combination of orca Keiko and tyro Jason Richter has been a formidable match for Cruise, Clint, Connery and Steven’s dino clack. It dipped just 19% for averages of $ 3,090 from 1,847 marinas.

Still stomping in fifth was Universal’s “Jurassic Park” with $ 5.5 million. The dino dynasty continued with $ 2,880 averages from 1,910 domains. That represented a 21% drop and pushed its cume to $ 292.5 million. That noses the film ahead of “Star Wars” initial release of $ 286.8 million, but the 1977 vintage yarn, including re-releases, has a domestic gross of $ 322 million.

Fox’s “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” continued to earn laughs and bucks in sixth with $ 4.6 million. The Mel Brooks spoof’s aim was true if 33% less potent with $ 3,290 averages from 1,398 verdant forests. Its 12-day cume is $ 18.5 million.

Close behind in seventh was Paramount’s “The Firm” with $ 4.5 million. The legal chicanery fell 36% with the jury at 1,812 sites bringing in averages of $ 2,480. Its cume of $ 133 million places it 47th on the all-time top list.

Not snoozing in eighth was TriStar’s “Sleepless in Seattle” with $ 3.8 million. The radio-driven romance had a modest dip of 23% with $ 2,700 averages from 1,408 dates. Just a whisker away from the century mark at $ 96.6 million, it enters in 91st position in the all-time box office rankings.

‘Murder’ fairs well

TriStar also got good news with weekend sneaks of Woody Allen’s upcoming “Manhattan Murder Mystery.” Audiences responded with a 62% excellent, 31% good reaction to the comedy in about 150 advance screenings. A spokesman said it primarily played to an older demographic.

Both Universal and Paramount had second-weekend sneaks of, respectively, “Heart and Souls” and “Searching for Bobby Fisher.” Initial indications are that both films attracted comparably composed crowds to the first outings. Exit polls were strong, though the films are playing to niche rather than broad audiences.

Columbia’s “Poetic Justice” slotted 10th with $ 2.1 million, sinking rapidly by 58%. The ethno-urban romance, at 1,170 locales, mustered up $ 1,790 averages. It’s earned $ 25.1 million after three weekends.

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