Hot pix pace record B.O.

The summer box office continued at a record-breaking pace, as Paramount’s “The Firm” retained top spot for the third consecutive weekend with an estimated $ 13.2 million. Aimed at a younger audience, both national openers proved strong additions to the market landscape, as Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” ranked fourth with $ 8.5 million and Warner Bros.’ “Free Willy” was right behind it with $ 7.8 million in fifth position.

“The Firm’s” gross represented another solid holdover for the thriller, which dropped a trim 26%. It averaged $ 5,520 from 2,393 hard-working prints. To date it has racked up $ 95.7 million to place it among the top 100 all-time box office grossers. It should cross the century mark on Tuesday.

Columbia/Castle Rock’s “In the Line of Fire” added almost 200 playdates and filed into a close second place with about $ 13 million. The Clint Eastwood thriller dipped a very modest 15% for the frame, racking up averages of $ 6,220 from 2,089 perches. After 10 days of release, it has a gross of $ 36 million.

Dropping to third with $ 10.5 million was Universal’s formidable “Jurassic Park.” The dino pic, flexing its heft in 2,556 sites, averaged $ 4,110. Off 32% for the period, it has rung up a cume of $ 255.3 million, which puts it sixth among all domestic money earners.

“Jurassic” was also making big noise in its first encounters in the Far East, Mexico and the United Kingdom. In England, where it debuted Friday, the Steven Spielberg chiller wound up with almost $ 4.3 million in 440 dates after its first two days plus previews. That was a cool $ 1.2 million better than “Batman Returns,” the previous champion opener.

Similarly, the film broke every opening record in debuting territories. In Mexico it generated close to $ 1.8 million from 159 screens, vs. the “Batman Returns”$ 600,000 launch in 118 situations. Taiwan, after a single day, came in with $ 600,000 from six screens as opposed to “Terminator 2: Judgment Day’s”$ 177,000, also on six.

The Korean opening, just shy of $ 700,000 on 20 screens, bested “T2’s”$ 205, 000. Comprehensive Japanese figures, where the film opened Saturday, were unavailable. However, initial data, including individual record-breaking dates of $ 380,000 and $ 310,000 in Osaka and Tokyo, ensures “Jurassic” the championship crown.

Ahead of ’89 pace

Overall business in the marketplace had a downward shift of 13% from the prior weekend. More significantly, there was a 34% upturn from 1992, when “Honey , I Blew Up the Kid” debuted in first place with $ 11 million. It all boils down to earnings ahead of summer 1989’s record pace.

Debuting in the fourth spot was Disney’s family comedy “Hocus Pocus,” with $ 8.5 million. The spooky goofy turn opened with 1,430 playdates for averages of $ 5,940.

A notch behind, with $ 7.8 million, was Warner Bros.’ “Free Willy.” Also family-oriented, the whale of a tale averaged $ 5,280 from 1,476 aquariums.

The freshmen outings got off to better-than-expected numbers but saw lower Saturday bumps than anticipated. Both had increases in the mid-20 percentiles and each film is desperately looking to increase its audience base in the next week.

The other weekend debut, Miramax’s “Benefit of the Doubt,” posted roughly $ 71,000 from 26 locations. The thriller had uninspired averages of $ 2,730.

Continuing its winning ways, TriStar’s “Sleepless in Seattle,” ranked sixth with $ 7.6 million. The romantic comedy was 24% off the pace with averages of $ 4,590 from 1,657 blind dates. It brings its cume to $ 72 million as it works toward becoming the fastest film to reach $ 100 million without ever slotting first in the weekly ratings.

Fox’s “Rookie of the Year” pitched into seventh with a winning $ 6.7 million. The tyro baseball comedy slumped just 27% as it emerged from 1,544 dugouts with $ 4,340 averages. It has a fast-breaking cume of $ 24.9 million.

Hollywood Pictures’ “Son-in-Law” placed eighth with $ 3.6 million. The daffy comedy dipped 25% for the frame with $ 2,660 averages from 1,351 bowers. After three weekends, its cume is $ 21.3 million.

A short distance away in ninth with $ 3.5 million was Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” The animated classic saw its luster tarnish some 42% as it averaged $ 2,200 from 1,578 workplaces. It’s hi-hoed to the tune of $ 26 million to date.

Warner Bros.’ “Dennis the Menace” sunk 55% to finish 10th with $ 2.5 million. The comic strip refugee averaged $ 1,440 from 1,737 playdates. To date it has grossed $ 41.2 million.

Just off the charts were Touchstone’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It” with $ 2.4 million and TriStar’s “Weekend at Bernie’s II” at $ 2.3 million. The latter, in its second weekend, caved 43% to bring its cume to $ 8.2 million.

On the sneaks beat, TriStar teased “So I Married an Axe Murderer” in 400 situations and Buena Vista unveiled 700 on its “Another Stakeout.””Axe Murderer” saw its appeal strongest among the 18-25 age bracket with equal response coming from men and women. A Disney spokeswoman said the studio received very strong response from its “Stakeout” sneaks and feels its comic cop franchise will have ongoing potency.

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