Japan’s ‘Cliffhanger’ bow hits high altitude

It may not be “Jurassic Park,” but from opening weekend results it seems that “Cliffhanger” will at least be a small dinosaur of a hit in Japan for Columbia/TriStar.

Getting a jump on the Christmas/New Year’s season releases, “Cliffhanger” earned nearly 283 million yen (about $ 2.5 million) at the B.O. for Saturday and Sunday in just the nine key cities (Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Fukuoka, Sapporo and Kawasaki), according to a representative of Japanese distributor Toho-Towa.

This usually represents about 60% of the domestic total.

The rep said this figure makes “Cliffhanger” one of Japan’s “biggest movies of the year, right next to UIP’s ‘Jurassic Park.’ ”

He said the opening weekend results are “just about what (Toho-Towa) hoped for.” From these preliminary results, he puts “Cliffhanger’s” Japan total at a level comparable to the last of the “Indiana Jones” series. In Japan, “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” earned about 4.4 billion yen (about $ 40 million) in film rentals, or about twice that much box office.

“Cliffhanger” opened Saturday in 177 theaters across Japan; while this figure is indicative of potential blockbuster status in Japan, “Jurassic Park” opened in over 200. Toho-Towa — and even the Japanese film industry as a whole — has been anxiously awaiting “Cliffhanger’s” opening because a disappointing showing would have verified everyone’s worst fears of current economic conditions.

Toho-Towa has pinned its hopes for 1993 on the heavily publicized film. It was the opening screening of the sixth Tokyo Intl. Film Festival in September.

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