Romance at heart of boffo B.O.

A varied menu provided for a solid President’s Day holiday weekend led by Columbia’s kinder-gentler comedy “Groundhog Day,” which bumped “National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon I” out of the top slot with an opening four-day gross of $ 14,652,108 on 1,640 screens, a groundswell $ 8,934 per screen.

That’s the second-largest winter opening behind last year’s “Wayne’s World” and, except for the aptly named “Hexed,” Columbia’s been running a solid skein on opening weekend totals.

Even without Wayne and Garth, the top 10 films ended up with $ 62,539,712, only 2% behind last year’s crop.

Romance was in the air, especially on Sunday, which provided “Sommersby” with an improved second weekend of $ 9,937,001 on 1,710 screens, the extra day’s business bumping totals up 23% from the three-day opening. The 11-day cume is a tears-of-joy $ 20.4 million.

Family fare from Buena Vista showed there was safety in multiple admissions. Third place went to “Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey,” which expanded to 1,702 theaters and found its way home to $ 8,112,515, averaging around $ 4,766 a print.

In light of the competition for its youthful audience, “Aladdin” declined only 12% to a still plenty-pleasing $ 6,734,049 in 1,903 theaters. Total to date is $ 173.5 million, assuring it will be the highest-grossing film since “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

“Groundhog” sucker-punched New Line’s “Loaded Weapon I,” sending the spoofer reeling to fifth place with $ 6,109,978 in its second weekend. But the film still managed to attract enough young males to reap $ 3,032 on each of 2,015 screens for an 11-day total of $ 17.4 million. If this one takes off overseas — and it might — it could warrant a sequel.

MGM didn’t strike out with “Untamed Heart,” but despite best intentions, the four-day opening of $ 4,125,556 on 1,123 screens was not all that was hoped for — especially in light of mostly upbeat reviews. “Untamed” needs to hold steady to become even a modest performer.

‘Vanishing’ fading

No such luck for Fox’s “The Vanishing,” which was erased by 30% to $ 3,530, 278 on 1,658 screens and has amassed only $ 9.8 million in 11 days. But it’ll undoubtedly make more than Paramount’s “The Temp,” which had an if-you-blink-you’ll-miss-it debut of $ 2,877,744 on 1,438 screens.

Even worse was BV’s “The Cemetery Club” with a $ 1,869,911 start on 523 screens. It probably won’t be going much wider.

And barring an Oscar nomination for Michelle Pfeiffer, Orion’s “Love Field” is not long for theaters based on its 211-screen break this weekend, which resulted in $ 300,998.

Two Oscar hopefuls with some mileage left on them are Columbia’s “A Few Good Men,” which earned $ 3,271,338 on 1,352 screens for a total of $ 124 million to date.

And U’s Golden Globe winner “Scent of a Woman,” in 1,208 runs, snagged $ 3, 189,145 for $ 38.1 million so far.

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