‘Water’ heats up in N.Y.; ‘Boy’s Life’ grand in L.A.

Robert De Niro and other new blood perked the exclusive movie scene, while the hottest ticket in Gotham turned out to be 8-week-old Mexican import “Like Water for Chocolate.”

WB’s platform release of De Niro in “This Boy’s Life” got off to a strong start, earning $ 38,396 solo in Los Angeles and $ 27,917 in a single theater in Gotham over the weekend.

Miramax’s “Like Water for Chocolate” went through the roof in New York, up 129% at an uptown theater and 36% at a downtown site in its eighth weekend.

Favorable word-of-mouth also gave a boost to Roxie’s “Man Bites Dog” improve 3% to $ 10,539 in its second exclusive weekend in L.A.; Castle Hill’s “Un-Becoming Age,” up 5% to $ 3,941 in third weekend at one L.A. site; and Kino’s “Visions of Light,” moving up 1% to $ 18,294 in second solo weekend in Manhattan.

Fine Line opened its all-star “Bodies, Rest and Motion,” weathering mixed reviews for a satisfying $ 32,749 opening weekend at two Manhattan bijous plus $ 36,065 at three sites in L.A.

Tara Releasing and Empowerment Project’s “The Panama Deception” capitalized on its Oscar victory to return to Gotham for a fine $ 5,367 first weekend at a single screen.

Zeitgeist’s documentary “Manufacturing Consent” had a big $ 22,266 opening weekend solo in San Francisco while moving over from one downtown screen to another in Greenwich Village.

The following are actual grosses for the three days for films in exclusive release.

Los Angeles

“This Boy’s Life” (WB) went through the roof with a $ 38,396 opening weekend at AMC Century 14.

“Bodies, Rest and Motion” (Fine Line) bowed for a hearty $ 15,519 first weekend at AMC Santa Monica 7; $ 11,951 in same at Cineplex Beverly Center; $ 8, 595 in same at Cineplex Century Plaza.

“Man Bites Dog” (Roxie) improved 3% to $ 10,539 in second weekend at Landmark Nuart.

“Un-Becoming Age” (Castle Hill) improved 5% to $ 3,941 in third weekend at Laemmle Sunset 5.

“Like Water for Chocolate” (Miramax) solid at $ 12,264 (down 14%) in seventh weekend at Landmark Goldwyn Pavilion; minus 16% to $ 11,823 in same at Laemmle Sunset 5.

“Just Another Girl on the IRT” (Miramax) nose-dived 83% to $ 694 in second weekend at Laemmle Sunset 5; minus 5% to $ 1,792 in same at UA Coronet.

“Indochine” (Sony Pictures Classics) down 20% to $ 9,382 in 16th weekend at Laemmle Royal.

“The Last Days of Chez Nous” (Fine Line) down 30% to $ 2,975 in fifth weekend at Laemmle Sunset 5; off 8% to $ 3,532 in same at Laemmle Monica.

“Watch It” (Skouras) plummeted 50% to $ 1,794 in third weekend at General Cinema Avco in Westwood; down 49% to $ 2,034 in same at Cineplex Beverly Center.

“Stolen Children” (Samuel Goldwyn) dropped 40% to $ 1,895 in fifth weekend at Cineplex Beverly Center; minus 20% to $ 2,523 in second weekend at Landmark NuWilshire.

“Olivier, Olivier” (Sony Pictures Classics) minus 11% to $ 4,245 in fifth weekend at Laemmle Music Hall.

“Reservoir Dogs” (Miramax) (return) dropped 44% to $ 4,242 in second weekend at Laemmle Monica after $ 13,521 in first, originally advertised as “one week only” booking.

“Close to Eden” (Miramax) dipped 29% to $ 877 in sixth weekend at Landmark NuWilshire.

New York

“This Boy’s Life” bowed with fine $ 27,917 opening weekend at Tower East.

“Bodies, Rest and Motion” debuted with a mighty $ 19,266 first weekend at Village East; $ 13,483 in same at 57th St. Playhouse.

“American Friends” (Castle Hill) opened with a pleasant $ 3,300 weekend at Quad.

“The Panama Deception” (Tara/Empowerment Project) (return) opened after winning an Oscar with an appealing $ 5,367 first weekend at Murray Hill.

“Like Water for Chocolate” zoomed up 36% to $ 21,199 in eighth weekend at Angelika; plus a whopping 129% to $ 15,769 in same at Carnegie Hall Screening Room.

“Visions of Light” (Kino) improved 1% to $ 18,294 in second weekend of an open-ended run at Film Forum.

“Leolo” (Fine Line) minus 16% to $ 15,152 in second weekend at Angelika; down 15% to $ 11,097 in same at Lincoln Plaza.

“Okoge” (Cinevista) down 9% to $ 16,686 in second weekend at Angelika.

“Indochine” even with $ 12,285 in 16th weekend at Lincoln Plaza; off 6% to $ 7,441 in eighth weekend at Quad.

“Strictly Ballroom” (Miramax) up 6% to $ 11,641 in ninth weekend at Angelika; up 26% to $ 11,181 in same at First & 62nd St.; plus 3% to $ 8,986 in fourth weekend at Lincoln Plaza.

“Stolen Children” even with $ 12,391 in sixth weekend at Lincoln Plaza.

“Just Another Girl on the IRT” down 13% to $ 10,633 in fourth weekend at Village Sevenplex; zoomed up 32% to $ 7,134 in same at Orpheum.

“Olivier, Olivier” down 3% to $ 9,732 in seventh weekend at Lincoln Plaza.

“El Mariachi” (Columbia) off 21% to $ 6,945 in seventh weekend at Village Sevenplex; off 31% to $ 5,026 in fifth weekend at Angelika 57.

“Masala” (Strand) slid 43% to $ 3,032 in third weekend at Quad.

“Two Mikes Don’t Make a Wright” (October Films) slipped 46% to $ 4,186 in second weekend at Film Forum 1.

“The Last Days of Chez Nous” minus 29% to $ 5,422 in seventh weekend at 68th St. Playhouse; down 21% to $ 4,697 in same at Village East.

“The Lover” (MGM/UA) dipped 20% to $ 6,826 in 24th weekend at Paris Fine Arts.

“Watch It” minus 26% to $ 3,012 in third weekend at Orpheum; down 42% to $ 2, 171 in same at 19th St. East; off 29% to $ 2,256 in third weekend at First & 62 nd St.

“Riff-Raff” (Fine Line) lost 27% to $ 3,600 in ninth weekend at Quad.

“Tous les Matins du Monde” (October Films) improved 20% to $ 2,811 in second weekend at Worldwide.

“Manufacturing Consent” (Zeitgeist) moved over to Cinema Village for $ 2,015 in first weekend after wrapping Film Forum run with $ 13,703 in third week.

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