‘Ace’ aces at B.O.

The joker was wild this past weekend as comedian Jim Carrey aced the competition with a three-day take of $ 12.1 million for his debut in Morgan Creek’s “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”

While several other films also opened during the last session, none of the newcomers came close, although Touchstone’s “My Father, the Hero” took in a solid $ 5.6 million — good enough for fourth place. “I’ll Do Anything,” James Brooks’ $ 40 million musical-turned-comedy, grabbed an out-of-tune $ 4.7 million , putting it in fifth place.

Two other newcomers — Gramercy’s noir thriller “Romeo Is Bleeding” and Dimension’s action-adventure “Gunmen”– ended up out of the Top 10.

The strong showing by “Ace Ventura,” which opened in 1,250 dog pounds for a hefty per-screen average of $ 6,923, surprised many naysayers who doubted that Carrey, a featured player on “In Living Color,” could carry a theatrical film.

The $ 12.1 million collected by “Ace Ventura” was far ahead of last weekend’s second and third place films — Fox’s “Mrs. Doubtfire” and TriStar’s “Philadelphia.”

“Doubtfire” came in at No. 2 with a three-day take of $ 6.9 million at 2,138 screens; the per-screen haul was $ 3,235. The film, whose legs are considerably better than those of Robin Williams in a dress, slipped just 11%. Its 75-day total is a full-figured $ 181.5 million, putting it at the No. 2 position for films released in 1993, behind “Jurassic Park.”

TriStar’s “Philadelphia,” the AIDS drama, landed in third place, pulling in $ 5.8 million at 1,594 screens for a per-screen average of $ 3,651. The Tom Hanks starrer has raised its 47-day total to $ 44.8 million.

The past weekend’s total take was up nearly 25% from the same weekend a year ago. As expected, the take was also up considerably — almost $ 17 million — over last weekend, when the Super Bowl was played.

Touchstone’s “My Father, the Hero,” the Gerard Depardieu comedy, was the second-best newcomer after “Ace Ventura,” with an impressive take of $ 5.6 million on 1,193 screens for a per-screen haul of $ 4,732.

While most of the songs were removed from the fifth-place finisher, “I’ll Do Anything,” Columbia executives won’t necessarily be singing a happy tune over the film’s opening of $ 4.7 million on 1,205 screens. The pic’s per-screen average was $ 3,903.

In sixth place was Universal’s “Schindler’s List,” which moved up a notch from last week, pulling in a three-day take of $ 4.6 million with a per-screen average of $ 6,070. The film, which jumped 51% from the previous weekend’s outing, added more than 400 screens and has run its 54-day take to $ 29.3 million.

Warners’ “Grumpy Old Men” was right behind with a three-day total of $ 4.5 million on 1,722 screens. The Walter Matthau-Jack Lemmon comedy slipped just 11% and raised its 44-day total to $ 54.2 million.

In eighth place was New Line’s “Blink,” which hauled in an eye-opening $ 3.9 million on 1,540 screens. The film, which had a per-screen average of $ 2,564, raised its 12-day total to $ 10.5 million.

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