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‘D2’ slips through the quacks at B.O.

Disney’s “D2: The Mighty Ducks” had quite a slap shot, arriving on the scene to lead the marketplace with $ 10,356,748 in its opening weekend. The pond either got deeper or was more shallow than expected — depending on which industry analyst leads the discussion. The sequel went very wide and generated a $ 4,746 average. But to demonstrate just how mighty the screen athletes were, consider that the original had a $ 4,715 average on 40% fewer screens.

However, predicting the power play of “Ducks” or last week’s debut of “Monkey Trouble” is becoming the bugbear of the industry. Films with preteen appeal simply aren’t tracked by sampling the target audience. The industry norm is to start polling at age 12.

The trackers won’t even consider adding the young set because it would seriously skew results for other upcoming pictures. In turn, it would mean that years of trend data might have to be thrown out … perish the thought. So, the wisdom has been (stated or otherwise) that it’s better to have wildly unpredictable and likely incorrect info than upset the apple cart. “Monkey,” for instance, had a better opening weekend than the soothsayers predicted; “Ducks” did not. And with an increasing proportion of movies being aimed at families and kids, how long can the folks in the executive suite tolerate not having a finger on the pulse of their audience.

‘Paper’ a tiger

Universal’s unconventional platform of “The Paper” rolled off the presses well-inked with a third-place $ 7,005,640. Following last weekend’s five exclusives and numerous sneaks, the film had a solid $ 6,415 average in its wide release. The picture is definitely stepping out on the right foot but will require ongoing care to maintain its position.

New Line’s basketball drama “Above the Rim” opened last Wednesday and built enough of a buzz to finish its first weekend in seventh with $ 3,738,800. Its average was $ 4,472 and its urban, ethnic slant will find the company once again taking a niche strategy in its exploitation.

‘Kite’ won’t fly

On the specialized side, new entries experienced soft to dire returns. Kino’s Chinese “The Blue Kite” generated a weak $ 2,990 in a single San Francisco house despite very positive reviews. Castle Hill fared even worse with its “Under One Roof” experiencing a slim $ 1,866 from a Gotham solo.

Alain Resnais’ Cesar-winning “Smoking/No Smoking” combo each popped up on two screens in Quebec for a combined gross of $ 8,135. Though the films do not depend on one another narratively, the public still felt compelled to see “Smoking” first. Even with that consideration, the box office was not encouraging.

Oscar boost

The past weekend also saw every Oscar-winning picture’s box office get a boost — even, for that matter, “Midnight Cowboy,” which earned its awards back in 1970. “Schindler’s List,””Philadelphia” and “The Piano” each added 100-200 dates and had proportionate bumps in their business. In the latter two instances , Oscar attention isn’t likely to continue more than another week or two.

And even though “Mrs. Doubtfire” had an 8% uptick in 100 fewer situations, it’s hard to imagine a public eager to see the film based solely on its makeup Oscar.

The long run will belong to “Schindler” with the upcoming two weekends determining whether it will ultimately gross more than $ 100 million domestically.

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