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‘Detective’ aces ‘Getaway’

Warner Bros.’ “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” was still dealing from the top of the deck as it nabbed first for a second time with a $ 9.6 million weekend. Cold weather in the East and Midwest iced the competing newcomers, with Universal’s “The Getaway” off toa comparatively fast start in second with $ 6 million. Disney’s “Blank Check” received a $ 5.3 million endorsement, good for third, while Columbia’s “My Girl 2” was fifth with a soft $ 5.1 million debut.

Heat from Oscar nominations translated into top 10 placements for a Universal pair, with “Schindler’s List” posting better than ever at fourth with $ 5.1 million and “In the Name of the Father” squeaking into 10th spot from close to 500 play dates with $ 2.5 million. Warner Bros.’ relaunch of “The Fugitive” provided a dullish $ 780,000, but new dates on Columbia’s “The Remains of the Day” and Miramax’s “The Piano” saw respective revenue boosts of 110% and 65% for the heavily nominated pix.

Still, the best commercial hand was dealt to the buffoonish “Ace Ventura” produced by Morgan Creek. Barking up $ 9.6 million, the film slipped a mere 21% from its debut weekend. Its unexpected commercial strength sired a pedigree average of $ 5,040 from 1,906 kennels. Its 10-day cume is $ 24.6 million.

There was considerable mileage to be earned from U’s “The Getaway” retread, which ranked second with $ 6 million. The Basinger/Baldwin pairing earned critical nods from those familiar with 1972’s McQueen/MacGraw outing and posted a $ 3,620 average from 1,657 B.O. heists.

Disney’s “Blank Check” banked $ 5.3 million for third, with Saturday business up more than 100% from opening day. The youthful-millionaire comedy arrived in 1 ,698 vaults for a $ 3,120 average.

Freshman, vets and Oscar hopefuls all felt the wrath of severe weather as snowstorms pelted most of the East Coast and swept into the heartland to create a nation of shuts-ins. Only the appeal of current pix staved off that sinking feeling at the box office. Business subsided a slim 6% from a week earlier and was actually 3% better than a year ago for the three days of the four-day President’s Day holiday.

Odds-on Oscar fave “Schindler’s List” nipped into fourth with $ 5.1 million, receiving a healthy 10% boost after its 12 nominations. The intense wartime drama added just a handful of playdates and was rock-solid with a $ 6,520 average from 782 situations. Its current cume of $ 36 million should easily double by Oscar night.

‘Father’ knows 10th

Universal’s rival best pic nominee, “In the Name of the Father,” placed 10th with $ 2.5 million after adding some 300 new sites. The IRA drama swelled 139% for a $ 5,050 average from 495 playdates. Its cume is $ 9.3 million.

Other Oscar contenders, with the exception of “The Fugitive,” also reaped commercial benefits. “The Piano” ranked 13th with $ 1.3 million and shot up 65%. Its 610 concerts played a $ 2,130 average to bring its cume to $ 28 million. “The Remains of the Day” was up 110% with almost $ 500,000 from 250 engagements for almost $ 2,000 per and a cume of $ 20.1 million.

Creating a new momentum for the duo won’t be easy, as both pix peaked commercially long before Wednesday’s Oscar nominations announcement. Still, their current biz suggests more areas to mine, whereas “The Fugitive,” with a $ 780,000 weekend from 1,010 escapades, can’t expect much more domestically after its original run of almost $ 180 million. Its relaunch provided slim pickings with a $ 760 average.

‘Girl’ looks sweet

Columbia’s “My Girl 2” was a perky little nose behind “Schindler,” fifth with about $ 5.1 million. The sequel was tracking and played to a young crowd. But audiences have been cool to recent new chapters of potent originals and its $ 2, 770 average from 1,841 outings attest to that wariness.

Oscar’s snub of Robin Williams aside, Fox’s “Mrs. Doubtfire” was a tidy sixth with $ 4.5 million. Off 35% for the frame, it boosts the film into 17th spot among all-time domestic earners. The comedy racked up a weekend average of $ 2, 350 from 1,914 homes for a cume of $ 187.4 million.

4 nods, $ 4.4 mil

TriStar’s “Philadelphia,” nominated in four Oscar categories, was seventh with $ 4.4 million. The AIDS-related drama slipped 24% with a $ 2,740 average at 1,604 clinics. It’s generated $ 50.6 million to date.

Touchstone’s remake of French flick “My Father, the Hero” declined 29% to rate eighth with $ 4 million. The romantic farce posted a $ 2,910 average from 1 ,373 vacations. It has a cume of $ 10.7 million after two weekends.

Sophomore dropouts

Other sophomores saw very sharp fades. Columbia’s “I’ll Do Anything” fell by half to place 11th with $ 2.3 million. Dimension’s “Gunmen” had revenues of $ 600,000 for a 71% drop and Gramercy’s “Romeo Is Bleeding” hemorrhaged 58% with a $ 520,000 gross.

Warner Bros.’ “Grumpy Old Men” grumbled into ninth with $ 2.8 million. The senior romantic comedy continued to play to all ages despite 38% slippage. Its weekend average of $ 1,720 from 1,632 playdates brings its cume to $ 58.1 million.

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