‘Doubtfire’ hot at B.O.

A good woman is hard to find, but the public once again embraced Fox’s “Mrs. Doubtfire” and made it the New Year’s favorite with an estimated $ 17.1 million. That left Warner Bros.’ “The Pelican Brief” flapping in second place with about $ 12.5 million.

Fox got a jump on 1994 re-leases with the horror meller “Ghost in the Machine ,” which bowed Wednesday and nipped into 10th for the weekend with about $ 2 million.

The other freshmen were both vibrant platform openers. Universal’s Golden Globe nominee “In the Name of the Father” arrived on four screens with $ 100,000 . Savoy’s “Shadowlands” registered with $ 60,000 in three outings.

Refusing to be swept under the carpet, “Mrs. Doubtfire” raised lots of dust and dough as admissions rose 82% to $ 17.1 million. The tootsie of a comedy had a $ 7,350 average from 2,325 pantries. “Doubtfire” crossed the century mark on Wednesday and through the weekend had cleaned up to the tune of $ 122.6 million.

Soaring 13% for the frame, “The Pelican Brief” scooped up $ 12.5 million. The legal thriller made strong points with a $ 6,220 average out of 2,008 dockets. After three weekends it already ranks as the season’s second biggest grosser, with $ 60.6 million.

Holiday weekend business ignited in the manner that exhibitors and distributors have waited for since Thanksgiving. Every major film in the marketplace saw a boost; many had sizable increases. Overall there was a 30% increase from last weekend, but still a 16% decrease from the comparable weekend a year earlier. The drop could be partly attributable to the fact that this year’s holiday fell on a Saturday.

Positions three through six proved a very tight race with studio figures and positioning often at odds. Buena Vista claimed third and fourth slots for “Tombstone” and “Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.” Warner Bros. estimated its “Grumpy Old Men” third. Along with Universal’s “Beethoven’s 2nd,” the foursome was configured in a variety of ways. Based upon studio figures, the following order prevails:

Hollywood Pictures’ “Tombstone” rode hard into third with $ 8.3 million. The oater blasted away with a $ 4,250 average from 1,955 saloons. That’s a non-comparative 28% increase from its two-day opening weekend. After nine days, pic has a cume of $ 22.7 million.

Trilling in fourth was Touchstone’s “Sister Act 2” with $ 8.1 million. The gospel according to Whoopi rose heavenward by 53% for a $ 3,150 average from 2, 106 pulpits. Its cume is $ 40.9 million.

Warner Bros.’ “Grumpy Old Men” had no reason to complain in fifth with $ 7.8 million. It had by far the biggest boost of the frame with 101% — like “Tombstone,” that’s for three days vs. two — and a virile $ 6,270 average from 1,244 sites. Its cume is $ 17.3 million.

Universal’s “Beethoven’s 2nd” had a sixth-place litter of $ 7.1 million. The most resilient of the seasonal sequels, it barked upwards by 67%. The well-heeled pooch had a $ 3,460 average from 2,049 kennels. It has a cume of $ 31.5 million.

Paramount’s “Wayne’s World 2” came out schwinging in seventh with $ 3.9 million. The dynamic dudes had a modest 8% rise with a $ 1,740 average from 2, 240 engagements. It’s grossed $ 40.1 million to date.

Tickling the ivories in eighth was Miramax’s “The Piano” with $ 2.3 million. The acclaimed period drama had a jaunty boost of 62% for the frame. It made for an engaging $ 4,400 average from 523 recitals. Its cume stands at $ 17.1 million.

In ninth was Columbia’s “Geronimo” with $ 2.1 million. The stuff of legends saw B.O. whoop upward 24% for pale averages of $ 1,280 from 1,636 encounters. To date it’s earned $ 15.2 million.

In limited release, Universal’s “Schindler’s List” remains the loudest voice in the marketplace. The lauded Holocaust drama ranked 12th with $ 1.4 million, representing a 10% box office spurt. Its 76 outings rang up a resounding $ 18, 420 average for a cume of $ 5.9 million.

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