‘Philly’ no flash in pan at the B.O.

The biggest surprise to emerge from the weekend box office was singularly soft Sunday business. Estimates for the top films in the marketplace were generally between $ 200,000 to $ 500,000 on the overly optimistic side. Sundays have become the bane for exhibitors with male-themed pix.

Football on television has had a decided impact on moviegoing.

The battle between TriStar’s “Philadelphia” and Fox’s “Mrs. Doubtfire” proved even closer than anticipated — a slim margin of about $ 30,000 in favor of the former. “Philly” topped the charts with $ 8,830,605 and a $ 6,819 average. The scenario by some trackers that after an initial rush business would taper off simply proved untrue. The AIDS-related courtroom drama fell 28%, a very good hold.

Even better was the marginal 4% slippage on “Doubtfire” and 5% erosion for Warner Bros.’ “Grumpy Old Men.”

The week’s lone freshman was Paramount’s “Intersection,” which ranked third with $ 7,818,502. Its $ 6,014 average was a decent launch though not in the same league as the studio’s torrid “Indecent Proposal.” The romantic saga unquestionably benefited from the presence of stars and, like last week’s postgame prediction on “Philadelphia,” the common wisdom is that the film will take a sizable second week hit.

The top grossers collectively represent one of the broadest ranges of theme, subject matter and target audience in some time.

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