August market share is ‘Water’ logged

It isn’t a megahit, but Universal’s “Waterworld” managed to float above the competition as August’s top title, leading the studio to a commanding 23.5% market share for the month. The frame saw business ebb some 4% from last year’s record pace, with the current span ringing up a $558.9 million tally.

Universal scored with three pictures earning berths among the month’s top grossers and easily outdistanced Buena Vista, which trailed by some $35 million for a 17% slice of the big picture. A year ago, Paramount commanded the field with “Forrest Gump” and a whopping 32.1% share.

The frame also experienced a 5% decline in admissions from 1994, with an estimated 128.2 million torn stubs recorded.

August’s biggest winners were films from the specialized sector, which gained a significant 49% from a year earlier. An onslaught of potent niche-audience pics have come into the marketplace in recent weeks, including Fox Searchlight’s debut title, “The Brothers McMullen.” Also expanding into September were Gramercy’s “The Usual Suspects,” Miramax’s “Unzipped” and Orion Classics/CFP’s “Jeffrey.”

New Line experienced a late-summer surge with its “Mortal Kombat” opening to upbeat numbers.

The month’s top individual grossers after “Waterworld” (in descending order) were: Buena Vista’s “Dangerous Minds,” New Line’s “Mortal Kombat,” Warner Bros.’ “Something to Talk About,” U’s “Babe,” Fox’s “A Walk in the Clouds,” Sony’s “The Net,” U’s “Apollo 13,” Paramount’s “Virtuosity” and Fox’s “Nine Months.”

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