*’Brady’ No.1 *’Just’ In 2nd *’Heavy’ Slim

The last week saw a couple of significant debuts in Paramount’s “The Brady Bunch Movie” and Warner Bros.’ “Just Cause.” Both turned out to be solid performers, with the former topping the charts with a gross of $17.2 million and a print average of about $9,440.

“Cause’s” effect was $12.6 million, securely in second with a $6,150 average.

From that point, the market-place erodes. Disney’s tyro “Heavyweights” was third with a bit more than $7 million and a none-too-stout $3,650 average.

Opening performance aside, the burning question among industry mavens is whether the top twosome has the power to sustain B.O.

Moviegoing has actually taken a step backward recently. Despite more films in wide release, actual dollars generated per title are in decline.

What’s needed about now is a blockbuster. It would make the machine run smoothly. But this season is void of “event” releases. Instead, we are witnessing the re-emergence of the mid-range success: Pictures that gross $40 million to $50 million – what used to be considered a blockbuster a decade ago.

For example, “Nobody’s Fool,” which has racked up almost $31 million without anyone really noticing. That’s also true for Columbia’s “Little Women,” which is now at better than $46 million.

While these little-noted successes are a nice cushion during a depressed viewing period, they are neither solution nor salvation. There’s also not much of an assist from the current Oscar crop. This year’s vintage isn’t as commercially hot, because the films have pretty much been milked for their commercial worth.

Reissues or expansions of “Forrest Gump,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Quiz Show,” “Bullets Over Broadway” and “Blue Sky” all performed at a decent level – usually with a screen average between $2,500 and $3,500.

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