Pic Profits Vindicate Pic Prophets

That intense period known as the holiday season crested over the New Year’s weekend, finishing with a four-day frame of almost $113 million, and close to $140 million for the week.

New Line’s “Dumb and Dumber” and Warner Bros.’ “Disclosure” – picked by industry analysts as the two most likely to succeed post-Thanksgiving releases – led the frame. In fact, the lineup and the relative strength of Christmas releases carried very few surprises.

“Dumber” remained very strong with young males, the core moviegoing group. Naturally, with the type of ticket-generating power it has demonstrated, the picture has snow-balled, attracting viewers not normally drawn to this type of low comic material.

“Disclosure,” one of the few adult-appeal pix in wide release, has specific interest from “older” males. The success of the book and the star cast prompted Warner Bros. to jump its release several weeks.

The romantic comedies, Paramount’s “I.Q.” and MGM’s “Speechless,” are more for the adult female segment.

Somewhere in the middle are Disney’s “The Jungle Book” and Columbia’s “Little Women,” two classics of children’s lit. Obviously one appeals more to males and the other indicates its gender preference in its title. Of note, Alliance got onto the “Jungle” bandwagon early, securing French-language rights in North America before Buena Vista was part of the financial package. In Quebec, French versions are outpacing the original language prints by about four-to-one.

Sony has been a tad cautious in the marketing of “Women,” which has received glowing reviews and great response from both sexes. But the word didn’t get out early enough to critics or the Hollywood foreign press, and it will have to find its audience based on word-of-mouth, much as “Fried Green Tomatoes” did three years ago. Or, until Oscar nods add new luster.

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