Dinos downshifting

'Lost' tops despite 55% drop; no bite in openers

Universal’s “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” towered above its weekend competitors with a studio-estimated $32.9 million in its sophomore attack. The Steven Spielberg-helmed monster movie frolicked in 3,283 game preserves, averaging a powerful $9,930 per playdate. The film has already amassed a staggering $140 million in its first 10-1/2 days.

Warner Bros.’ “Addicted to Love” remained in second place, off just 31% to $6.4 million in 2,019 recovery programs or $3,170 per fix. Cume is $20.3 million.

Meanwhile, three freshman comedies dialed for counterprogramming dollars over the weekend but failed to connect with audiences.

Buena Vista’s “Gone Fishin’ ” reeled in just $5.5 million in 1,841 spots, or $2,988 per cast to land at No. 3; New Line’s “Trial and Error” had to settle for $5 million in 2,298 courtrooms for a $2,176 average, condemning it to fourth place; and Lakeshore and Paramount’s romantic comedy ” ‘Till There Was You,” which bowed to an abysmal $1.3 million in 753 dates, or $1,726 per engagement, took the No. 10 spot.

Despite “The Lost World’s” mammoth second weekend take, some observers were surprised by the 55% dropoff from the previous Friday-Sunday period. The plunge was reminiscent of the one suffered by Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible” last year. That film slid 52% from its $56.8 million Memorial Day weekend debut to $21.6 million in its followup frame.

While “The Lost World’s” initial four-day gross was record-shattering, the film apparently is not immune to the recent trend of ultra-wide, blockbuster debuts followed by steep declines.

While the policy of opening pictures on four, five, six or even more screens at multiplexes has ensured that huge opening weekend crowds can be accommodated, it also has front-loaded the U.S. theatrical runs of most pictures.

“A lot of holdover business probably used to come from people who were turned away — or who wouldn’t even try to go see a film — on opening weekend,” said one distribution exec at a rival studio. Sellouts have become much less common in the age of the megaplex.

It also appears the dino sequel is not attracting the kind of repeat business the original “Jurassic Park” feature enjoyed.

Based on the second weekend drop, many observers now predict the film’s final domestic take will be somewhere between $225 million and $275 million — a figure that would still put the film in the upper echelons of the all-time box office leaders.

“Lost World’s” falloff, coupled with the lack of any strong new product, put the weekend’s overall total below the comparable period in 1996 for only the third time this year.

Ticket sales for films grossing $500,000 or more were estimated at about $69 million, down about 9% from the May 31, 1996, weekend when “Mission,” “Twister” and “Dragonheart” topped the charts. Business was off about 40% from the non-holiday portion of last weekend.

Fifth place went to Sony’s “The Fifth Element,” down 37% to $4 million. In 2,500 situations, the Bruce Willis starrer averaged $1,600. Now in its fourth week, the sci-fi adventure has cumed $51.5 million.

New Line’s “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” dropped a cool 26% to $3.4 million in 2,118 scenes for a $1,605 average. Cume after one month in release is $39.6 million.

At No. 7, Paramount’s “Breakdown” skidded 29% to $3.2 million in 2,348 pit stops, or $1,363 per station. Cume after 31 days: $42.4 million.

Warner Bros.’ “Fathers’ Day” plummeted 56% to $1.7 million in 2,151 locations for a $790 average. Twenty-four days into its run, the Robin Williams-Billy Crystal comedy has cumed a mere $26.1 million.

In ninth place, Universal’s “Liar Liar” was down 39% to $1.5 million in 1,328 complexes for a $1,130 average. To date, the Jim Carrey starrer has earned $166.6 million.

Taking a look at arthouse fare, UGC and Goldwyn’s “Rough Magic” levitated just $58,800 in 28 acts for a less than enchanting $2,099 average. Fine Line’s “Love! Valour! Compassion!” slid 33% to $197,000 in 31 theaters, or $6,355 per outing, bringing the cume to $909,000.

Miramax’s “Brassed Off” trumpeted a $130,000 gross after expanding its ranks to 36 locations, giving it a $3,611 average. Cume: $200,000.

The minimajor also reported that its Wes Craven horror pic “Scream” grossed an estimated $775,000, pushing its cume to $100.2 million.

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