Carrey-led April B.O. bests 1996 frame by 8%

Jim Carrey and a 40-foot snake propelled the April box office to $379.3 million, an 8% boost from the comparable 1996 frame. However, the overall gross still fell short by 1% of the record-holder April 1990 and trailed significantly in admissions from several other periods during the past decade.

Estimated ticket sales for the month clocked in at approximately 83.9 million compared with almost 90 million in 1990 and 86 million in 1995.

The difference basically boiled down to an additional dynamic opening. Had Fox’s “Volcano” debuted with the $20 million-plus B.O. that was anticipated, the month’s returns would have been even sweeter.

Universal led in the April market share with $85.8 million and a 22.6% slice of the big pie. Most of that gross derived from Carrey comedy “Liar Liar” — the top individual title for the period. Sony was just 1% behind on a gross of $81.9 million.

While a few niche pics — “Kama Sutra,” “Smilla’s Sense of Snow” and Oscar winners “When We Were Kings” and “Kolya” — found slots in the marketplace, the majors’ new releases decidedly held sway. The 10 top-grossing pics accounted for more than 73% of total monthly revenues.

Once again the span demonstrated that the audience is, if not discerning, very selective in its choices. Programmers can’t expect to even reach the $10 million level as evidenced by such instant marketplace misfires as “McHale’s Navy,” “8 Heads in a Duffel Bag” and “Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie.”

Following “Liar Liar,” the top 10 individual performers (in descending order) were: Paramount’s “The Saint,” Sony’s “Anaconda” and “The Devil’s Own,” Buena Vista’s “Grosse Point Blank,” Fox’s “Volcano,” Warner Bros.’ “Murder at 1600,” Universal’s “That Old Feeling,” Buena Vista’s “Jungle 2 Jungle” and Warner Bros.’ “Selena.”

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