'Breakdown,' 'Powers' 1-2

Outperforming most industry expectations, Paramount’s “Breakdown” and New Line’s “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” moved into the top two weekend slots with $12.7 million and $10 million, respectively, according to studio projections.

On the other hand, it was a losing battle for MGM’s freshman kidpic “Warriors of Virtue,” which kicked up just $3.6 million to land in seventh place; in 2,101 battles it averaged $1,713.

Meanwhile, last week’s B.O. champion, 20th Century Fox’s “Volcano,” flowed into the No. 3 spot. Cooling 35% to $9.5 million in 2,776 eruptions, the Tommy Lee Jones disaster pic averaged $3,429 per explosion. Cume after 10 days is $27.9 million.

The domestic theatrical market as a whole showed signs of warming in the final weekend before the movie summer officially kicks off. The total for $500,000-plus grossers was estimated at $61.8 million, up 4% from the previous weekend and 31% from the comparable frame a year earlier.

But a quartet of limited releases got the cold shoulder from audiences: Gramercy’s “Commandments” broke to just $322,000 in 269 situations for a sinfully low $1,196 average; Triumph’s “Truth or Consequences, N.M.” ‘fessed up to $21,000 in seven locations, or $3,000 per spot; Miramax’s “Children of the Revolution” liberated $33,000 in six class struggles in New York, L.A. and Toronto; and Fine Line’s “The Quiet Room” took in a hushed $3,000 at Landmark’s Pavillion in West L.A.

‘Designated’ hit

The one bright spot in the specialized firmament was First Look’s “Designated Mourner,” which bowed to a joyful $15,750 in a single run at New York’s 68th Street Playhouse. Also promising for the film adaptation of Wallace Shawn’s stage play was its 80% bump Saturday over Friday.

“Breakdown,” directed by first-timer Jonathan Mostow, abducted $12.7 million in 2,108 roadside spots for a $6,025 average.

The PG-13 comedy “Austin Powers,” starring Mike Myers as a swingin’ ’60s superspy set loose in the ’90s, scored $10 million in 2,187 outings for a $4,572 average, according to New Line estimates.

Both films had better initial weekends than pre-opening market research had suggested.

“They don’t seem to realize that you can’t track pictures for young people,” said New Line distribution prexy Al Shapiro. “Usually when (researchers) call, a parent answers the phone.”

Fourth place went to Universal’s “Liar Liar,” which dropped just 19% to $5.8 million in 2,679 theaters for a $2,165 average. Cume after seven weeks is $151.5 million.

Off 25%, Buena Vista’s “Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion” picked up $5.6 million in 1,606 get-togethers, or $3,487 per gathering.

The second division

In sixth, Columbia’s “Anaconda” dropped 32% to $5 million in 2,456 tents for a $2,036 average. Cume after 24 days is $49.7 million.

A No. 8, Paramount’s “The Saint” fell 36% to $3.2 million in 2,118 assignments for a $1,511 average. After a month in theaters, the Phillip Noyce espionage adventure has cumed $52.6 million.

Warner Bros.’ “Murder at 1600” dropped 38% to knock off $3 million in 1,970 presidential residences for a $1,523 average. Now in its third week, the Wesley Snipes starrer has cumed $19.7 million.

Tenth place went to BV’s “Grosse Pointe Blank,” off 35% to $2 million in 1,177 situations. Per screen average: $1,699; cume: $21.1 million.

Meanwhile, TriStar’s “Jerry Maguire” grossed $600,000 in 650 tenpercenteries, bringing its cume to $150.5 million. That makes it TriStar’s second biggest domestic release of all time, surpassing “Rambo: First Blood Part II” which grossed $150.4 million after its May 1985 release. TriStar’s top grosser remains 1991’s “Terminator 2,” with a domestic cume of $204.8 million.

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