B.O. dollars & ‘Sense’

Thriller tops for 3rd week at $24 mil; 'Mickey' taps $10 mil

Hollywood Pictures’ and Spyglass Entertainment’s “The Sixth Sense” continues to be the picture of choice, grossing $24.1 million for the weekend according to studio estimates. The frame also featured a trio of wide releases, but only Warner Bros./Castle Rock’s “Mickey Blue Eyes” made a commercial impact on audiences.

The highly charged psychological thriller “Sixth Sense” hit $100 million Saturday and finished the weekend with its cume at approximately $107.7 million. One of the summer’s rare surprises, the Bruce Willis vehicle was initially slotted for an October premiere. With another sturdy hold in its third week it’s now on course to gross more than $200 million domestically and could well remain in the top spot for three more weeks.

Slipping just 8% during the weekend (after adding 293 theaters), the film was twice as strong as any rival pic on average with $8,970 per its 2,688 engagements.

Universal’s “Bowfinger” held the second spot with $10.7 million despite a significant 41% drop from its opening frame. The insider comedy about Hollywood marginals definitely got audience digits up with a $3,940 average at 2,717 playdates. The Steve Martin-Eddie Murphy pairing has grossed $35.7 million in 10 days of release.

‘Eyes’ wide open

Debuting in third, “Mickey Blue Eyes” was flirting with $10.4 million at the box office. Hugh Grant flexed significant commercial muscle as a transplanted Brit who crosses paths with gangsters as a result of his romantic involvement with a capo’s daughter. Pic charmed a $4,040 average at 2,573 offerings many couldn’t refuse. (The film opened day and date with the U.K. but flash grosses weren’t available.)

Weekend B.O. appears to be just shy of $100 million for the first time since the June 4-6 span. Biz abated 21% from a week earlier, but climbed by 9% from the comparable period of 1998. Year to date cume is roughly $4.85 billion, 6.5% better than last year’s former record pace.

The other freshmen offerings largely served up a cold meal. TriStar’s “Universal Soldier: The Return” was Van Damme-d in seventh with a sagging $4.7 million projection. Definitely fodder for ancillary exploitation, the future-set action sequel averaged $2,870 at 1,639 encounters.

School’s out for ‘Tingle’

The school bell didn’t ring for Dimension’s “Teaching Mrs. Tingle,” which clocked in 10th with $3.5 million. The pic turned out to be one chiller too many for summer with an icy $2,040 average in 1,710 classrooms.

New titles in exclusive release were decidedly limited. Single playdates on Winstar’s doc on amateur boxers “On the Ropes” and Manga’s Japanese animated “Perfect Blue” had respective first rounds of $7,500 and $10,000.

Paramount/Lakeshore’s “Runaway Bride” stayed in fourth with a $9.3 million B.O. The “Pretty Woman” creative team continued to spark with a $2,870 average down 3,240 aisles. Off 32% for the weekend, it has grossed $113.6 million to date.

Battling for fifth and sixth were MGM’s “The Thomas Crown Affair” and Artisan’s summer sleeper “The Blair Witch Project.” Both companies generously reported $7.1 million frames. The romantic thriller “Crown” dipped a modest 30%, holding up quite nicely against marketplace competition. It maintained a solid $2,920 average at 2,427 trysts. Its cume is $42.3 million.

“Blair Witch” had a wicked 51% drop, but its current $120.5 million cume should be sufficient to salve that wound. The low-budget horror yarn has tapped a record amount of commercial zeitgeist for an indie. The past weekend stats included a $2,800 average from 2,538 sylvan cinemas.

Artisan niche pic “Illuminata” went from 8 to 25 screens and bumped up 135% to a $95,000 frame. Also going slightly wider was Trimark/Motion’s lesbian comedy “Better Than Chocolate” adding four theaters and grossing $70,000 for a $3,000 average.

Disney’s “Inspector Gadget” kept going in eighth position with $4.3 million. The family effects laden yarn receded by 29%, averaging $2,000 at 2,144 gizmoplexes. Its gross advanced to $83.1 million.

Warner Bros./Village Roadshow’s “Deep Blue Sea” submerged 43% to rank ninth overall with $3.8 million. The smart shark movie chewed up a $1,690 average at 2,246 aquariums. It has gobbled up a $63.7 million cume as it nears its commercial satiation point.

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