Did Exhibs Overestimate ‘Godfather III’?

Though “Godfather III” is doing twice the business of “Godfather II” and is on its way to grossing a healthy $80 to $90 million, some theater owners are grousing, and even talking about dropping it ahead of schedule. That’s because “Godfather III” was sold aggressively to exhibitors on a complicated formula structured around the gross of the Par blockbuster “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade.” Exhibs, who coveted the pic, jumped at the deal. But now they’re disappointed by the way business has fallen off.

Like “Godfather II,” “III” could build momentum if it wins Oscars, or at least gets a swarm of nominations. Still, noms are a month away, and Warner Bros. is planning a rerelease of its acclaimed mob saga “Goodfellas.” One source reasoned that between receipts and concession biz, exhibs did so well from Par’s long-running “Ghost” that chains can’t complain too loudly. Sources said the studio asked exhibs to hang in until Jan. 18, so a dropoff in theaters starting this weekend can be expected. A spokesman said the studio never comments about its relationship with exhibitors.

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