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‘Ballroom’ cuts into B.O.

National releases dominated the holiday business, but Miramax made some hay with Aussie import “Strictly Ballroom.” Distrib’s “The Crying Game” was still Gotham’s top exclusive, posting increases at every theater.

In New York, “Strictly Ballroom” danced up $ 50,010 over the four-day weekend at two houses, earning $ 37,955 at two L.A. sites. “Crying Game” improved to $ 157,146 at four Manhattan theaters.

Fine Line bowed Ken Loach’s “Riff-Raff,” following the filmmaker’s Lincoln Center retro, with a promising $ 24,797 at two Manhattan venues. Same distrib’s “Volere, Volare” failed to catch on with $ 6,135 in second six days down to one screen in New York and just $ 2,630 in six days solo in L.A.

Trimark bowed its New Zealand horror spoof, “Dead Alive,” for an appetizing $ 23,672 at three Manhattan bijous. First Run Features and Castle Hill Prods. opened George Sluizer’s “Utz” at Gotham’s Film Forum 1 for a fine $ 13,396 first six days.

Man Ray Associates’ life-after-cable performer “Guncrazy” continued a strong run at Gotham’s Film Forum 3 with $ 10,002 in third weekend.

Miramax’s “Passion Fish” found a happy second home in Manhattan with a 50% rise in second weekend at Gotham to $ 25,055 while racking up $ 12,235 at three L.A. sites over the four-day weekend. Creative Thinking’s documentary “Brother’s Keeper” bowed in L.A. with a good $ 9,418 in solo booking.

Sony Pictures Classics’ “Indochine” improved in its eighth exclusive week in Gotham to $ 29,313 in five days while earning $ 15,878 solo in L.A.

Los Angeles

“Strictly Ballroom” (Miramax) camped it up for a nice $ 19,034 in four-day weekend debut at Landmark Goldwyn Pavilion; $ 18,921 in same at Cineplex Beverly Center.

“Indochine” (Sony Pictures Classics) was strong in its eighth weekend with $ 15,878 (down 3%) in four days at Laemmle Royal.

“Brother’s Keeper” (Creative Thinking) documented a nice $ 9,418 in first four days at Landmark Nuart.

“Claire of the Moon” (Demi-Monde Prods./Strand Rel.) held well with $ 8,886 (down 10%) in third weekend at Laemmle Sunset 5; down 13% to $ 5,669 in same period at Laemmle Monica.

“Volere, Volare” (Fine Line) opened with a quiet $ 2,630 in first six days at Cineplex Beverly Center.

“Peter’s Friends” (Goldwyn) dipped 10% to $ 3,337 in eighth weekend at Cineplex Broadway; improved 6% to $ 3,163 in same period at Cineplex Beverly Center.

“Tous les Matins du Monde” (October Films) steady with $ 5,582 (down 6%) in eighth full week at Landmark Goldwyn Pavilion; improved 23% to $ 5,731 in same at Laemmle Sunset 5.

“Passion Fish” (Miramax) dropped 28% to $ 3,241 in third weekend at Cineplex Century Plaza; down 17% to $ 5,402 in ninth six-day period at Laemmle Sunset 5; improved 32% to $ 4,597 in sixth weekend at Landmark NuWilshire.

“Bad Lieutenant” (Aries) off 13% to $ 6,448 in fourth weekend at Laemmle Sunset 5; down 53% to $ 2,327 in fourth six-day period at Laemmle Monica.

“Enchanted April” (Miramax) dipped 15% to $ 3,696 in fourth weekend at Cineplex Beverly Center; improved 29% to $ 4,409 in 15th weekend at Landmark NuWilshire.

“Howards End” (Sony Pictures Classics) plummeted 43% to $ 1,659 in eighth weekend at Landmark Goldwyn Pavilion; improved 30% to $ 5,512 in 15th at Laemmle Sunset 5.

“Unforgiven” (WB) (reissue) zoomed up 13% to $ 2,733 in second weekend at Cineplex Fairfax.

“The Player” (Fine Line) improved 6% to $ 3,796 in eighth weekend at Laemmle Monica.

“Flirting” (Goldwyn) opened weekly with $ 721 in first four days at Cineplex Fairfax.

New York

“Strictly Ballroom” bowed forcefully with $ 28,833 in first four days at Angelika; $ 21,177 in same at First & 62nd St.

“Dead Alive” (Trimark) opened with fair $ 10,957 in first four days at Criterion; OK $ 9,479 in same at Village Sevenplex; weak $ 3,236 in same at Manhattan Twin.

“Riff-Raff” (Fine Line) bowed with sock $ 14,257 in first weekend at Quad; pleasant $ 10,540 in same at Festival.

“Utz” (First Run/Castle Hill) opened with decent $ 13,396 in first six days at Film Forum 1.

“The Crying Game” (Miramax) improved 8% to $ 26,490 in third weekend at Chelsea; up 1% to $ 54,807 in eighth six-day period at Sutton (two screens); up 3% to $ 50,946 in 12th six-day period at Angelika (two screens); up 4% to $ 47, 806 in ninth six-day period at Lincoln Plaza.

“Passion Fish” zoomed up 50% to $ 25,055 in second weekend at Gotham.

“Guncrazy” (Man Ray Associates) dipped 34% (with loss of second screen) to $ 10,002 in third weekend at Film Forum 3.

“Damage” (New Line) improved 2% to $ 15,624 in eighth six days at Cinema 3rd Avenue; down 12% to $ 14,756 in same period at Village Sevenplex; bowed with OK $ 7,069 in first four days at Worldwide.

“Indochine” improved 10% to $ 29,313 in eighth five-day period at Lincoln Plaza (two screens).

“Tous les Matins du Monde” up 22% to $ 11,140 in 14th weekend at Lincoln Plaza; up 2% to $ 5,731 in eighth weekend at Quad.

“The Oak” (MK2 Prods. USA) steady at $ 6,016 (down 1%) in fourth weekend at Lincoln Plaza.

“Bad Lieutenant” improved 15% to $ 11,605 in 13th weekend at Angelika.

“Howards End” improved 11% to $ 7,299 in 16th weekend at Village East; up 26% to $ 7,679 in same period at Cinema 3.

“The Lover” (MGM) improved 24% to $ 14,157 in 16th exclusive weekend at Paris Fine Arts.

“Volere Volare” dipped 6% to $ 6,135 in second six-day period at 68th St. Playhouse.

“Unforgiven” (reissue) zoomed up 61% to $ 9,733 in third weekend at Tower East; dead even with $ 8,311 in fifth weekend at Village East.

“Peter’s Friends” off 10% to $ 7,008 in eighth weekend at Angelika; down 15% to $ 5,901 in same four-day period at Carnegie Hall Cinema.

“Enchanted April” amazingly resilient with 20% improvement to $ 10,099 in 29 th weekend at Angelika ($ 412,568 to date at this house); up 19% to $ 6,050 in eighth weekend at Worldwide.

“Reservoir Dogs” (Miramax) zoomed up 57% to $ 8,724 in seventh weekend at Quad.

“Flirting” down 14% to $ 5,241 in 12th six-day period at Gramercy.

“The Player” (reissue) up 12% to $ 3,206 in eighth weekend at Value Art East.

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