Warner Bros.’ “The Fugitive” maintained a comfortable box office lead as it raced to $ 18.7 million entering the third week of its marathon run. Second for the weekend was the debut of the Jean Claude Van Damme actioner “Hard Target,” which aimed true with $ 10.1 million. Also buoyant in its platform launch was TriStar’s Woody Allen comedy “Manhattan Murder Mystery” with $ 2.1 million, but New Line’s “Surf Ninjas” wiped out with a soggy $ 2 million wide launch.
Still the leader of the pack, “The Fugitive’s”$ 18.7 million represented another strong hold, dipping a mere 17%. The thriller continues to set a comparable pace to the early summer release of “The Firm” but is seeing a lower day-by-day rate of attrition. For the weekend, it averaged $ 7,830 from 2,388 enclaves to bring its cume to $ 89.7 million. At this rate, “The Fugitive” should run past the century mark 22 days into its release next Friday, placing it among the top 10 fastest-ever grossers.
“Hard Target” proved there was something more than dinosaurs over at Universal as it kicked to $ 10.1 million in its preem to rank second. The wooing of Hong Kong director John Woo resulted in taut averages of $ 5,070 from 1,972 stalkings, with business consistent on a daily basis. The dynamic entry now places the studio neck-and-neck with Buena Vista for second place among market-share leaders for the year.
The weekend’s only other wide release — New Line’s “Surf Ninjas”– made hardly a splash with about $ 2 million in the till from 1,321 waves. Audiences clearly wanted their martial arts straight-up, not tongue-in-cheek, as the spoof coasted to opening averages of $ 1,510, finishing 14th for the frame.
There was a close race for third as Fox’s “Rising Sun” rose a little higher with $ 4.4 million. Controversy has not seriously hurt the thriller, which rang in with $ 2,630 averages from 1,673 playdates. Off 28% for the weekend, its cume is $ 48.3 million.
‘Garden’ going strong
A step behind in fourth was Warner Bros.’ “The Secret Garden” at $ 4.3 million. The children’s classic had a remarkably strong hold, just 7% off its opening pace for $ 3,230 averages from 1,332 gingerbread theaters. After 10 days of release, it’s reaped $ 12.4 million.
Weekend box office continued at a brisk pace, outdistancing last year’s comparable span by about 55%. Summer erosion continued, with revenues down some 12% from the previous weekend, but the record earning pace continued, with the year to date rolling to $ 3.38 billion.
Representing some 9% of the year is fifth-place “Jurassic Park” from Universal, which added another $ 3.7 million to the coffers. The prehysteria accounted for $ 2,230 averages from 1,661 attractions. Off 16% this weekend, the film has munched on $ 306 million worth of tickets.
Columbia/Castle Rock’s “In the Line of Fire” took aim at sixth with $ 3.5 million. The Clint Eastwood thriller slipped 22% for averages of $ 2,080 in 1, 683 close encounters. It has a cume of $ 89.7 million, comparable to “The Fugitive.”
A crowd of films entered the marketplace in limited or exclusive situations. Woody Allen’s “Manhattan Murder Mystery” from TriStar launched in 268 situations for a strong $ 2.1 million return. With averages of $ 7,840, the droll comedy demonstrated stronger-than-usual commercial potential for the multi-hyphenate’s cinematic oeuvre.
Gramercy Pictures’ sophomore release, Stephen Soderbergh’s “King of the Hill, ” showed promise with earnings of $ 44,000 from five screens and averages of $ 8 ,800.
Miramax also made a splash with its release of the restored 1961 “El Cid,” earning $ 30,000 from four sites for $ 7,500 averages.
Fine Line’s gender-bending western “The Ballad of Little Jo” revealed about $ 22,000 in a trio of Manhattan exclusives. Its $ 7,330 averages provide a long, hard ride to come.
Last and least with $ 12,600 on three screens was TriStar’s “Wilder Napalm.” With $ 4,200 averages, the company won’t be too fired up to expand the pic.
In at seventh was Warner Bros.’ seemingly unsinkable “Free Willy” with $ 3 million. The more-than-adequate aquatics swam downstream 25% for averages of $ 1 ,750 from 1,715 ponds. The little picture that could has done $ 58.9 million to date.
Warner Bros. also provided some 400 sneak peeks Saturday on “The Man Without a Face,” star Mel Gibson’s directorial debut. Screenings elicited strong response, attracting an older demographic, aware there was more drama than mayhem in the offering. It scored 92% favorable, according to a studio spokesman.
Universal’s second weekend of “Hearts and Souls” tumbled 33% to finish eighth with $ 2.9 million. The ethereal comedy was not tickling much fancy, averaging $ 2,270 from 1,302 clouds. It’s 10-day gate is $ 9.5 million.
Still, the biggest plunge belonged to New Line’s “Jason Goes to Hell — The Final Friday,” which sank 72% to finish appropriately 13th with $ 2.1 million. Its $ 1,550 averages took itsfast ride to a cume of $ 11.9 million.
In at ninth was TriStar’s “Sleepless in Seattle” with $ 2.7 million. Still romancing with $ 1,940 averages from 1,394 engagements, the film had an extremely modest drop of 12%. It has found its way to a $ 106 million cume.
Closing out the top 10 was Paramount’s “The Firm” with $ 2.6 million. The legal wranglings diminished 24% for averages of $ 1,910 from 1,358 briefs. With $ 143.7 million in fees, it ranks second among 1993 releases.