Hits aplenty bolster B.O.

It wasn’t quite a $ 100 million movie box office weekend but it was a record. Revenues for the three days totaled $ 99.25 million to set a new standard for a non-holiday period. That the sesh set some sort of record should come as no surprise, considering the quality and popularity of the current crop of pictures.

In case you were sleeping, summer 1993 feels like it’s stuck in a perpetual loop, when records most people never knew even existed are breaking faster than plates at a Greek restaurant.

For example:

Once again Paramount led the way, with legal eagle Tom Cruise in “The Firm” grossing $ 17,937,098, down 28% from its opening frame. Its screen averages worked out to $ 7,496 and a 12-day cume of $ 73.7 million. There appeared to be no record associated with the film’s second week.

Universal’s second-place “Jurassic Park” clocked in with $ 15,313,050 and screen averages of $ 5,970. It set a new record for reaching $ 236,429,385 faster than any previous film. It took just 31 days, for those keeping track.

Third place, and the week’s top freshman, was Columbia/Castle Rock’s “In the Line of Fire” with $ 15,269,388. It registered strong opening averages of $ 8, 024 and enters the books as the best ever opening for a Clint Eastwood film.

Also debuting was Fox’s “Rookie of the Year,” with a buoyant gross of $ 9,122 ,714. The baseball fantasy showed unexpected strength, averaging $ 6,248 per playdate. It was the best-ever launch of a Daniel Stern-directed film, likely to be beaten when he makes his second feature.

The week’s other major newcomer, TriStar’s “Weekend at Bernie’s II,” had earnings of $ 4,004,668 and averages of $ 3,002. It was the second-best opening performance of a “Weekend at Bernie’s” picture.

Add to the sea of bests the announcement from Miramax that its 16th-rated “Like Water for Chocolate” ranks as the top-grossing foreign-language release of the past decade. The pic has a cume of $ 12,059,871. One has to go back to 1979 ‘s “La Cage aux Folles”– the third-biggest foreign-lingo earner in the U.S. — to top the performance of the current champ.

In short, this summer embodies the best and worst of the comparable frame back in 1989 when bats, ghosts and temples of doom ruled the roost.

Somehow dinosaurs, lawyers and insomniacs seem a poor replacement. In reality they are just as commercially potent — possibly more so. Overall, the pictures in the marketplace add up to satisfying entertainment for the masses as well as the niches. That’s perhaps the biggest achievement of the moment.

But with this string of successes come delusions of grandeur, last seen four years ago. Far worse than the “biggest” and “best” syndrome is another type of dementia. It’s the one that collectively takes hold of normally sane industry minds and invests them with the belief that the marketplace is infinitely expandable. There is no limit in the skies.

Well, it’s reality check time.

Just peek back to summer 1990 for a glimpse of the potential picture one year hence. Voices waft through time saying such things as, “It’s over,””We’re doomed ,””Where are the good pictures?” and “Everything’s gone wrong.”

But this scene need not come to pass. The simple solution — and the clear message of this summer — is that if Hollywood makes good pictures, the people will come.

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