Sylvester Stallone went out on a limb but landed very nicely with TriStar’s “Cliffhanger” climbing to almost $ 21 million and an easy Memorial Day box office crown.
The other newcomers received mixed audience reviews.
Warner Bros’ “Made in America” had an encouraging $ 12 million preem while Hollywood Pictures’ “Super Mario Bros.” failed to entice an older audience with just $ 8 million in the till.
There was also good news for New Line’s ethnic “Menace II Society” with $ 3.6 million but a sad verdict of $ 1.5 million for National Film Corp’s animated “Happily Ever After.”
“Cliffhanger” and Stallone flexed their collective muscles to earn an estimated $ 20.7 million and rank as the biggest non-sequel opening for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Debuting in 2,333 chalets, the high rise daring-do averaged $ 8,870. The critically well received thriller also weighed in as the actor’s best non-“Rambo,” non-“Rocky” opener.
Business was consistently strong on a day-to-day basis. “We’re obviously thrilled with the numbers,” said TriStar distribution chief Bill Soady. “The exit polls have been great and the film should do much better than anyone expected.”
Warner Bros.’ opening of the Whoopi Goldberg comedy “Made in America” was estimated at $ 12 million to rank second. The humorous slant on neo-parental dilemmas received mixed reaction but proved the actress’s loyal following is significant.
It averaged $ 5,860 from 2,048 playdates.
Warners also held the show position with “Dave” holding up very strong with $ 8.8 million. The political satire is the season’s sleeper, emerging with averages of $ 4,640 from 1,916 precincts. To date its polled $ 40.6 million.
Fox’s “Hot Shots, Part Deux” placed fourth with $ 8.2 million in its second weekend. The comic posturing was dandy in 2,141 locations with $ 3,830 averages. Its cume is $ 21.3 million after 10 days.
Hollywood Pictures’ “Super Mario Bros.” got off to a lackluster $ 8 million debut. The game boys took a critical drubbing which impacted with bland $ 3,840 averages from 2,081 arcades. While some industry trackers were estimating higher weekend numbers, no one was shouting hosannas for the commercial outcome or predicting franchise potential. Early tracking pegged holiday box office for films with $ 500,000 plus revenues at roughly $ 86 million to rank it second to 1992.
That translates to about an 8% decline to last year when “Lethal Weapon 3” and “Aliens3” exploded with $ 27.5 million and $ 23.1 million respectively.
However, if early indications hold up, the summer could be bad news for pictures aimed exclusively for youngsters. Comedy and adventure were being given definite preference by audiences with “Cliffhanger” and the “Hot Shots” sequel providing dramatic ironic contrast to current taste.
Still, one observer said all bets were off until the June 11 opening of Universal’s “Jurassic Park,” which he predicted would dwarf all other films in the marketplace.
Paramount’s second-weekend business on “Sliver” nose dived to sixth with $ 7. 3 million. The sexual games people watch was losing its prurient appeal as averages bisected to $ 3,490 from 2,093 peep holes. Its cume is $ 23.4 million.
New Line’s Cannes lauded “Menace II Society” premiered with a very strong $ 3 .5 million to rank seventh. On just 464 screens the ultra tough Boyz earned averages of $ 7,540. Though predominantly playing to black crowds, the company has also seen encouraging results from upscale playdates. It jump started the holiday by two days for a cume of $ 4.2 million.
Par “Indecent Proposal” hung in at eighth with a projected $ 3.1 million. The sexual wager inched closer to $ 100 million with averages of $ 1,940 from 1,602 boudoirs. With a cume of $ 93 million, it should cross over about the time dinosaurs rule the theaters.
U’s “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” continued to drop with $ 2.5 million for the weekend and ninth position. The martial arts romantic bio slipped to averages of $ 1,280 from 1,953 matches. Its total earned is $ 28.5 million. Closing out the top 10 was Gramercy’s fledgling “Posse” with $ 2 million. The black Western took aim at 787 saloons for averages of $ 2,540. It has corralled $ 13.3 million to date.
National Film Corp’s animated Snow White sequel, “Happily Ever After,” was anticipating $ 1.5 million to squeeze into 11th position. Launched in 1,018 playdates, it registered grim averages of $ 1,470.
On the specialized front, Goldwyn continued its slow roll out of the Branagh/Shakespeare collaboration of “Much Ado About Nothing,” generating about $ 870,000 for the four days. The merrie romp earned exultant averages of $ 24, 860 from 35 engagements. The brouhaha has escalated to a cume of $ 2.3 million.