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January sets B.O. record

For the third consecutive year, January box office revenues roared into the new year with more than $ 400 million in the cash drawer. Estimates for the first month of the year are close to $ 420 million, a record that represents an almost 2% increase from the prior record year.

This was despite significant disruptions from record-breaking cold weather on the East Coast and the earthquake in Southern California.

A comparable boost was registered 12 months earlier from 1992. However, the previous January growth has been keyed to new films in the marketplace whereas 1994 has been spurred along on the strength of late 1993 releases in general release or put in an expansion mode.

It also marked the third year that Buena Vista has started the year as the market share leader. The company, which had nine titles in release, amassed $ 91 million for a 21.7% slice of the pie.

Warner Bros. was not far behind with a 19.6% share based on box office of $ 82.2 million.

Fox’s “Mrs. Doubtfire” was the top individual title for the month and boosted the company into third place. With only two titles in release, tremendous weight was placed on those spindly legs.

Similarly, fifth-ranked TriStar — also with two titles — earned its spot largely on the performance of “Philadelphia.” Other top grossers for January included Warner Bros.’ “The Pelican Brief” and “Grumpy Old Men,””Schindler’s List” and “Beethoven’s 2nd” from Universal, Savoy’s “Shadowlands” and the Buena Vista releases “Tombstone,””The Air Up There” and “Iron Will.”

Columbia, last year’s bridesmaid, slipped to 10th with less than a 2% share. Comparatively fledgling outfits such as New Line, Savoy and Miramax easily bettered the lady with a torch. However, indie outlets largely found themselves usurped by high-brow fare from the studios, including “Schindler” and “Philadelphia.”

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