‘Scream 2’ debut coin overstated

But pic still easily overshadows competish

Oops!

Miramax’s “Scream 2” provided a lot of red and green for the Christmas season, but not as much as had been initially reported.

On Dec. 15, the company declared a $39.2 million gross for the opening weekend, an all-time record debut for the Thanksgiving-Christmas season. The industry was amazed by the sequel’s performance.

The amazement continued when, four days later, on Friday, Miramax issued a press release that stated it had miscounted the number of theater locations — over-reporting by 449 sites and $6 million.

Several industry sources said that it was well known in distribution/exhibition circles that Miramax had inflated both playdates and gross for “Scream 2.” One wag said he was sending “a calculator that works” to them as a holiday gift.

Official retraction

The bigger surprise was the appearance of an official retraction.

“We wanted to get the word out as soon as we became aware of the mistake,” said a Miramax spokeswoman. She said that she was uncertain, but believed the company’s distribution department stumbled onto the error on Thursday.

The reaction within the community was that the company was probably legally obliged to make the disclosure, being part of the publicly traded Walt Disney empire.

“I don’t know how anyone misplaces 450 theaters and over-reports $6 million,” said Warner Bros. distribution president Barry Reardon, echoing a commonly held opinion within the industry.

Miramax maintained that the discrepancy came about because its small staff simply could not keep up with the pace of filling last-minute dates. There was no indication whether the company would be making additional hires.”This was an accounting-bookkeeping mistake,” said the Miramax spokeswoman of the current “Scream” miscue.

Outpaced closest competitor

In any case, even diluted by 16%, “Scream 2’s” initial $41.2 million week outpaced its closest competitor by a multiple of five. Its brawny $15,400 theater average pretty much silenced conventional industry wisdom that pictures released in mid-December cannot attract a significant audience.

As expected, its second weekend box office took more than a 50% tumble with the arrival of “Titanic” and “Tomorrow Never Dies” in the marketplace.

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