SHOCK JOCK LOCKS NO. 1

'Private Parts' tops 'Jungle' at $15.1 mil

Paramount’s “Private Parts” muscled a brawny $15.1 million (including roughly $800,000 from Thursday previews) to strong-arm its way to first place in the weekend box office. But it was by no means a walk for the Howard Stern biopic, as Disney’s “Jungle 2 Jungle” was close behind with an estimated $12.7 million sans sneaks.

“The exit polls on the film were better than anything I’ve done before,” producer Ivan Reitman said of the Par pic. “It’s averaging about 80% in definite recommends and the difference between Stern (radio) markets and non-markets is negligible.”

“Private Parts” flexed a hefty $6,690 average from 2,138 prints during its weekend debut. Not surprisingly, the film was strongest in big cities where Stern holds court daily on the radio. Heartland and Southern engagements didn’t embrace the shock jock with as much vigor, but fans definitely wanted to see the film right away as evidenced by strong Thursday eve response and a tepid 6% rise in Friday to Saturday box office.

“Jungle 2 Jungle,” in contrast, expanded about 85% on Saturday and took first spot for the day. The Tim Allen family comedy outperformed pundit predictions that pegged it at about $10 million. It should wind the frame with a $5,480 average from its initial run in 2,316 lairs.

Weekend box office appears headed toward $80 million, which is about 2% down from a week earlier but 8% better than the comparable weekend of 1996. Through Sunday the domestic year hit $1.15 billion, roughly 25% better than a year earlier and a record-setting pace.

Close third

Third spot proved to be a bit of a tussle, with Sony reporting $8.2 million for the TriStar gangster meller “Donnie Brasco” and Fox checking in with $8 million for its “Empire Strikes Back” reissue. While “Donnie” pulled ahead of the Force on Friday, it was trailing by almost $100,000 going into Sunday. A Sony spokesman said based on opening weekend biz, they expected Sunday B.O. to be comparable to Friday. However, “Empire” has routinely bettered Friday admissions, thanks to strong matinee crowds.

Based on studio estimates, “Donnie” was off 30% with a $5,150 average at 1,593 sanctions. It has a 10-day cume of $23.7 million. “Empire” dipped 39% in 2,109 outposts to garner a $3,790 average. Its $274.3 million cume now ranks it eighth all-time domestically, just ahead of “The Return of the Jedi.”

Debuting on a limited basis, Miramax’s rap music documentary “Rhyme & Reason” scored a decent $850,000 at 280 stands. Its opening bar set an average tempo of $3,040. The Wednesday opener has a $1.1 million cume.

The weekend also saw the first major releases for a couple of startup distribs. East/West Film’s “Good Luck” was short on its title sentiment with $42,000 from 107 screens for a frail $400 average. Phaedra Films’ indie “Sudden Manhattan” went solo in NYC with an OK $3,000.

Exclusives on a roll

Other exclusive fare included a very upbeat $35,000 from two Gotham sites for CFP’s Slamdance hit “The Daytrippers.” Strand’s “Boys Life 2” was equally strong with $42,000 at three, while Live’s single Manhattan “Gentlemen Don’t Eat Poets” nibbled $4,500. First Look’s Swedish Oscar-submitted “Jerusalem” was short of Mecca with $11,000 at three shrines.

Columbia’s “Booty Call” declined 34% to finish fifth overall with $4.2 million. The funky safe sex comedy was still relatively lively with a $3,340 average at 1,272 dispensaries. It’s grossed $14 million after two weekends.

Fox’s “Star Wars” re-release ranked sixth with a $4 million frame. Zapped by 42%, it recorded a $1,977 average from 2,037 Dolby arenas. Its empire has now collected $453.4 million.

Columbia/Castle Rock’s “Absolute Power” was lucky No. 7 with a $3.7 million gross. The exec decision thriller was down in the polls by 35% for an average approval rating of $1,750 from 2,116 movie ballot booths. It has a cume of $42.1 million.

Spilling over into eighth spot was Universal’s “Dante’s Peak” with $3.3 million. Abating 37%, the volcanic saga slowed to a $1,450 average at 2,280 craters. It’s grossed $56.9 million to date.

Squeezing into ninth was Warner Bros.’ “Vegas Vacation” with a $2.4 million weekend roll. The game comedy spun the wheel at 1,873 venues for an average return of $1,290. Off 47%, the outing has a cume of $30.6 million.

And finishing 10th by a whisker was Miramax’s “Marvin’s Room,” reporting $2.35 million. The family drama dipped 26% for a $2,040 average at 1,158 chambers. Its cume is $8.6 million.

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