Fandom ‘Menace’ hits $7.5 mil in first 6 hrs.

B.O. bow heading for 'Jurassic' proportions

Based on a limited sampling of the 2,011 theaters offering midnight screenings of “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” Twentieth Century Fox is estimating grosses in the vicinity of $7.5 million for Wednesday night shows between 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Twentieth Domestic Film Group chairman Tom Sherak cautioned that the final outcome could vary by as much as 20%, since the projecton was extrapolated from the roughly 600 theaters which reported their pre-dawn grosses.

Either way it’s an incredible turn-out for the latenight shows, especially given the fact that it’s a non-holiday period.

Fox’s “Independence Day” holds the record for advanced screenings, taking in $11.1 million on Tuesday, July 2, the day before it’s first full day in release. But in the case of “ID4,” theaters were allowed to begin showing the pic at a 6:00 P.M., and the July date ensured that virtually all school-aged children were on vacation at that time.

“Menace,” which bowed Wednesday on a total of 2,970 theaters, is on track to top the record single-day gross of $26.1 million, set by Universal’s “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” in 1997.