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The ‘Toy’ that ate history

Disney pic joins elite company

In the great card game that is box office, Disney execs have long known that their 1999 holiday hand held at least one ace and one deuce.

The former, of course, is “Toy Story 2,” the Pixar-made toon that has radically altered the end-of-the-year landscape.

The latter is “Deuce Bigelow: Male Gigolo,” but since that pic comes out Dec. 10, its measurements can wait.

Based on Monday’s actual figures, “Toy” sequel bowed to a record $80.1 million over the five-day Thanksgiving span. It was the Mouse House’s sixth straight Turkey Day win.

But forget the holidays — “Toy” joined elite all-time company.

Pic edged out “Men In Black” for the No. 4 five-day total. It trails only “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” “The Lost World” and “Independence Day.”

On a three-day basis, “Toy Story 2” also made history. Its gross of $57.4 million is second behind “Phantom Menace.”

Toon also took in $22.6 million on Friday alone. That’s the fifth-best single day ever, behind outings by “The Lost World” and “Phantom Menace.”

Broad auds drove “Toy Story,” said Disney distrib chief Chuck Viane.

“It’s really catching on with adults,” he said. “It’s not something where we’re limited with who we can draw.”

In a sense, everyone in showbiz had a winning feeling over the weekend. ACNielsen EDI reports the total take for all films at $160.1 million, which sets a new three-day weekend mark. Old record was $157.5 million from July 30 to Aug. 1 of this year.

Three-day span battered last year’s record frame by 20% and spiked 35% over last weekend.

This weekend should be far more subdued due to the between-holiday lull, with shopping and kids’ final exams sapping grosses.

B.O. results tend to drop 50% or more, even for the top pics.

Accordingly, only major releases are Fox’s one-week charity rerelease of “Phantom Menace,” Sony Classics’ Woody Allen pic “Sweet and Lowdown,” Miramax’s “Holy Smoke” and USA’s “Agnes Browne.” No pic will open nearly as wide as “Toy Story 2,” which should remain on 3,236 screens.

Last year, the then-record three-day overall Thanksgiving of $132.8 million shrank 45% to $72.9 million.

“A Bug’s Life,” the former turkey titan with a $45.7 million extended frame, mustered only $17.1 million in its second weekend. Still it was the No. 1 film.

Even with a decline, Mouse House is apt to keep its market-share lead. Huge weekend pushed studio’s 1999 cume to date to $1.02 billion.

That translates to 14.8% of the movie market, about half a percentage point ahead of Warner Bros., which has tallied $896.1 million.

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