‘Patriot’ marches in with $5 mil

Makes hay before 'Storm' hits this weekend

HOLLYWOOD — In the calm before “The Perfect Storm,” Sony took in $5 million on Wednesday from its summer tentpole “The Patriot.”

Bow for the Mel Gibson starrer is far from revolutionary. Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible 2,” to cite a recent example, scored $12.5 million in its Wednesday pre-holiday debut and that ranked as No. 4 among all Wednesdays.

Solid start

But $5 million has to be considered fairly solid for a lengthy, R-rated period actioner. At 3,061 playdates, “Patriot” averaged a lukewarm $1,638 per engagement.

Adding some luster to the tally was the fact that “Patriot” controlled about one-third of the movie marketplace, one which lately has been quite soft.

Sony execs chose not to comment on the gross. They plan to gauge their fortunes after the long weekend ends Tuesday.

‘Storm’ coming

“The Patriot’s” chief rival, “The Perfect Storm,” opens today with 3,407 playdates, the third-widest bow in history.

Universal’s “Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” also launches wide.

Holdovers of note include DreamWorks’ “Chicken Run” and Fox’s “Me, Myself & Irene.”

The July 4 frame is often the peak of summer. Last year’s four-day mark of $166 million is expected to fall, given the five-day gross window.

But showbizzers are hoping the weekend challenges the record Memorial Day spree of $187 million. An explosive Fourth could get summer back on track, as grosses have slipped 6% behind last year’s record pace.

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