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Limited pics in B.O. dark

Outages boosts exhibs, but have minimal impact overall

While some New York venues remained closed Friday night, power outages, by and large, seemed to stimulate box office, but hurt certain limited releases.

Exhibs managed to open their biggest commercial venues, ringing up boffo biz from power-starved patrons seeking air-conditioned comfort and cool concessions.

Loews opened its huge Loews Lincoln Square cinema in upper Manhattan by Friday night, and AMC its nearby Empire megaplex. The Empire rang up a huge $28,000 Friday night for New Line’s bowing horror pic “Freddy vs. Jason.”

“It was pure escapism for people,” New Line spokesman Christina Kounelias observed.

Things weren’t quite so rosy in Cleveland, Detroit or Toronto. Like Gotham, those cities were also hit by massive power outages Thursday, but they remained largely in darkness into Friday night.

Still, the power outages appeared to have a minimal impact on industrywide box office this weekend.

“It wasn’t much of a factor,” said Dan Marks, exec veep at box office tracker Nielsen EDI. “Most of the theaters got up and going by the weekend.”

Specialty distribs had the diciest time. Gotham’s arthouses canceled Friday matinees and at least some screens were still dark into the evening. “There were certain theaters that didn’t open, but those that did were up dramatically,” Newmarket marketing maven Bob Berney said.

Fine Line’s “American Splendor” — a well-reviewed biopic about quirky comics writer Harvey Pekar — would seem the pic most challenged by power woes. But “Splendor” still managed a splendid limited bow.

Its six opening runs were limited to L.A., Gotham, Toronto and Cleveland, the last three repping a virtual Blackout Central. Yet “Splendor” still managed to ring up an estimated $156,000, an impressive $26,000 per location.