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'Starship Troopers' blows away other openings

Nov. 11, 1997

'Starship Troopers' blows away other openings

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- The giant-bug killing soldiers of 'Starship Troopers'' and bumbling Brit 'Bean'' drew bigger box office audiences that the stars of 'Mad City,'' John Travolta and Dustin Hoffman.

The three films debuted over the weekend and finished No. 1, No. 2, and No. 6, respectively, according to industry estimates Sunday.

'Starship Troopers,'' featuring gory intergalactic battles between humans and dinosaur-sized pests, grossed an estimated $22 million in its first weekend with a cast of mostly unknown young TV actors.

Although the film far exceeded ticket sales of No. 2 'Bean,'' analysts said turnout was lower than anticipated due, in part, to its R rating for violence and nudity.

'The fact that 'Starship Troopers' maybe didn't do as well as some people expected is probably because it kind of lost the 7- to 16-year-old audience -- the lucrative audience that bought repeat tickets to 'Men in Black,'' said Robert Bucksbaum, president of Reel Source, Inc., an industry newsletter.

'Men in Black,'' about Earth secret agents battling an alien cockroach, had a debut gross of $51.1 million over three days. However, it also opened during the lucrative Fourth of July weekend.

Bucksbaum said young moviegoers contributed to the success of 'Bean,'' already a hit in European and Canadian theaters. The film grossed $13 million in its first weekend of wide U.S. release, according to Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc.

'I think for a British comedy that's a terrific opening for 'Bean,'' said Art Rockwell, Yeager Capital Markets analyst. 'I think what it says is if a picture's funny it's going to play.''

'Mad City,'' a drama about an ambulance-chasing journalist (Hoffman) and a troubled museum security guard (Travolta), was the only other new movie in wide release. The film came in sixth place with $4.7 million, preceded by three earlier releases.

'Boogie Nights'' was No. 7 with $4.1 million.

Another new film, 'Eve's Bayou,'' opened on only 659 screens. Its $3.3 million take placed the Samuel Jackson production at No. 8 and gave it the third-highest per-screen average at $5,008.

Another limited release, 'The Wings of the Dove,' made $175,000 on only seven screens.

Estimates for Friday through Sunday for movies released in North America:

1. Starship Troopers -- $22 million.

2. Bean -- $13 million.

3. I Know What You Did Last Summer

-- $6.6 million.

4. Devil's Advocate -- $5.02 million.

5. Red Corner -- $5 million.

6. Mad City -- $4.7 million.

7. Boogie Nights -- $4.1 million.

8. Eve's Bayou -- $3.3 million.

9. Kiss the Girls -- $2.5 million.

10. Seven Years in Tibet -- $2.1 million.

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