WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : ‘Rabbit’ and ‘America’ Battle for Dollars

<i> Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press</i>

Disney’s “Roger Rabbit” continued to top Paramount’s “Coming to America,” despite the latter’s broader release. “Rabbit” grossed $8.92 million at 1,402 theaters, averaging $6,362 a screen, while “America” grossed $8.89 million at 2,064 theaters, or $4,305 a screen. Marketing was a key reason behind the success of both films, says Alex Ben Block, editor of the industry newsletter Show Biz News, which recently completed a study of the impact of marketing on box office results. Paramount, says Block, drew Eddie Murphy fans to “America” without raising the expectation that this would be another “Beverly Hills Cop.” He adds that Disney made “Roger Rabbit” a must-see by stressing its technical breakthroughs.

* “A Fish Called Wanda,” MGM/UA’s quirky comedy, grossed $115,000 at three theaters, two in New York and one in Los Angeles.

Weekend Gross/ Screens/ Weeks Movie (Studio) Total (millions) Average in Release 1. “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” $8.92 1,402 5 (Touchstone/Disney) $84.1 $6,362 2. “Coming to America” $8.89 2,064 4 (Paramount) $81.3 $4,305 3. “Die Hard” $7.1 1,276 2 (20th Century Fox) $10.1 $5,569 4. “The Dead Pool” $6.0 1,831 2 (Warner Bros.) $23.1 $3,285 5. “Midnight Run” $5.5 1,158 1 (Universal) $7.1 $4,775 * “A Fish Called Wanda” $.115 3 2 (MGM/UA) $.314 $38,333

SOURCE: Exhibitor Relations Co.