Michael J. Fox was no match for muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger at the weekend box office. With ticket sales of $25.5 million, Tri-Star Pictures' "Total Recall"--which sends Schwarzenegger to Mars--sent the box office into hyperspace for the year's biggest three-day opening.
"Total Recall" edged out the previous record-holder, New Line Cinema's "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," by a hair: the "Turtles" opened with $25.3 million.
With its startling victory, the R-rated "Total Recall"--which opened to mixed reviews--got the summer movie sweepstakes war off to a formidable start and marked Schwarzenegger's successful re-entry to the action-adventure genre following a string of titles which misfired at the box office. (Among them: "Red Heat" (1988), which earned $29 million; "Predator" (1987), $25 million; "The Running Man" (1987), $27 million.)
Meanwhile, Universal Pictures' "Back to the Future III," starring Fox as time-traveling teen Marty McFly, continued in the tradition of "Future II," which had a strong opening (last November) and then spiraled downward.
The second-place ranked "Future III" had ticket sales of $10.3 million, following its splashy Memorial Day holiday weekend debut, in which it earned $23.7 million over four days. This represents a tumble of more than 50%, which doesn't bode well for the box office future of "Future III."
Continuing on its successful flight, Universal's "Bird on a Wire," was ranked third, with ticket sales of $6.3 million. The action-comedy starring Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn, has now flown off with more than $42 million.
With ticket sales of $4.7 million, Touchstone Pictures' "Pretty Woman" came in fourth.
Orion Pictures' Robin Williams' comedy, "Cadillac Man," came in a sputtering fifth, with ticket sales of $2.8 million.
Touchstone's "Fire Birds," about Apache attack helicopters fighting the war on drugs, also sputtered to sixth place, with earnings of $2.6 million in its second week, after opening to $6.3 million its first weekend.
The Schwarzenegger film's entry also marks a victorious end to a decade-long Hollywood quest to bring Phillip K. Dick's short story, "I Can Remember It for You Wholesale"--about a man with a memory implant--to the screen. After several false starts--and stops--Carolco Pictures finally succeeded in teaming Schwarzenegger with "RoboCop" director Paul Verhoeven.
Set on both Earth and Mars in the year 2084, the science fiction epic reportedly required a budget of nearly $70 million.
Now it must face tough opposition in the coming weeks, warring against Eddie Murphy-Nick Nolte re-teaming in "Another 48 HRS." (opening Friday), Warren Beatty's long-awaited "Dick Tracy" (June 15), "Gremlins II: The New Batch" (also June 15) and Tom Cruise's race car movie, "Days of Thunder" (June 27).