"Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," starring Kevin Costner, continued its merry ride at the nation's box office over the weekend.
The Warner Bros. movie grossed almost double its nearest competition, collecting an additional $18.3 million and bringing its total ticket sales to more than $57 million in just 10 days of release.
Bunched closely together in second, third and fourth places, respectively, were "City Slickers" with Billy Crystal and the two new releases, "Dying Young" with Julia Roberts, and Walt Disney Pictures' highly promoted family-adventure film "The Rocketeer."
Weathering largely negative reviews, but riding on continuing high ratings in moviegoer exit polls, "Robin Hood" took a 29% drop from its first weekend at the box office. But a fall in box office receipts for a second weekend is considered normal in the industry.
Warner said the fall-off was better than two of last summer's biggest grossing pictures, "Dick Tracy," which dropped about 31% in its second week, and "Total Recall," which fell about 41%.
"We faced two big new films this weekend, but we had a fabulous hold at the box office," said Warner president of domestic distribution Barry Reardon. He predicted that "Robin Hood" will hit $66 million by Thursday and top $150 million by summer's end.
On Monday, the trade newspaper Daily Variety used the word sputters to describe the early estimates of the "Rocketeer" opening. But a source at Disney on Monday claimed the studio was "thrilled . . . since when is a $9-million-plus opening not considered good?"
The Disney spin on the opening was that an estimated 40% of the tickets to the PG-rated "Rocketeer" were at half-price for children, and therefore put a large dent in the figures.
"We've got to be pleased with the way it's performed, especially since it's not a sequel and has no big-time stars," said Dick Cook, president of Disney's Buena Vista Distribution unit.
Cook acknowledged that compared to Disney's own family movie, "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids," which opened with $14.2 million in its first weekend opposite the huge hit "Batman" two years ago, "Rocketeer" opened slower.
" 'Honey, I Shrunk the Kids,' is an easier idea to convey," Cook said. " 'The Rocketeer' will take a little longer for the identification to become a part of the American fabric."
Officials at 20th Century Fox, the distributor of "Dying Young," could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, "Backdraft" and "Thelma & Louise," two films released May 24, continued to show staying power. "Thelma" has generated $25.4 million to date.
Weekend Box Office
Weekend Gross/ Screens/ Weeks in Movie (Studio) Total (millions) Average Release 1. "Robin Hood" $18.3 2,369 2 (Warner Bros.) $57.5 $7,724 2. "City Slickers" $10.7 2,069 3 (Columbia) $47.3 $5,171 3. "Dying Young" $9.7 1,552 1 (Fox) $9.7 $6,267 4. "The Rocketeer" $9.6 1,616 1 (Disney) $9.6 $5,941 5. "Backdraft" $4.5 1,950 5 (Universal) $53.9 $2,315
SOURCE: Exhibitor Relations Co.