It was another busy summer weekend at the movies, especially at theaters showing Paramount Pictures' "Forrest Gump" or Walt Disney Pictures' "The Lion King." Those two films accounted for about 50% of tickets sold on the weekend.
On Sunday, Barry London, Paramount president of worldwide distribution, estimated the Friday-through-Sunday gross for "Forrest Gump," which stars Tom Hanks, would be $24 million from 1,595 theaters, making it the weekend leader in the competitive summer movie field. Added to grosses for "Gump" preview showings on Wednesday and Thursday, the cumulative box-office total climbs to an impressive $32 million in its first five days.
Meanwhile, "Lion King" apparently slipped from first place to No. 2 in its fourth weekend of release. Disney reported a probable weekend gross of $23 million on 2,565 screens and a total gross to date of $135 million. A large portion of that total is made up of receipts from lower-cost children's tickets.
Final weekend box-office figures will be released today.
The results for "Gump" were achieved despite its 2-hour and 20-minute running time, which reduces the number of times the film can be shown daily.
"It's certainly off to a very impressive start," said John Krier, president of the box-office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations Co. Krier compared the film's opening grosses to last summer's second-highest-grossing film, "The Fugitive," which collected $23.7 million its first weekend. This summer, only "The Flintstones" and "The Lion King" have had higher opening weekend grosses.
"Gump," directed by Robert E. Zemeckis, is a romantic fable that focuses on the ideas and emotions of a simpleton, played by Hanks.
The "other half" of the weekend's business included two action films: Third-ranked "Speed" took in $7.8 million in its fifth week and $85 million to date, and fourth-ranked "Blown Away," with a weekend gross of $5.8 million and an overall gross after two weekends of $19 million. "The Shadow" was fifth, with a weekend gross of $5.5 million; "I Love Trouble" took in $5.2 million and has $17.4 million in the bank. Other weekend estimates: "Wolf," $4.4 million and $55 million to date; "Baby's Day Out, " $2.8 million and $8.4 million total; "Wyatt Earp," $2.7 million and $19 million overall; and "The Flintstones," $2.7 million for the weekend and a $116.7 million total.