'Gump' and 'King' Take Lion's Share of Tickets

TIMES STAFF WRITER

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.

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