Packed with an all-star cast from Brad Pitt to Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro, the latest revenge movie, "Sleepers," triumphed at the weekend box office with an estimated $12.6-million first-place opening, despite mixed reviews.
Competitors agreed that it was probably Pitt who lured audiences to the graphic Warner Bros. picture, bumping Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas' "The Ghost and the Darkness" to second place with $7.6 million in its second week (a $20.3-million cumulative total), according to industry estimates.
"Ghost" led another revenge film and fellow Paramount release, "The First Wives Club," which was raking in about $7.1 million over the weekend to take third. "First Wives," a comedic turn on the revenge theme, has proved one of the biggest hits of the early fall season, already grossing about $82.4 million in its five-week run.
In fourth was New Line Cinema's action thriller "The Long Kiss Goodnight" with Geena Davis. It grossed about $7 million with a two-week total of $19.1 million.
Tom Hanks' "That Thing You Do!" was in fifth with $4.1 million and an accumulated three-week estimate of $18.1 million, despite a relatively weak opening. Disney's "D3: The Mighty Ducks" was sixth with $3.8 million and an estimated three-week total of $16.3 million. "The Chamber," one of the weaker performers of a John Grisham bestseller film adaptation, was taking seventh place with $3.3 million and a two-week estimate of $10.6 million for Universal Pictures.
Spike Lee's "Get on the Bus," a tribute to last year's Million Man March from Columbia Pictures, and Steven Seagal's "The Glimmer Man" from Warner Bros. were vying for eighth place with about $2.3 million each. Columbia's "Fly Away Home" was rounding out the Top 10 with $1.4 million for the weekend and a total of $19.8 million in six weeks.
Another film that debuted to strong results despite mixed reviews, Sony's "To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday" opened in only five theaters, grossing about $80,000. Only one print of the film played in each of five cities: Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Toronto, with an average theater gross of about $16,000--one of the weekend's stronger performers.
Two other smaller pictures that opened over the weekend were Miramax's "Swingers," which took in a strong $72,000 on eight screens, and Gramercy's "Jude," which fell short with only $31,290 on six screens. "Swingers' " release will widen to 20 theaters on Friday.
Warners' critically acclaimed "Michael Collins" garnered about $191,000 in 10 theaters from Friday to Sunday and will widen to 750 theaters on Friday. The drama of Ireland's freedom fighter has made about $467,170 in two weeks.
The blockbuster "Independence Day" chalked up another $1.3 million over the weekend, bringing its 16-week run to $299.2 million. It will probably hit the $300-million mark this week.
Final, official weekend totals will be released today.