"Robin Hood" prince of summer flicks with $18.3 million weekend


LOS ANGELES -- "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" continues to slay all rivals as the most popular movie of the summer.

The Kevin Costner action-adventure epic remained the hottest ticket at the nation's theaters for the second straight weekend. It made $18.3 million Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- a quite manageable, 30 percent drop from the opening weekend's $25 million gross.

With an outstanding per-screen average of $7,720, "Robin Hood" is likely to hold on to the top spot at least until the July 3 opening of "Terminator 2."

"We're extremely pleased with the way the picture is playing," said Barry Reardon, president of domestic theatrical distribution for Warner Bros. "Obviously, the public likes it a lot better than the critics did."

Two highly publicized movies to open last weekend, "Dying Young" and "The Rocketeer," could place no better than third and fourth, respectively, behind "Robin Hood" and "City Slickers" (which made $10.7 million).

"Dying Young," the Julia Roberts tearfest, received surprisingly respectable reviews but performed less than spectacularly at the box office. It made $9.7 million while playing on 1,552 screens (800 fewer than "Robin Hood" and 500 fewer than "City Slickers"). Its per-screen average was $6,267.

"The Rocketeer," the Disney action film targeted at a younger crowd, made $9.6 million. Playing on just a few more screens than "Dying Young," it had a per-screen average of $5,941.

Placing fifth and sixth, respectively, were "Backdraft," which made $4.5 million, and "Jungle Fever," which grossed $4 million.

"Jungle Fever" grossed about $1 million less than it did last weekend, even through it was playing on 71 more screens. On the other hand, it is still playing on far fewer screens than any other film in the top 10 -- 844 -- and its $4,830 per-screen average is quite acceptable.

Rounding out the top 10 are "What About Bob?" "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead," "Soapdish" and "Thelma & Louise." The latter film went up a bit over last weekend, perhaps due to its Time magazine cover story; it made $2.6 million and placed 10th.

Only one major movie opens Friday: the comedy "The Naked Gun 2 1/2 ."

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