'Batman Returns' took in half the money spent on movies last weekend


LOS ANGELES -- So who's left to see it next weekend?

"Batman Returns," unsurprisingly, swooped into theaters and soared to a box-office record -- $47.7 million, including $2 million for Thursday night sneak previews, for a whopping $18,049 per-screen average. That was half of all the money spent by moviegoers over the weekend.

The reception at Warner Bros., which distributed the film, was understandably jubilant. "I was basically one of the more optimistic people around here, and I was looking at $44 million," said Barry Reardon, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros., who estimated that between 7 million and 8 million people saw the film over the weekend.

Mr. Reardon said that whether "Batman Returns" could best the original's $251 million domestic gross was still "a tough call. We'll have a better idea after next weekend." Mr. Reardon said that after such astronomical numbers, the studio is bracing itself for a


drop," noting that the first film's take dropped 26 percent in its RTC second weekend.

Most of the records that "Batman Returns" broke belonged to its 1989 predecessor, which made $42.7 million in its opening weekend and late Thursday screening. "Batman Returns'" $16 million Saturday was the highest one-day gross in history, topping the original's $14.6 million opening Saturday. "Batman Returns" also set records for best Friday ($14.5 million) and Sunday ($14 million estimated) grosses, as well.

There were other movies in release over the weekend, and the "Batman" sellouts no doubt helped bolster their receipts, as shut-out moviegoers went with second choices.

"Sister Act" remained strong in second place, taking in $7.75 million for a cumulative gross of $55.3 million. "Patriot Games" dropped to third with $7.7 million. The Harrison Ford spy slugfest has earned $49.1 million in three weeks.

"Housesitter" came in fourth with $7 million. "Lethal Weapon 3," whose $33.2 million opening a month ago had previously been 1992's best, earned $4.7 million for fifth, with a total take of $121.9 million. Currently, it is the highest-grossing film of the year. Both "Batman Returns" and "Lethal Weapon 3" are Warner Bros. releases.

"Far and Away" finished sixth with $3 million. "Encino Man" followed with $1.6 million. "Alien3" plummeted to eighth with $1.5 million, followed by "Class Act," which dropped to ninth place with $1.2 million.

"Batman Returns" is expected to reign next weekend as well, with only the crazy-cop thriller "Unlawful Entry" and Disney's re-release of "Pinocchio" slated to open.

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