'Death Becomes Her' becomes the weekend's top movie


LOS ANGELES -- Life after death landed in Hollywood with differing results this weekend. "Death Becomes Her," the special effects-laden black comedy starring Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis, debuted at No. 1 on the box-office chart, grossing $12.1 million. With a per-screen average of $8,595, it was the year's best opening for a Universal Pictures release.

On the other hand, the spoof "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" arrived in theaters with a stake through its heart. The film, which was rushed through production and garnered predominantly negative reviews despite an extensive ad campaign, drew a disappointing $4.5 million in its opening weekend and landed in fifth place.

"Bebe's Kids," an African-American animated adventure, fared respectably in a limited release; it earned $3 million, good enough for seventh place.

Among holdovers, "Honey, I Blew Up the Kid" continued its solid if unspectacular run, coming in second with $6.5 million. It has earned $38 million in three weeks.

In fourth place, "A League of Their Own" continues performing in a league of its own: Its $5.4 million take over the weekend gives it a cumulative gross of $75.75 million, on a pace to earn $100 million or better. Sixth-place "Sister Act" continued working its box-office miracle, grossing $3.9 million for total receipts of $111.6 million.

For other returning films, it was nosediving business as usual. "Mo' Money," which debuted at No. 1 last week, saw its earnings plummet by half in its second weekend. It took in $6.1 million and came in third.

"Mo' Money" was just the latest of the majority of this summer's films that have opened respectably but tailed off quickly, indicating negative audience word-of-mouth.

Others include "Boomerang," which flung itself into eighth place with $2.5 million. "Unlawful Entry" forced itself into ninth position with $2.4. million. "Universal Soldier" dropped to 10th place with $2 million.

And in its seventh week of release, "Batman Returns" swooped quietly out of the top 10 with $1.7 million. "Batman" spent 14 weeks in the top 10 before dropping out.

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