HOLLYWOOD -- Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather Part III" opened Tuesday with a Christmas Day record.
The long-awaited sequel had ticket sales of approximately $6.3 million on 1,800 screens, for a per-screen-average of $3,461.
At press time, based on the film's single-day performance, it tied for third place in the top 10.
Ticket sales of $6.3 million are a high figure for a day that is not traditionally a big movie-going day, but not as high as some industry sources were expecting when weighed against the level of anticipation and the enormous amount of publicity that accompanied the film's release.
Moreover, some exhibitor sources reported that the film played largely to adults and that while it was standing room only in the big cities, its performance was weak in smaller cities. There also were concerns about whether the Christmas Day crowd will widen to include teen-age audiences. As one exhibitor put it, "The film's real test will come this weekend."
Paramount Pictures was quick to rebuff any dimming of what the studio sees as a bright Christmas Day performance.
"We are ecstatic! This movie has exceeded our expectations," said Barry London, Paramount's motion picture group president in charge of distribution.
Though news about "Godfather III" dominated the reports of movie-going over the five-day holiday period -- Friday through Tuesday -- it was "Home Alone" that topped the charts.
The 20th Century-Fox comedy about an 8 year old who must fend for himself over the holidays had ticket sales of about $15.4 million on 2,108 screens -- for a per-screen average of $7,305. The season's PG-rated runaway sleeper has grossed more than $115 million.
In the No. 2 spot, with receipts of about $11.1 million, was Universal Pictures' "Kindergarten Cop," starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a tough cop who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher. The PG-13-rated film, which drew critical complaints because of its mix of violence and comedy, played on about 1,830 screens, where it had a per-screen average of $6,058 -- the highest of the weekend's new releases.