'Jurassic Park' sets industry record in first weekend

June 14, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD — Steven Spielberg went to the movies Friday night to see his new horror movie "Jurassic Park." So did an estimated 9.6 million people who paid a record-devouring $48.5 million over the weekend to view the heavily promoted feature film that has dTC unleashed a wave of dinosaur-mania across the United States.

The box-office gross is projected to be the highest for any movie in film history for a non-holiday weekend.

Saturday's $18 million alone was the biggest a movie has ever grossed on a single day.

Mr. Spielberg, who slipped into a late evening showing of the film at the Avco Theater in Los Angeles, saw the film for the first time with an audience. He only recently returned from the Krakow, Poland, location of his next film "Schindler's List."

The producer-director's mood was described as "ebullient" by Tom Pollock, the chairman of MCA Inc.'s motion picture group, which includes Universal Pictures, the distributor of "Jurassic Park."

"Steven was stunned by how great the reaction was," Mr. Pollock said yesterday.

Mr. Pollock called the opening "great for the industry" and predicted the success will invigorate moviegoing for other summer films.

It was Universal's first potential blockbuster hit film in several years.

When final totals are released today, "Jurassic Park" is expected to surpass last summer's "Batman Returns," which had held the opening-weekend record with $47.7 million.

Both films opened on comparable, non-holiday June weekends.

The totals for both also include the gross for preview showings on Thursday night.

But with or without the Thursday gross, both films established new box-office standards.

The only other film to challenge the "Jurassic Park" total would be 1991's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," which grossed $52.3 million, but that was generated during a five-day July 4th holiday weekend.

"Jurassic Park" is based on the novel of the same title by Michael Crichton about a fictional amusement park where dinosaurs have been scientifically re-created. The movie carries a PG-13 rating -- the film industry's suggestion that parents are strongly cautioned that some of the contents may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Universal said yesterday its own surveys indicate that only 2 percent of the audience was under age 8, while 12 percent of the audience was ages 9 to 14. The over-15 audience accounted for 86 percent of all tickets sold, the studio said.

Still, there was clearly a sprinkling of youngsters in the audiences, apparently inspired by the current dinosaur interest.

The opening success of "Jurassic" came as no surprise to the film industry, which for months has steered clear of scheduling any other film to open in national release on the same weekend.

Because of Mr. Spielberg's reputation for producing blockbuster hits, the popularity of the Crichton book and a massive marketing approach, the $60 million production was deemed "the summer film to beat."

The summer's other anticipated big money maker is "Last Action Hero," starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, from Columbia Pictures. It opens Friday.

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