Weekend Box office {1998-03-13 to 15th}

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DiCaprio films tie for No. 1 at box office 'Titanic' passes 'Star Wars' to break record

March 15, 1998

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The box office joust between Leonardo DiCaprio the king and DiCaprio the pauper yielded no immediate winner Sunday as "The Man in the Iron Mask" and "Titanic" tied for No. 1. "Titanic" passed "Star Wars" to become the top domestic money-earner of all time but failed to trounce the new release, with both earning $17.5 million for the weekend, according to preliminary results by Exhibitor Relations Co., Inc. Final figures were to be released Monday. Many had predicted that the debut of the swashbuckler saga finally would end the 12-week domination of "Titanic." "I think it's absolutely incredible that 'Titanic' continues to show this strength," said Art Rockwell, an entertainment analyst with Yeager Capital Markets. "I think the people at MGM have to be a little disappointed ('The Man in the Iron Mask') didn't oust it." "Titanic," starring DiCaprio as an impoverished but carefree artist, was expected to have grossed at least $467 million at the North American box office, pushing it past the $461 million earned by "Star Wars" in 1977 and its re-release last year. Larry Gleason, president of worldwide distribution for MGM, said he was pleased with the success of "The Man in the Iron Mask," a Three Musketeers drama starring DiCaprio in dual roles as an evil king and his imprisoned brother. Gleason said he was eager to see the final box office results. "It's like a horse race," Gleason said. "We both hit the line at the same time and we've got to wait for the photo to be developed." Should "Titanic" retain the top domestic spot for a 13th week, it would match the record shared by 1984's "Beverly Hills Cop" and 1982's "Tootsie." "The Man in the Iron Mask" was expected to be popular among males for its swordplay and heroics, but Gleason said the audience was enlarged by DiCaprio's teen-idol popularity with women. "We're getting like 55 percent of our audience is females. So Leo's stuff really works great on that," Gleason said. "It was always intended to make the king young to appeal to a younger audience. Leonardo has made that exceed our expectations." "U.S. Marshals" followed the dueling films with projected sales of $11.5 million in its second weekend. "Good Will Hunting" was next with $4.8 million. "The Wedding Singer" came in at No. 5 with $4.6 million and "The Big Lebowski" placed sixth with $3.5 million. "Hush" and "Twilight" tied with $3.3 million sales in their second week and "As Good as It Gets" followed with $3.1 million. "The Borrowers" and "Dark City" rounded out the list with $1.6 million each. The only other new release was "Chairman of the Board" which appeared on 196 screens for total sales of $150,000. Here are estimated grosses for the top 10 movies at North American theaters for Friday through Sunday:

1."The Man in the Iron Mask," $17.5 million. 1."Titanic," $17.5 million. 3."U.S. Marshals," $11.5 million. 4."Good Will Hunting," $4.8 million. 5."The Wedding Singer," $4.6 million. 6."The Big Lebowski," $3.5 million. 7."Hush," $3.3 million. 7."Twilight," $3.3 million. 9."As Good as It Gets," $3.1 million. 10."The Borrowers," $1.6 million. 10."Dark City," $1.6 million.

-- Dan Draghici (ddraghic@sprint.ca), March 15, 1998

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