Originally created 08/12/97

`Conspiracy Theory' edges out `Air Force One'



LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Mel Gibson-Julia Roberts thriller "Conspiracy Theory" earned $19.3 million in its debut, narrowly edging Harrison Ford's "Air Force One" from the No. 1 spot at the weekend box office.

"Air Force One," an action-drama that stars Ford as a U.S. president kidnapped by terrorists, dropped to second place with $17.8 million after spending two weeks at No. 1, Exhibitor Relations Co. said Monday.

Given its star power, analysts had expected a stronger debut from "Conspiracy Theory."

The only other new film in the Top 10 was "Def Jam's How to Be a Player," starring Bill Bellamy as a smooth operator whose romantic escapades are disrupted by his sister's anthropology project. The film came in at No. 8 with $4.2 million.

The top 20 movies at North American theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by studio, gross, number of theater locations, receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by Exhibitor Relations Co. Inc.:

1. "Conspiracy Theory," Warner Bros., $19.3 million, 2,806 locations, $6,883 average, $19.3 million, one week.

2. "Air Force One," Columbia, $17.8 million, 2,981 locations, $5,980 average, $110.5 million, three weeks.

3. "Spawn," New Line, $8.9 million, 2,604 locations, $3,437 average, $37.7 million, two weeks.

4. "George of the Jungle," Disney, $6.3 million, 2,616 locations, $2,414 average, $75.9 million, four weeks.

5. "Men in Black," Columbia, $5.6 million, 2,653 locations, $2,131 average, $218 million, six weeks.

6. "Picture Perfect," Fox, $5 million, 1,727 locations, $2,898 average, $17.4 million, two weeks.

7. "Contact," Warner Bros., $4.5 million, 2,016 locations, $2,222 average, $83.3 million, five weeks.

8. "Def Jam's How to be a Player," Gramercy, $4.2 million, 751 locations, $5,601 average, $5.7 million, one week.

9. "Air Bud," Disney, $3.4 million, 1,729 locations, $2,000 average, $11.3 million, two weeks.

10. "Nothing to Lose," Disney, $2.8 million, 1,470 locations, $1,936 average, $37.3 million, four weeks.

11. "My Best Friend's Wedding," Tristar, $2.2 million, 1,462 locations, $1,510 average, $113 million, eight weeks.

12. "Face/Off," Paramount, $2.1 million, 1,542 locations, $1,370 average, $105.6 million, seven weeks.

13. "Good Burger," Paramount, $1.9 million, 1,893 locations, $1,005 average, $18 million, three weeks.

14. "The Lost World: Jurassic Park," Universal, $1 million, 830 locations, 1,270 average, $225 million, 12 weeks.

15. "Free Willy III: The Rescue," Warner, $992,651, 1,258 locations, $789 average, $992,651, one week.

16. "Hercules," Disney, $989,509, 1,057 locations, $936 average, $88.7 million, eight weeks.

17. "187," Warner Bros., $829,515, 1,102 locations, $753 average, $4.7 million, two weeks.

18. "Mrs. Brown," Miramax, $603,030, 95 locations, $6,348 average, $1.8 million, three weeks.

19. "Shall We Dance," Miramax, $531,575, 105 locations, $5,063 average, $2.7 million, five weeks.

20. "Out to Sea," Fox, $445,467, 592 locations, $752 average, $25.9 million, six weeks.



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