Originally created 12/30/98

Patch Adams' leads record-breaking holiday box office surge



LOS ANGELES -- Robin Williams' poorly reviewed movie about a doctor who cures with humor got the last laugh on critics by beating "Stepmom" and topping the Christmas holiday box office.

"Patch Adams" earned $25.3 million in ticket sales, trouncing the Christmas weekend record of $17.4 million set by "Michael" in 1996, figures showed Monday.

It was the perfect elixir for Universal, suffering a dry spell punctuated by the dismal receipts for "Babe: Pig in the City" and "Meet Joe Black" as well as the ouster of several top studio executives.

"It's happy here right now. It always isn't great, but it is today," said Nikki Rocco, Universal's president of feature distribution.

Three other new films also had more than $10 million each in ticket sales -- "Stepmom" with $19.1 million for second place and "The Faculty" with $11.6 million for fifth place, followed by "Mighty Joe Young" with $10.6 million.

Overall, the top 12 films grossed $132 million for the weekend -- compared with $71.3 million last week -- despite fears that business would drop because Christmas fell on a Friday, a traditionally big movie night. The total was up nearly 2 percent from last year.

The $10.1 million taken in by "A Bug's Life" placed it seventh and represented a 1 percent jump in business, even though it was taken off more than 300 screens.

Top 10 movies

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

1. "Patch Adams," Universal, $25.3 million, 2,712 locations, $9,815 average, $25.3 million, one week.

2. "Stepmom," Sony, $19.1 million, 2,358 locations, $8,118 average, $19.1 million, one week.

3. "You've Got Mail," Warner Bros., $18.1 million, 2,756 locations, $6,588 average, $47.4 million, two weeks.

4. "The Prince of Egypt," DreamWorks, $15.1 million, 3,218 locations, $4,698 average, $40.1 million, two weeks.

5. "The Faculty," Miramax, $11.6 million, 2,365 locations, $4,919 average, $11.6 million, one week.

6. "Mighty Joe Young," Disney, $10.6 million, 2,502 locations, $4,287 average, $10.6 million, one week.

7. "A Bug's Life," Disney, $10.1 million, 2,458 locations, $4,123 average, $114.5 million, six weeks.

8. "Star Trek: Insurrection," Paramount, $7.3 million, 2,877 locations, $2,728 average, $47.7 million, three weeks.

9. "Enemy of the State," Disney, $5.3 million, 1,505 locations, $3,519 average, $87.5 million, six weeks.

10. "Jack Frost," Warner Bros., $3.9 million, 2,142 locations, $1,822 average, $22.5 million, three weeks.

11. "The Rugrats Movie," Paramount, $2.7 million, 2,225 locations, $1,198 average, $82 million, six weeks.

12. "Shakespeare in Love," Miramax, $2.6 million, 295 locations, $8,847 average, $3.6 million, three weeks.

13. "The Waterboy," Disney, $2.3 million, 1,281 locations, $1,821 average, $145.6 million, eight weeks.

14. "Waking Ned Devine," Fox Searchlight, $1.7 million, 259 locations, $6,425 average, $3.9 million, six weeks.

15. "Down in the Delta," Miramax, $1.6 million, 416 locations, $3,934 average, $1.6 million, one week.

16. "Rush Hour," New Line, $1.6 million, 682 locations, $1,530 average, $134.8 million, 15 weeks.

17. "Life is Beautiful," Miramax, $988,234, 224 locations, $4,412 average, $9.4 million, 10 weeks.

18. "Elizabeth," Gramercy, $854,052, 409 locations, $2,088 average, $14.6 million, eight weeks.

19. "Urban Legend," Sony, $531,732, 541 locations, $983 average, $37.1 million, 14 weeks.

20. "Psycho," Universal, $526,985, 680 locations, $775 average, $20 million, four weeks.