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Gump' bumps 'True Lies' at box office

By DAVE McNARY UPI Business Writer

HOLLYWOOD, July 25 -- The third weekend of 'Forrest Gump' edged out the second weekend of 'True Lies' to top a robust national box office with $21.9 million at 2,095 theaters for the Friday-Sunday period. 'Gump' has now taken in $109.1 million in its first 19 days for Paramount and will probably double that amount. The comeedy-drama, starring Tom Hanks, crossed over the $100 million mark on Saturday, making it the sixth-fastest film to hit that milestone, trailing only 'Jurrasic Park (nine days), 'Batman' (10), 'Batman Returns' (11), 'The Lion King' (13) and 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' (16). It was the second weekend in a row in which overall grosses came in around the $100 million mark and indicated the summer box office may top last year's $2.1 billion record. Two more potential comedy hits -- TriStar's 'It Could Happen to You' and New Line's 'The Mask' -- will open Friday but 'Gump' will probably lead again. 20th Century Fox's 'True Lies,' which narrowly topped 'Gump' in its first weekend, came in second with $20.7 million at 2,561 screens and has now gone past $61 million in its first 10 days. It lost about a third of its debut audience and will probably wind up with around $140 million. Already, one trend that has emerged this summer is the moviegoing public's never-satiated appetite for action films. 'Lies,' starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a CIA agent, has already taken in $10 million more than his flop last summer, Columbia's 'Last Action Hero' and Fox has scored twice with action hits as 'Speed' crossed over the $100 million mark Sunday.

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Underscoring the strength of the box office, two other movies -- Warner Bros.'s opening of 'The Client,' and Disney's sixth weekend of 'The Lion King' -- also topped $14 million each. The Client,' starring Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones, was a strong third with $17.2 million at 2,050 screens. The courtroom thriller, the third John Grisham novel to go to the big screen in a year's time following 'The Firm' and 'The Pelican Brief,' grossed $5.8 million on Wednesday and Thursday and could make $100 million. 'The Lion King' continued to roar in fourth as children show up for their second and third viewings, pushing it to $14 million at 2,611 theaters, leaving the animated film less than $360,000 short of the $200 million mark after 40 days. 'Lion King' will probably go all the way to $300 million, which would make it the fourth highest grosser of all time, trailing only 'E. T. -- The Extraterrestrial,' 'Jurrasic Park' and 'Star Wars.' Disney's second weekend of 'Angels in the Outfield' held up respectably in fifth with $6.9 million at 1,921 screens, followed by Fox's seventh weekend of 'Speed' with $3.9 million at 1,679 screens to edge past $100 million after 45 days. Moviegoers were not backing every film and the weekend's two other debuts flopped, as Paramount's 'Lassie' came in seventh with $3.2 million at 1,785 screens followed by Columbia's 'North' with $3 million at 1,481 theaters. Both were blasted by critics and should vanish soon. Rounding out the Top 10 was Disney's fourth weekend of 'I Love Trouble' with $1.8 million at 1,388 screens, followed by Universal's fourth weekend of 'The Shadow' with $1.3 million at 1,340 screens. MGM's fourth weekend of 'Blown Away' was 11th with $1.2 million at 1,248 theaters and gave it $26 million after 24 days. Even though that is far short of expectations, it was still the best performance by long- suffering MGM since 1991's 'Thelma and Louise.' Also edging past $1 million were Columbia's sixth weekend of 'Wolf,' now past $61 million, and Universal's ninth weekend of 'The Fintstones, ' which has topped $121 million. Two dramas will open Friday with limited propsects -- Warner's 'Black Beauty' and Gramercy's 'Foreign Student.' Weekend gross, number of theaters, total gross, weeks in release: 1. 'Forrest Gump,' $21.9 million, 2,095, $109.1 million, 3 weeks. 2. 'True Lies,' $20.7 million, 2,561, $61.5 million, 2 weeks. 3. 'The Client,' $17.2 million, 2,062, $23 million, 1 week. 4. 'The Lion King,' $14 million, 2,611, $199.7 million, 6 weeks. 5. 'Angels in the Outfield,' $6.9 million, 1,921, $21.8 million, 2 weeks. 6. 'Speed,' $3.9 million, 1,679, $100 million, 7 weeks. 7. 'Lassie,' $3.2 million, 1,785, 1 week. 8. 'North,' $3 million, 1,481, 1 week. 9. 'I Love Trouble,' $1.8 million, 1,388, $26.4 million, 4 weeks. 10. 'The Shadow,' $1.3 million, 1,341, $27.2 million, 4 weeks. Top per-screen averages: 1. 'Forrest Gump, $10,468. 2. 'The Client,' $8,370. 3. 'True Lies,' $8,081. 4. 'The Lion King,' $5,364. 5. 'Angels in the Outfield,' $3,600.

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