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December 20, 1999
Shyamalan's Mouse Roars At Box-Office
Arthur J Pais
For the second time this year, a film Manoj Night Shyamalan is associated with opened at the top box-office position.
Stuart Little, a story of a talking mouse loosely co-scripted by Shyamalan and helmed by Rob Minkoff, who co-directed The Lion King, made about $ 15.5 million this weekend.
The Sixth Sense, which Shyamalan directed from his script, grossed about $ 39 million in its opening week early this year.
Stuart Little is the third Shyamalan script that focuses on children. Wide Awake, the second film he directed, told the story of a young boy who tries to contact his dead grandfather. The movie, which cost about $ 5 million, was a flop but Sixth Sense, about a child who sees dead people, has turned out to be one of the biggest hits of all time. As it ends its North American run, the $ 40 million movie has grossed about $ 276 million.
Loosely adopted from an E B White classic about an orphaned mouse adopted by a human family, Stuart Little, stars Geena Davis Jonathan (Jerry Maguire), and the voice of Michael J Fox as the title character.
Columbia Pictures let the rodent run loose in 2,878 theaters and averaged a solid $ 5,351 per house.
The sharp-dressed mouse in the film costing $ 110 million, beat out two other high profile releases starring Robin Williams and Jodie Foster.
Bicentennial Man, the new family film from the Mrs Doubtfire duo of director Chris Columbus and Williams opened with a disappointing $ 8.3 million.
Many moviegoers preferred a talking mouse to an android that wants to be human.
Foster's lavish family drama, Anna and the King, suffered a worse fate: It made just about $ 5.1 million.
Given its big budget, Stuart Little has to earn at least $ 225 million to break even. Columbia Pictures believes the film will have a strong performance during the Christmas-New Year season and will emerge as a substantial hit. It could earn far more abroad, as most American films do.
Shyamalan, 29, had written Stuart Little's script three years ago. For some time there were plans to let him direct the film but given the high computer imaging involved in the production, Columbia opted to have a veteran direct the film.
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