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Kids Fuel ‘Phantom Menace’ Success

May 21, 1999

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The ``Star Wars″ prequel was poised to shatter its own single-day triumph and vanquish weekend box office records as theaters braced Friday for a torrent of children.

``Show me the kids!″ 20th Century Fox distribution chief Tom Sherak said Friday, refusing to predict how much the George Lucas film would rake in by Sunday’s final showings.

Youngsters could be the key to the success of ``Star Wars: Episode 1 _ The Phantom Menace.″

Some movie critics complained that the film’s 8-year-old central character and sidekick Jar Jar Binks were annoying and would appeal only to children. If so, kids could send the movie over the top.

Movie analysts expect the film to gross $120 million to $140 million by the end of its five-day opening frame.

The movie made a record $28.5 million on its Wednesday debut. On Thursday the box office tally was $13.2 million (a second-day drop-off was not unexpected by the industry), bringing the two-day tally to $41.8 million.

The kid factor should push Saturday’s grosses beyond Wednesday, setting a new one-day record, according to industry estimates. The Wednesday take beat the $26.1 million earned in 1997 by previous title holder ``Lost World: Jurassic Park.″

Box office comparisons are not adjusted for inflation.

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