Because all the heavy-hitting Oscar contenders open in December, January offers a mixed bag of releases, and this long weekend saw a mixed bag of results. MTV Films looks to finally have a success with “Varsity Blues,” which opened in first with an estimated $17.6 million, hopefully erasing the memory of “Joe’s Apartment” and “Dead Man on Campus.”
But the rest of the debuts trailed the Christmas holdovers “A Civil Action” ($11.8 million), “Patch Adams” ($11.7 million), and “The Thin Red Line,” which expanded wide with an impressive $11.4 million. Val Kilmer and Mira Sorvino’s “At First Sight” took fifth with a middling $8.7 million, while the sci-fi thriller “Virus” landed in ninth with $5.9 million. Meanwhile, DreamWorks, which after a series of underperformers finally succeeded last year with “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Prince of Egypt,” plunged back to the basement with “In Dreams” ($4.6 million for twelfth place). Perhaps it’s not only star Annette Bening who’s having bad dreams.