Hollywood shares rise from the rubble: Larry Black reports on a record run at the box office inspired by The Flintstones

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The Independent Online
SHARES of most Hollywood studios and home-video distributors rose yesterday on word of a record- breaking holiday weekend at the box office, led by Universal Pictures' live-action movie based on The Flintstones cartoon series.

The top 10 films grossed about dollars 94m ( pounds 63m) during the four-day holiday period, breaking the record set in May 1992 by the likes of Lethal Weapon 3 and Alien 3.

The Flintstones also set a record for the strongest-ever movie opening, taking in dollars 34.5m despite initial fears that the film's appeal would be limited to young children. But one-third of the adult audience was not accompanied by children, lured instead by nostalgia for the pre-historic gadgets of the original cartoons. The film cost about dollars 45m to make.

Its take at the box-office narrowly edged out Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which sold dollars 37m worth of tickets on its opening weekend five years ago.

Universal is owned by the Japanese electronics giant Matsushita, which is not traded on US exchanges. But shares rose in Time Warner and Disney - whose Warner Brothers and Touchstone Pictures were responsible for some of the other hits - as did those of Blockbuster Entertainment, America's largest video-rental chain.

The record-setting weekend caught many Wall Street analysts by surprise. Hollywood's earnings have been depressed since last summer's Jurassic Park, and pessimistic analysts have lowered their investment ratings for most of the American-owned studios in recent weeks.

(Photograph omitted)