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‘Waiting To Exhale’ Tops Week

A drama about four black women struggling with the men in their lives was the surprise winner in the Christmas weekend box-office stakes.

“Waiting to Exhale,” directed by Forest Whitaker and featuring Whitney Houston and Angela Bassett, earned $14.1 million to finish ahead of such proven money-winners as “Toy Story” and “Jumanji.”

According to figures compiled by Exhibitor Relations Co., “Toy Story” snared $12.1 million to push its five-week total past $115 million. In its second week, No. 3 “Jumanji” earned $10.6 million.

Other than “Waiting to Exhale,” the week’s debuts fared rather poorly. Oliver Stone’s “Nixon,” which earned $2.2 million, played only in limited release and didn’t even crack the top 10.

Those debut films that did finish the top money-making list include Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “Sudden Death” (No. 8, $4.8 million), “Tom and Huck” (No. 9, $3.2 million) and “Dracula: Dead and Loving It” (No. 10, $2.7 million).

The poor performance of Renny Harlin’s “Cutthroat Island,” with Geena Davis and Matthew Modine, vied with Kevin Costner’s “Waterworld” for failure of the year. It cost nearly $100 million to make.

“Nixon,” despite sterling critical reactions, suffered from its length (175 minutes) and from playing at only 514 locations.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo