Grisham's latest: Runaway Jury not runaway hit

The latest book-into-film from Covesville superstar John Grisham garnered a "somewhat disappointing" third place in its opening weekend, according to a leading industry watcher.

While the October 17-19 opening weekend took in $12.1 to make The Runaway Jury the #3 film in America last weekend, the per screen average of was a "so-so" $4,298, according to The Box Office Guru, an online industry source.

The presence of such stars as Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack, and Rachel Weisz was supposed to deliver more, says the Guru.

"For many films, a per screen average in the $4,000 range would be acceptable," says the Guru, "but with the stars and marketing behind Runaway Jury, this opening has to be seen as under-performing." The Hollywood Reporter, another industry journal, called Jury's opening numbers "on the low end of expectations."

An assistant to Grisham said the author, busy with his next novel, was unavailable for comment.

As with most of his films that hit the big screen, Grisham's role was confined to writing the novel on which it was based. However, some critics have had a field day even with that. For instance, Newsday denounced the story as "more irresistibly preposterous courtroom fireworks from the factory of John Grisham."

Runaway Jury played to an older audience, with 82 percent of viewers age 25 and older, said Bruce Snyder, head of distribution for 20th Century Fox, which released the movie.

While the opening-weekend gross came in on the low side of the studio's projections, Snyder said movies aimed at older audiences often stick around longer at the box office.

"Adults don't necessarily run out to see a movie the first weekend,'' Snyder said. "We hope it'll be around for a good long time.''

If the movie strikes out, Grisham surely has an excuse. Twentieth Century Fox credits no fewer than four writers– none named Grisham– with the screenplay.

Grisham has two books rockin' the P
ublishers Weekly  charts: The Bleachers  at #4 in fiction, and The Runaway Jury at #7 in paperbacks.