Last year may have been a slight disappointment at the box office after the record-setting pace of 1989, but in one respect it set a new record in Hollywood. For the first time, according to figures compiled by Daily Variety, nine movies made more than $100 million during a 12-month period. The previous record was the seven movies that hit nine figures during 1989; prior to that, no more than five films had ever earned that much during one year.

Four sleepers were the year's biggest moneymakers: "Ghost" (the only 1990 film to top the $200 million mark), "Pretty Woman," "Home Alone" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." Following on their heels were "The Hunt for Red October," "Total Recall," "Die Hard 2" and "Dick Tracy," plus "Driving Miss Daisy," which was released in late 1989 but earned more than $100 million in 1990.

But despite the fact that more films than ever topped $100 million, the 10 top-grossing movies of 1990 actually made less than 1989's Top 10. That's because "Batman" grossed more than $250 million, almost $50 million more than "Ghost." By the way, a key reason why more movies topped $100 million in 1990 is that ticket prices rose by about 6 percent ...

Speaking of big grosses, "Home Alone" last weekend became the first movie since 1984's "Ghostbusters" to top the box office charts for seven weeks in a row. In doing so, the comedy knocked off a couple of stiff competitors: not only "The Godfather Part III," which had a spectacular Christmas Day opening and a formidable first week, but also "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," which had been the year's third biggest moneymaker until "Home Alone" made about $25 million over the five-day New Year's weekend and pushed the turtles to a distant fourth. Another week or two like that, and "Pretty Woman" may relinquish its hold on second place among the movies released last year ... But while "Home Alone" is a certified blockbuster, "Godfather III" a box-office powerhouse and "Kindergarten Cop" a strong contender, Brian De Palma's much-panned version of Tom Wolfe's "The Bonfire of the Vanities" looks to be an outright flop.

"Godfather III" may not have gotten quite as much critical acclaim as its predecessors, but it's been widely praised as a thoughtful, respectable conclusion to Francis Ford Coppola's saga. But is it really the conclusion? Paramount Pictures may have other ideas. In a diary kept during the making of the movie and reprinted in the December issue of Vogue, Coppola's wife, Eleanor, reports that Paramount executives requested that the director shoot an additional scene after they viewed a rough cut of the movie in July. Paramount, she writes, "wanted a new scene clearly showing that Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) turns over the family to Vincent (Andy Garcia), so there would be a setup for another movie" ... In the meantime, a couple more movies about gangsters are in production: "Bugsy," with Warren Beatty starring as Bugsy Siegel for "Avalon" director Barry Levinson, begins shooting Monday, while Universal already has begun to roll the cameras on "Mobsters," which takes a "Young Guns" approach to the mob and stars Christian Slater, Patrick Dempsey, Richard Grieco and Costas Mandylor as the young Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Siegel and Frank Costello ...

Last year was a boon for some screenwriters, as the price of top-drawer scripts written on spec went through the roof: $1.75 million for Shane Black's "The Last Boy Scout," $3 million for Joe Eszterhas's "Basic Instinct." And this year the same thing may happen in grade schools around the country, because Steven Spielberg has just purchased a storybook-style script written by three eighth-graders. The three kids, who attend school in Waynesboro, Va., sent their idea for a story about a disastrous Hawaiian vacation to Warner Bros., where it was passed from desk to desk until Spielberg saw it, liked it and bought it. He did so against the advice of Warner's lawyers, who are worried that the move will bring on a deluge of scripts written by schoolchildren. Still, any fledgling Joe Eszterhases will have to settle for considerably less money than their grown-up counterparts: For their script, the three kids will split $250.