by Brandon Gray
July 29, 1999
Runaway Bride starring Julia Roberts is the first romantic comedy since, well, Notting Hill starring Julia Roberts. The ads feature that Police song, "Every Breath You Take." Odd choice as the song's about a stalker, right? Paramount is putting it out on 3,158 theaters, the widest release ever for a romantic comedy. This Pretty Woman reunion of Roberts, Richard Gere and director Garry Marshall has no direct competition and should easily break the $21.8 million opening weekend record for this genre set two months ago by Notting Hill. It should easily take the top spot for the week as well.
After a drought, there has been a glut of scary movies recently, so Deep Blue Sea doesn't have it so easy. Lake Placid beat it to the punch, though it was more of a comedy and is no longer a contender. The Haunting also beat it and had a surprisingly enormous opening, thanks in part to a PG-13 rating. Now The Blair Witch Project is going wide after a phenomenal limited run and with the zeitgeist on its side. Both Blair and Deep are R rated, and, unfortunately for them, exhibitors have been enforcing the rating. So something's got to give. Usually it's those late to the party. The box office tends to expand to accommodate multiple big releases, however this is only when they have different demographics.
Here's how I think it'll turn out. In addition to the competition, mixed word-of-mouth should contribute to The Haunting plummeting over 50%. However, that should still be enough to outdo the rest. Opening at 2,854 theaters, Deep Blue Sea should closely follow. It's a thrill ride that will likely satisfy the action crowd. The Blair Witch Project should come in a bit further behind, but it's only opening at around 1,000 theaters. It will have the highest average of the week yet again.
This has been a record-breaking summer, but what it has lacked so far is a pure action picture. It's surprising that no studio has yet taken advantage of this void.
Editor's Note: Articles published before 2001 were assigned and reported as box office briefings, not a full evaluation or analysis.