With another $20 million plus gross, the sleeper smash, The Sixth Sense, will be on top for the third weekend in a row, a feat achieved only by The Phantom Menace so far this year. The new releases should largely inspire indifference and bring the overall box office down to more traditional levels.
Mickey Blue Eyes is the second fish-out-of-water mob comedy this year. The $107 million grossing Analyze This was the other one and is now providing competition by just having been released on video. Oddly, Warner Bros. is the studio behind both. They are rather confident in this new one, releasing it at 2,573 theaters. Now I haven't seen the trailer, but the commercials for it have been rather lackluster. They just feature Hugh Grant trying to say such mob terms as "fuggedaboutit" and making a note to himself to rent Goodfellas and other mob movies. Sure, it plays on his befuddled British persona, but this one joke is not funny enough to sustain a whole movie. Grant's last hit that he carried on his own was 1995's Nine Months, which benefited from his infamous incident on Sunset Blvd. He got a big break playing opposite Julia Roberts in Notting Hill, but while people could stand a double dose of her in one summer, I don't think they can stand a double dose of his neuroses and scrunched up shoulders. (I find it utterly bizarre and insulting when he's compared to the great Cary Grant.) Runaway Bride offers direct competition on the romantic comedy front, while The Sixth Sense, Bowfinger and The Thomas Crown Affair will also draw away adults.
I remember last year when Killing Mrs. Tingle was considered to be quite the event. Scream scribe Kevin Williamson's directorial debut from his own script and starring his Dawson's Creek leading lady, Katie Holmes was a teen dream. Alas, the picture was delayed long enough that the teen craze has shifted from pop culture laden thrillers to pop culture laden comedies. Holmes did not prove to be much of a box office draw as Disturbing Behavior and Go both tanked. After the Columbine shootings spurred a rage against these kinds of pictures, the title was changed to the blah Teaching Mrs. Tingle. The general buzz turned bad after it was seen. Now, it's finally here, and Miramax is opening it at an unconfident 1,710 theaters. However, the stars and the premise seem to be appealing enough to teens and direct competition is low enough to score a modest opening.
The sequel to Universal Soldier comes seven years after the first one. Not exactly striking while the iron was hot, or rather lukewarm in light of the original's modest grosses. Why was it even made? Perhaps a grasping at straws by a has-been action star? Jean-Claude Van Damme recently suffered the humiliation of seeing his last picture, Legionnaire, go straight to video. All of his pictures since 1994 that did get theatrical releases bombed. So this new one has nothing going for it. Or does it? It co-stars some wrestler named Bill Goldberg. Apparently, he's very popular. But more importantly, this is the first pure action picture to come out in months. So the starved action fans are restless and may go see this just to get some kind of fix. Therefore, I expect a better than average opening for Van Damme.
Editor's Note: Articles published before 2001 were assigned and reported as box office briefings, not a full evaluation or analysis.