This is one crowded weekend. Five new pictures plus some strong holdovers. Damn, what are these studios thinking? The marketplace has recently proved to be rather expansive, but this is really pushing it. Since most of the new releases share the same demographics as the holdovers, they all seem to be the odd men out, like the studios are just dumping them.

The Blair Witch Project is poised to take the top spot after adding 1,000 theaters. Word-of-mouth has been mixed, but the zeitgeist is strong enough to carry it through its new venues. The new commercials feature critic's quotes flying at you in big bold print accompanied by screams and those drumbeats you always hear for thrillers. It's rather cliché, and doesn't fit with the rest of the campaign.

Runaway Bride doesn't have room to grow, given that it already had an ultra-wide release. It also still doesn't have much direct competition. It should make enough for second place.

The Sixth Sense has an ad campaign conspicuously lacking in the "money shots" usually employed to sell thrillers and any movie starring Bruce Willis, though I haven't seen the trailer. It just seems rather late to the horror party. It also seems like it would have been better suited as a Fall release. I suspect the reason it suddenly appeared on the Summer schedule a short while ago, was that two other Willis pictures, The Story of Us and Breakfast of Champions, set Fall release dates. Anyway, it looks like it's going to be a crowd pleaser, and that should help it make a decent amount.

Mystery Men is shaping up to be quite the non-event. Universal pushed it back from the less crowded July 30 weekend, to this one, which suggests trouble. It certainly has a "hip" cast, only "hipness" usually doesn't translate well into big box office. Its initial appeal kind of reminds me of that infamous bomb, The Avengers, from about the same time last year.

James Bond aside, MGM's name on a picture has become box office poison. Then again, they have been releasing some dogs. The remake, The Thomas Crown Affair, had some potential. But MGM delayed it until this crowded weekend and released it after the similar caper thriller Entrapment already made a bundle.

The Iron Giant has received much praise for being a thoughtful, entertaining picture for the whole family. That means it probably won't make much money. Sad, but that's what history suggests. This picture like all family fare is pretty much out of my radar though.

Dick's spoof of Nixon and Watergate could appeal to adults, however its teen focus does not. Conversely, teens might like the stars, but will not likely be interested in the subject matter. In other words, there is no significant audience for this.

Editor's Note: Articles published before 2001 were assigned and reported as box office briefings, not a full evaluation or analysis.