by Brandon Gray
July 22, 1999

I'm a late with this report due to lack of time and a case of writer's block in regards to this week's new releases. What a boring weekend. Unless the older movies show extraordinary holds, business could be well below the average. Of course, there is plenty of room for the openers to make a killing, but come on, who really wants to see The Haunting or Inspector Gadget? Yet each is getting released at over 2,800 theaters.

The Haunting is the second horror remake of the summer and seems to also be the second to not understand what made the original scary. The first was The Mummy, which mistook excessive CGI for actual horror and suspense. The Haunting apparently suffers the same problem, only moreso as it doesn't have the adventure trappings to fall back on like the former. "Some movies are born bad." I bet this play on the movie's slogan has been used to headline some of its bad reviews. Needless to say, I don't see this picture doing terribly well, especially in relation to its $80 million budget. I think many will be waiting to get their chills from The Blair Witch Project when it opens at a theater near them.

Meanwhile, Disney seems to be positioning Inspector Gadget in a similar way as they did George of the Jungle two years ago. I have no idea what the buzz on the playground is, but this picture looks terrible. I used to watch the show on occasion back in the 80's. This movie seems to stray from it significantly. First off, it looks like they made Gadget somewhat competent. But the point of the show was that he was completely oblivious, while it was his niece, Penny, and her dog, Brain, who actually solved the cases. They show Claw too! In the series, only his metal hand (and not a pincher like in the movie) was ever seen from behind that chair. And where is his cat? Where is the police chief who always gets stuck with the self-destructing messages? It's fine to make some changes for the big screen, but it's just plain wrong to deviate from the essence of the source material, only using its superficial trappings. So Disney has alienated fans of the show, leaving them only with little kids, who still might prefer to see Tarzan or The Phantom Menace for the umpteenth time.

New Line is dumping the delayed Drop Dead Gorgeous at just 1,207 theaters. What was the point of giving this picture a high profile release date if they weren't going to give it a high profile release? Oh well, look for it to perform accordingly.

Meanwhile, mixed word-of-mouth and the die hards having already rushed out to see it should cause Eyes Wide Shut to have a precipitous drop. Lake Placid should also take a similar hit. I finally saw it and found it hilarious. My favorite movie of the summer so far, though I haven't seen many. The thing is, many might have went into it expecting to be scared so it probably has received mixed word-of-mouth.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is poised to hit the $400 million mark no later than Saturday. That would be it's 67th day of release, narrowly missing Titanic's 66-day record.

Anyway, next week should be much more interesting as Runaway Bride and Deep Blue Sea open, and The Blair Witch Project goes wide.

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

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