by Brandon Gray
August 27, 1999

This is one hell of a crowded weekend. Six new wide releases vie for the ever dwindling summer dollars. None of them are particularly strong, and since this is a traditionally slow weekend, the studios are likely just dumping them. The Sixth Sense will easily dominate for the fourth weekend in a row.

The 13th Warrior finally sees the light of day. The production was so troubled that its budget reportedly ballooned to an astounding $160 million. It has been collecting dust in Disney's vault for well over a year now. The delay has been so long that director John McTiernan already has another picture out (The Thomas Crown Affair) that he made well after it. You may remember seeing a preview for a picture called Eaters of the Dead a long time ago. That's the same one. They changed the title to the bland 13th Warrior for some reason. Strange since the original title was the same as the Michael Crichton book on which the picture is based. Playing at 2,306 theaters, Disney has been promoting the hell out of it, which is odd given the inconspicuous weekend they chose to release it on. Needless to say, they won't be making their money back.

The Astronaut's Wife is another picture that seems to have been in the can for a while. It looks like a cross between Rosemary's Baby and Species 2. The marketing campaign has been hokey and seems to reveal too much about the plot. Johnny Depp is a respected actor, but he's not a draw. Charlize Theron probably hoped to make the transition from starlet to star this time out, but that's not likely to happen. This picture will likely be lost in the shuffle despite its fairly wide 2,209 theater release.

The Muse is the most critically acclaimed of the lackluster new releases. However, as the disappointing performance of Bowfinger shows, audiences just aren't that interested in movies about Hollywood. Albert Brooks' pictures don't make much money anyway to begin with, and there is direct competition from Bowfinger, Mickey Blue Eyes, and Runaway Bride. Expect a mediocre showing for this first release from USA Films, the merging of October and Gramercy.

Universal started the summer with a Brendan Fraser smash, The Mummy. Now, they will end the summer with a Brendan Fraser dud. Dudley Do-Right was rather abruptly added to the summer schedule. With the little promotion it's getting, it's almost like the studio is just releasing it due to contractual obligations. Its ads have been playing mostly during kid shows, but it's unlikely that many kids are eager enough to see it to convince their parents to take them.

Meanwhile, In Too Deep should score with the still starved urban audience, and Warner Bros. dumps out another period family picture, A Dog of Flanders, that will make next to nothing.

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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