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'Tarzan' beats out 'Austin Powers'

And according to our Critical Mass poll, adults loved the monkey boy even more than kids did

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The jungle seems to work well for Disney. This weekend ”Tarzan” debuted at No. 1 with an estimated $34.1 million, the studio’s best animated opening after 1994’s ”The Lion King,” which premiered with $41 million. Meanwhile, the monkey-less ”Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” ended its second week at a strong No. 2 with $31.9 million, bringing it to an impressive $116.7 million total so far.

Recently there has been a steep cash drop-off after the top couple of films, but this weekend high-grossers crowded the top five. ”The General’s Daughter” landed in third with an impressive $22.3 million (Travolta’s best opening since 1997’s ”Face/Off” with $23.4 million). And in fourth, ”The Phantom Menace” continues to suck in every last moviegoer’s dollar, earning $17.8 million for a total of $328 million, making it the sixth-highest-grossing film of all time. For fifth place ”Notting Hill” dropped down to $7 million, pulling in $79.9 million so far.

Grosses were so high, in fact, that it may have been the first time that three movies took in more than $20 million on the same weekend. ”This says that when people make good movies, no matter how many, there’s room in the marketplace,” a Disney exec said. You can’t argue with those dollars… although some might argue with his definition of ”good movies.”

CRITICAL MASS According to EW Online readers, ”Tarzan” ain’t just for the kiddies. In our Critical Mass poll, the film actually appealed more to older folks. Voters under the age of 29 averaged an A- grade, while those over 29 gave it an A.

Meanwhile, our readers liked ”The General’s Daughter” more than critics, who assailed the film for its harsh scenes of violence against the titular woman, did. But no matter how many movies John Travolta churns out, he still has drawing power: 52 percent of our readers said they went to see ”Daughter” because of the movie’s stars. And unless that means there’s an enormous James Woods fan club out there, Travolta won’t be slipping back to B-movies anytime soon.