Box office experts continue to underestimate ”The Sixth Sense”: No one predicted the psychological thriller would come in first last week, but the fact that it remained in first place two weeks in a row was completely supernatural. In a textbook case of exemplary word of mouth, ”Sense” dropped only 2 percent, to pull in another $26.1 million, giving it a 10-day total of $70 million. Many predicted that ”Bowfinger” would take over the top spot, but the Steve Martin comedy had to settle for second with $18.2 million, making ”Sense” the first movie in nine weeks to hold No. 1 for more than one weekend. (”The Phantom Menace” was the last to hold that honor, ending a three-week reign in early June.)
Other than ”Bowfinger,” new releases were tough to find on this week’s chart. Rounding out the top 5 were old-timers ”The Blair Witch Project” ($15.3 million), ”Runaway Bride” ($14.2 million), and ”The Thomas Crown Affair” ($10.2 million). You had to jump down to ninth place to find the next newbie, Claire Danes’ ”Brokedown Palace,” which took in only $4 million. But that was a blockbuster compared to Edward Furlong’s ”Detroit Rock City,” which grossed only $2 million, with a pitiful $1,110 per-screen average. (”Sense” averaged $10,900.) While both movies starred actors targeted to the lucrative teen market, the filmmakers neglected one key role: The kids today like to see their stars all spiffed up and losing their respective virginities; rotting in Thailand prisons and sporting horrendous 1970s hairdos, those are bummers, dude!
CRITICAL MASS EW readers’ grades at Critical Mass reflected the box office pecking order: ”The Sixth Sense” is still hovering at an A-, while ”Bowfinger” earned a B. If ”Sense” grosses are growing because of people’s recommendations, then the recommendees aren’t leaving disappointed. Eighty-four percent said it was better than they expected, up 2 percent from last week. Looking towards the future, 88 percent of ”Sense” patrons still say they’d definitely encourage others to go see it, while only 58 percent of ”Bowfinger” attendees said the same. Apparently, seeing dead people has its advantages.