Maybe we couldn’t see him, but Kevin Bacon’s invisible man definitely made his presence known, as ”Hollow Man” topped the box office this weekend. In fact, ”Hollow”’s $26.4 million opening makes it the second best August box office debut ever, behind ”The Sixth Sense,” which earned $26.7 million exactly one year ago. The film’s opening was also a career high for Dutch helmer Paul Verhoeven, surpassing ”Total Recall,” which debuted at $25.5 million back in 1990. Critics eviscerated ”Hollow,” but — as usual — that failed to deter audiences. Columbia Sony Pictures credited the film’s appeal to the director’s rep for flashy special effects. ”There’s no question we’re selling a package by a guy [Verhoeven] who has a lot of credibility in the genre,” said distribution prez Jeff Blake.
Two other big newcomers — ”Space Cowboys” and ”Coyote Ugly” — also fared well at the box office, but they couldn’t take down Eddie Murphy. Even though ”Nutty Professor II” lost some 58 percent of its audience, the comedy landed in second place, scoring $18.2 million. The Clint Eastwood directed ”Space” (No. 3) blasted off with some $18.1 million — a career best for the 70 year old Hollywood vet, whose previous best openings were for ”Unforgiven” ($15 million) and ”In the Line of Fire” ( $15.2 million). Jerry Bruckheimer’s barroom babe flick ”Coyote Ugly” (No. 4) kicked up $17.3 million in its first three days, while the supernatural stalker movie ”What Lies Beneath” rounded out the top 5 with $13.8 million, bringing its three week total to $95.1 million.
CRITICAL MASS Maybe people went to see ”Hollow Man” for its snazzy special effects, but from the looks of EW.com’s poll they might have left the theater wishing Kevin Bacon would REALLY disappear. Overall, voters graded the transparent thriller a C+ (Even lower than the critics’ tepid average of B-), and more than half of them said the flick was far worse than they had expected. Contrary to Columbia’s high estimation of Verhoeven’s appeal, only 7 percent of voters said they went to see ”Hollow” for its director. Instead, a whopping 53 percent said it was the film’s trailers that drew them in — indicating that Columbia’s marketing package proved more titillating than the talents.
Voters were generally more pleased with this week’s other two newcomers — especially Eastwood’s ”Space Cowboys.” Overall, readers marked the film about a gang of retired NASA boys’ unlikely comeback a B+, higher than the critics’ average score of B-. Unlike those who regretted shelling out dough for ”Hollow,” some 78 percent of voters said ”Cowboys” was far better than expected, and 74 percent claimed that they would definitely recommend it to others. Bruckheimer’s ”Coyote” didn’t fair quite as well, earning a B- from readers (critics gave it a C). Surprisingly, women liked the story about five sexy New York bartenders far better than men, whose lowly grade of C brought the average down. What’s wrong guys — not enough wet T-shirt contests for the money?
To vote on these and other current movies, visit our Critical Mass Movie Poll.