The Brendan Fraser special-effects extravaganza takes more than half of all ticket sales

By Josh Wolk
May 10, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

Did last week’s premiere of the new ”Phantom Menace” music video spark a Pavlovian response in moviegoers to seek out special effects? ”The Mummy” — packed with computer-generated zombies and killer bugs — opened far atop the box office pyramid this weekend, with a walloping estimated $44.7 million gross, easily trumping 1999’s previous biggest opener, ”The Matrix,” which took in $27.8 million in its three-day debut. With no blockbuster competition standing in its way, ”The Mummy” accounted for more than half of all movie revenue this weekend, and experts predict it might rake in some $80 million before May 19, when ”Phantom Menace” forces its way into theaters and makes effects freaks say ”Mummy who?”

Finishing behind ”The Mummy” were ”Entrapment” ($12.2 million), ”The Matrix” ($6 million), and ”Life” ($3.5 million). Landing in fifth place was the critically acclaimed ”Election” ($3.3 million), which Paramount has been slowly expanding to new markets to capitalize on the film’s positive word-of-mouth. This is a questionable strategy because ”Election” now risks running into the summer season, when anything that doesn’t headline a $20 million star can easily get trampled. Is it too late for Paramount to add a CGI killer-robot-principal to this high school comedy?