EW Online readers like both equally but are rushing back only to 'Menace'

By Josh Wolk
June 01, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

There was something for everybody at movie theaters this weekend, and it seemed like everybody went. The action crowd satisfied their laser lust with ”The Phantom Menace,” earning it an enormous estimated $64.8 million for the four-day holiday weekend. This gargantuan gross helped ”Menace” earn yet another box office record: fastest film to reach $200 million. It hit the bicentennial mark on Monday (finishing up with $205 million) after 13 days in release, which is eight days earlier than the previous record holder, 1996’s “Independence Day.”

Meanwhile, romance fans with no passion for alien gibberish turned out for the well-reviewed ”Notting Hill,” which took in a stellar $27.8 million, setting a couple of records of its own: Its estimated $22.2 million three-day gross (not including its Memorial Day income) makes it the highest opening for a romantic comedy (beating last year’s $21.9 million take for ”The Wedding Singer”), and it’s also the best opening for a Julia Roberts film, squeaking by 1997’s ”My Best Friend’s Wedding,” which opened with $21.7 million. Wrapping up the top 5 this weekend were ”The Mummy” ($12.7 million), ”Entrapment” ($6.3 million), and ”The Thirteenth Floor” ($4.3 million).

CRITICAL MASS Sure, ”Notting Hill” had the glowing reviews, the big stars, and the impressive opening, but it will never approach the galactic gross of ”The Phantom Menace” for one main reason: no repeat business. In our Critical Mass poll, EW Online voters gave ”Notting Hill” a B+ average, the same as for ”Menace.” And, a total of 84 percent of voters said that they would either definitely (67%) or probably (17%) recommend ”Notting Hill” to others, while a comparable number said the same thing about ”Menace” (75percent would definitely recommend, and 14 percent probably would.) But when asked the question, ”How likely are you to see the film again?” only 49 percent said there was a chance they’d go back to see the romantic comedy, while a whopping 84 percent said they’d probably check out ”Menace” again. The lesson? True love only comes around once, but exploding droids last forever.

Enter your own votes for these and other current releases at Critical Mass.