The Keanu Reeves thriller scores No. 1, with ''Nurse Betty'' close behind
Renee Zellweger, Nurse Betty

Keanu Reeves stalked the box office in his second popcorn flick of the summer: ”The Watcher” earned an estimated $9.1 million to top the weekend’s tally. Even though Reeves played a serial killer this time instead of a scab quarterback, the Universal crime saga was still able to lure more people away from watching various football games on the tube than its major rival, ”Nurse Betty.” The critically lauded Renée Zellweger/ Chris Rock comedy debuted with $7.3 mil for second place.

There were few surprises among the rest of the top 5. Universal’s cheerleader flick, ”Bring It On,” cartwheeled from first to third place with a $6.5 million take. Jennifer Lopez’s ”The Cell” finished at No. 4 ($3.5 million), while the long enduring geriatric NASA comedy ”Space Cowboys” rounded out the top 5 ($3.3 million). The weekend’s only other big newcomer, ”The Way of the Gun,” earned a dismal $2.2 million, for ninth place. The biggest per screen winner, however, was the reissue of ”This Is Spinal Tap,” Rob Reiner’s classic heavy metal spoof, which earned an average of $5,400 on 10 screens.

CRITICAL MASS ”The Watcher” may have made a killing at the box office, but it couldn’t capture the hearts of readers. The suspense flick earned a mediocre grade of B- from voters, which was at least better than the critics’ abysmal average of C-. Most voters said that Keanu Reeves’ and Marisa Tomei’s star power drew them to theaters, but that sure didn’t make them want to see it again. A mere 10 percent of voters said they’d return to see Reeves menace society, while just 20 percent would recommend the film to friends.

”Nurse Betty,” on the other hand, may be situated for a far healthier box office run. On average, readers gave it a grade of B+ (critics gave it an A), with the highest marks coming from the 40 plus crowd. Older folks are usually the most influenced by positive reviews, analysts say. And 52 percent of readers said that ”Betty”’s glowing write ups encouraged them to see it. Meanwhile, 35 percent said they would return to see Zellweger cross the country for her soap opera hero, and 61 percent said that they would recommend the movie to friends. Too bad Keanu was too busy scoring touchdowns to get into the soap biz.

To vote on these and other current movies, visit our Critical Mass Movie Poll.

Bring It On
  • Movie
  • 98 minutes