Seems audiences still have a taste for mass destruction. Even with terrorists nuking a Baltimore football stadium, the Tom Clancy thriller The Sum of All Fears added up to a $31.2 million No. 1 opening weekend. Star Ben Affleck, debuting as CIA analyst Jack Ryan, defends the explosive Sum: ”As a cautionary tale, the idea is to make it disturbing, to raise awareness about nuclear proliferation.” (!)

As for why the explosion didn’t do Hiroshima-like damage, director Phil Alden Robinson claims it was a low-yield bomb that burst below ground, way outside town: ”Which accounts for why people wouldn’t be getting radiation poisoning where Jack Ryan is.” Nuclear expert Joseph Cirincione agrees Affleck might be safe — as long as those burning buildings he’s running past are far from the blast site. ”There’d be significant radiation doses, and you wouldn’t want to go there,” he says of the stadium.

And how does Baltimore feel, considering Denver was the original target in Clancy’s novel? (Robinson wanted the action closer to Ryan’s D.C. base.) ”I have no problem blowing up Baltimore in a movie if it’s done with joy and style,” says one native son, director John Waters, noting that locals seem to be taking it all in stride. ”It takes a lot to surprise Baltimoreans. We’re not easily impressed.”

The Sum of All Fears
  • Movie
  • 124 minutes