Coyote Ugly's Fourth Place Open

Kevin Bacon’s disappearing act was hard to miss in theaters this weekend, with Hollow Man taking in $26.8 million according to studio estimates.

Director Paul Verhoeven’s thriller about a scientist who creates a serum to make himself invisible easily took first place at the box office, appearing in front of a near three-way tie for second place.

Last week’s top opener Nutty Professor II: The Klumps slipped into second place with $18 million, just slightly ahead of the Space Cowboys who landed in third with $17.6 million in receipts.

The barmaids of Coyote Ugly collected $17 million for the weekend, adding up to a fourth place open for the Disney release.

Eastwood Flies to Career High James Garner, Donald Sutherland and Tommy Lee Jones join Clint Eastwood as a team of aging astronauts in Space Cowboys. Eastwood doubles as director of the comedy and achieved his strongest film debut ever, including his work as both an actor and director. Warner Brothers President of Theatrical Distribution Dan Fellman calls this a wonderful opening, “considering since 1970 he has generated over a billion dollars at the domestic box office. I think what this shows is his ability to pick projects and still have a great appeal to all mass audiences across the country.”

Coyote Ugly’s fourth place debut is considered a respectable open by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution President Chuck Viane, “I’m in love with it, to get a mid teen open with no movie stars is a great way to start.”

He’s more concerned with the films’ endurance. “It’s truly about what we do next weekend. For some reason producer Jerry [Bruckheimer] has a tremendous record, whether it’s Flashdance or Dangerous Minds, where movies play out and play out.”

Subtle Slowdown With three diverse new movies and a strong holdover in Nutty Professor, the overall box office still lagged far behind the same period in 1999. The top 12 movies grossed $116.5 million, down 15.3 percent from the same weekend a year ago.

“The marketplace is not expanding. You had three huge movies that opened and were highly anticipated, and this marketplace couldn’t expand?” said Nikki Rocco, head of distribution for Universal. “I wish the business was better.”

To date, this summer’s box office is off slightly from last year, when revenues hit a record $3 billion, said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, which tracks movie-ticket sales.

Given a weak crop of films opening before Labor Day, Hollywood seems to have little chance of meeting last year’s high. Mission: Impossible 2 is the only movie to top $200 million, and The Perfect Storm has hit $165 million. Scary Movie has been the only surprise blockbuster, hitting $140 million and surpassing Good Will Hunting as Miramax’s top-grossing movie ever.

If the weekend numbers hold, Hollow Man would become the biggest August debut ever, beating The Sixth Sense’s $26.7 million.

In limited release, Saving Grace grossed $290,000 at 30 cinemas, a healthy opening average of $9,630 a theater. The comedy stars Brenda Blethyn as a widow who grows marijuana to make ends meet.

The Tao of Steve, starring Donal Logue as a chubby womanizer, debuted at nine theaters with $90,407, averaging $10,045. The Associated Press contributed to this report.