As expected, Columbia Pictures' adult sci-fi thriller Hollow Man topped the box office chart in North America over the weekend - probably one of the most competitive of the summer so far. Directed by Paul Verhoeven, the R-rated film took an estimated $26.8m, which if the figure holds, would mark the biggest August opening ever - higher than last summer's The Sixth Sense which took $26.7m. It also represents the highest opening for a Verhoeven film ever, beating 1990's Total Recall which grossed $25.5m in its first weekend.
Critics were mixed on the latest Verhoeven opus, lauding the special effects but slamming the nastiness of the plot, the sexual violence and the lack of any redeeming qualities in the lead character, played by Kevin Bacon. Bacon is joined in the cast by Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin and William Devane.
Devane also featured in the second highest new entry - Warner Bros' Space Cowboys - the latest directorial effort of Clint Eastwood, which clocked in with an impressive $17.6m, the biggest opening ever for an Eastwood film, either as star or director. Eastwood is joined by Tommy Lee Jones, Donald Sutherland and James Garner in the movie, an adventure about a space mission peopled by a team of old-timers.
Just beating Space Cowboys was Universal's Nutty Professor II: The Klumps which slid 58% in its second weekend to clinch the second position with $18m. Final figures will be released on Monday which will confirm whether it is at number two or three.
And close behind with $17m was Buena Vista's Coyote Ugly - the latest Jerry Bruckheimer production to be roundly slated by critics. A teen fantasy set in and around a New York bar, the movie still performed well, its audience mostly composed of women under 21 despite a marketing campaign which focused on the sexy antics of a bunch of beautiful female bartenders.
Business was about 15% down on the same weekend last year, a worrying sign for the industry which will probably face a drop in admissions this year - probably due to the mainstream penetration of the internet and its attractions, although the product has also been blamed as unexceptional.
Next week's new releases include Keanu Reeves-starrer The Replacements from Warner Bros, supernatural thriller Bless The Child starring Kim Basinger from Paramount and MGM's Autumn In New York starring Winona Ryder and Richard Gere.
ESTIMATED TOP TEN US (AUG 4-6)
Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date
1 (-) Hollow Man (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $26.8m
2 (1) Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (Universal) UIP $18m $76.5m
3 (-) Space Cowboys (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $17.6m --
4 (-) Coyote Ugly (Buena Vista) BVI $17m --
5 (2) What Lies Beneath (DreamWorks SKG) 20th Century Fox $13.9m $95.2m
6 (3) X-Men (20th Century Fox) 20th Century Fox $6.1m $135.6m
7 (4) Scary Movie (Miramax) Miramax International $4.2m $140.1m
8 (5) The Perfect Storm (Warner Bros) Warner Bros $3.8m $165.4m
9 (7) Disney's The Kid (Buena Vista) BVI $2.9m $58.2m
10 (8) The Patriot (Columbia) Columbia TriStar $2.3m $105.7m