'The Phantom Menace' stays on top, but its power may be ebbing | EW.com


'The Phantom Menace' stays on top, but its power may be ebbing

And star power is the only thing that pulled crowds to 'Instinct'

Could there have been less suspense as to what would conquer the box office this weekend? ”The Phantom Menace” was the dominant force for the third week in a row, pulling in an estimated $32.2 million for an astronomical total gross of $255 million. Its power is starting to wane, however: It dropped 37 percent from last weekend, and that was without any competition for the young male audience. But everything could change when ”Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” blows into theaters Friday. Unless Jar Jar Binks learns how to say, ”Mesa groovy, baby,” ”Menace”’s reign at the top could be over.

The only major new opening of the weekend was ”Instinct,” which debuted in a weak third place with $10.2 million, trailing behind the stalwart ”Notting Hill,” which earned $15 million. Rounding out the top 5 were ”The Mummy” ($7.5 million) and ”Entrapment” ($3.5 million). The Anthony Hopkins film received generally tepid reviews, but the moviegoers that attended didn’t seem to care. According to EW Online’s Critical Mass poll, a whopping 56 percent said they showed up just to see Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr. Once they got there, they liked the movie a little more than the critics (reviewers averaged a C-, while EW Online readers graded it a B-), but not enough to make it a hit.

Add your own opinion on ”Instinct” and all the other current movies at Critical Mass.