Josh Wolk
August 23, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”The Sixth Sense” is the movie that will not die. For the third week in a row it has held on to the top spot at the box office (tying ”The Phantom Menace”’s streak), dropping a measly 6 percent, to take in another estimated $24.1 million, for a to-date gross of $107.7 million. The key to ”Sense”’s success is its surprise ending: Not only is it inciting people to recommend the film to others, but many are going back a second time to see how the director set them up for the final twist.

None of this week’s new releases provided much of a challenge for ”Sense.” ”Mickey Blue Eyes” debuted in third place with $10.4 million, not enough to beat out the $10.7 million take for the reigning comedy, ”Bowfinger,” which held onto second place. ”Runaway Bride” ($9.3 million) and ”The Blair Witch Project” ($7.1 million) finished up the top 5.

Meanwhile, Jean-Claude Van Damme didn’t exactly kick it at the box office, with ”Universal Soldier: The Return” opening in seventh place, with $4.7 million. The biggest loser, however, was ”Teaching Mrs. Tingle,” which showed up in 10th place with only $3.5 million. Perhaps its writer/director, Kevin Williamson of ”Dawson’s Creek” fame, has learned a lesson that high school teachers have known for years: Just because you’re good at talking to the teens doesn’t mean they’ll always listen.

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