Lori Reese
July 24, 2000 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The figures aren’t quite as mind boggling as the debut of last week’s No. 1 flick ”X-Men” at nearly $55 million, but ”What Lies Beneath”’s solid $30.1 million opening gross is thrilling to DreamWorks execs nonetheless. ”Beneath” is the fifth big winner for the studio this summer — beginning with the powerhouse ”Gladiator,” and followed by ”Small Time Crooks,” ”Road Trip,” and ”Chicken Run” — a major accomplishment for the start-up in a season fraught with tough competition. But ”Beneath”’s success was hardly a shocker. Execs say the film opened right on target with studio estimates, crediting its success with savvy timing. ”This particular movie at this particular time filled a gap,” says distribution chief Jim Tharp. ”There wasn’t much out there for adults, and especially for adult females.”

Indeed, last week’s youth targeted hit ”X-Men” may have been a slight second-week disappointment to Fox. Though its healthy $23.7 mil take was worthy of superhero status, the Marvel comics adaptation tumbled 56 percent to No. 2, bringing its 10 day score to $95.5 mil — just shy of the $100 mil mark analysts expected. Warner Bros.’ newcomer ”Pokémon: The Movie 2000” debuted in third place with a $21.5 million gross. And the youth friendly ”Scary Movie” (No. 4) scared up another $14.9 million, bringing its 14 day total to a howling $116.3 mil. Director Keenen Ivory Wayans now not only holds the record for the top R rated debut, he surpassed Sidney Poitier’s ”Stir Crazy” ($101.1 mil) as the biggest grossing film in history by a black director. (However, ”Scary”’s most frightening competition starts next week with the opening of Eddie Murphy’s sequel to ”The Nutty Professor.”) Meanwhile, ”The Perfect Storm” soaked up another $9.5 million to finish at No. 5.

CRITICAL MASS Studio execs may have been aiming ”What Lies Beneath” at adult women, but as far as EW Online’s readers are concerned the film’s A-list talent struck home across all demos. On average, voters graded the Harrison Ford Michelle Pfeiffer thriller a B+, slightly higher than the critics’ grade of B. Indeed, both men and women thought the film deserved a B+ — and scores in all age groups never fell below a B. While many have bemoaned the lack of subtlety in the movie’s ads, some 24 percent of voters said the fright-heavy trailers are the reason they saw the film. Still, another 65 percent said they went to specifically to see Pfeiffer and Ford — which explains why these acting heavyweights earn their big paydays.

Meanwhile, this week’s other newcomer, ”Pokémon: The Movie 2000,” can’t boast such across-the-board popularity. Overall, the sequel to last summer’s hit earned a C from EW Online voters. Lowly marks like the F given by those aged 30-39 did little to help that average. Most of EW Online’s voters who suffered through ”Pokémon” this weekend said they went for reasons ”other” than its trailers, director, or reviews. Which implies that a lot of youngsters with sizable you know what collections were calling the shots when it came to deciding which movie to see this weekend.

To vote on these and other current movies, visit our Critical Mass Movie Poll.

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