Heather Graham is in final negotiations to star alongside Mike Myers in "Austin Powers II," the sequel to last year's surprise comedy hit. The 28-year-old actress ("Lost in Space," "Boogie Nights") would play Felicity Shagwell, a horny CIA agent who could out-shag the Brit shag master himself. (As reported in Entertainment Weekly, Elizabeth Hurley won't return because Myers wants a different female lead in each new "Powers" film, a la the Bond babes in the 007 films.) Heather Graham or Monica Lewinsky, it doesn't really matter who gets the part, says Robert Bucksbaum of box office analyst Reel Source: "Sixty percent of the audience we polled after seeing the first 'Austin Powers' went to see the film just because of Mike Myers, not Elizabeth Hurley."
Myers' last sequel, "Wayne's World II," was an underachiever, pulling in just $48 million compared to the first film's $121 million. But other comedy follow-ups have had mixed results: Charlie Sheen's "Hot Shots! Part Deux" grossed $39 million versus the original's $70 million, while Leslie Nielson's "Naked Gun 2 1/2," actually did better, grossing $87 million versus the original's $78 million.
Judging from "Austin Powers"' cult status -- fans across the country this summer dressed in groovy retro garb during New Line's midnight screenings of the film -- a sequel is almost certain to improve on the original's $59 million take. Bucksbaum says the first film's opening weekend ($9.5 million) was a low percentage of its overall gross, which indicates that the movie had long-lasting success at the box office and pent-up interest for a sequel. He predicts a huge opening weekend for "II" -- about double the amount the original took in -- especially if New Line goes through with its plan for a summer '99 release (when kids are out of school), rather than the early May date it chose for the original. "There's no question about 'Austin Powers II''s success," Bucksbaum says. "Everybody is already talking about it, and you don't see that with many comedy sequels." -- Gary Eng Walk