Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines opened in select theaters for early previews Tuesday night to a rough reception. Granted, it played in many fewer theaters than Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, but the Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick finished in second place with $4 million. This does not bode well for the weekend.
T3 is expanding to play in an equal number of theaters to the Angels sequel. But the numbers show, theatergoers aren't exactly tripping over themselves to see what happened when machines took over the world. They may already know the answer: They make mediocre studio pictures.
In fact, there's been a new trend at the box office the last couple of weeks. Both The Hulk and Angels opened with strong Fridays, then did decreasing amounts of business on the following days. This is a reverse trend for blockbusters, which usually do as well on their opening Saturday as they did the night before -- or better.
But it seems the public has sniffed something a little phony in all these films -- maybe a little cynical on the part of their producers -- which would account for the lackluster response to all three summer movies.
It's quite the opposite for Finding Nemo, however. The Pixar/Disney flick continues to astound, and rightly so. Nemo feels fresh and encourages repeat viewings. It doesn't carry the baggage of wary reviews from critics and has great word-of-mouth. When the summer numbers are counted in the end, expect Nemo to be the big catch.
Who turned out to the big winner in Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde? Jennifer Coolidge of course.
Not an ingenue by any means, Coolidge has quickly become the sort of Kathy Najimy of the new millennium. She's an unaffected comedic delight in all her work so far, whether it's in Christopher Guest's Best in Show and Mighty Wind, or as Reese Witherspoon's likeable foil in the Blonde films.
At the LB2 premiere the other night, it was Coolidge who was accessible and fun. More people wanted to meet her than any other actor in the film. Small wonder.
''Really?'' she said with genuine surprise as more than one reporter came to congratulate her. ''I felt like the fat girl in this one.''
Coolidge comes from Boston's south shore. She's so nice that she invited two college girls who come from her hometown to join her at the premiere. The pair of coeds were ga-ga all night from the experience. Coolidge, who is much more svelte than she gives herself credit for being, took it all in stride.
What's next? ''I'm in the new Halle Berry movie!'' she said. Indeed, she joins an all-star cast in Robots, a 20th Century Fox animated feature also starring Ewan McGregor, Mel Brooks and many other impressive names. But really, more Coolidge is what we need to see on screen. She's the redeeming feature in LB2.
By the way, in this week's New York Observer, there's an interesting item about Versace and how it fits in to LB2. Even though the spokesperson says the company is happy about being in the film, I don't understand how they can be. Spelled as initials -- V.E.R.S.A.C.E -- the company is identified as being a cruel tester of animals for cosmetics. It's like a reverse product placement. I guess the idea is that the movie is so inane it doesn't matter. But it's a little weird.
Time magazine's cover guy this week is Benjamin Franklin. Yeah, the kite and key lightning rod Franklin from the 1700s. Of course, former Time editor-in-chief Walter Isaacson wrote the forthcoming Franklin bio excerpted in the mag, but that's just a coincidence.
Another Franklin coincidence, or proof that lightning strikes twice in the media: Ben is also the subject of a long piece in The New Yorker this week by Adam Gopnik. That story makes no mention of the Isaacson book. It's just serendipity, I guess, that everyone got interested at the same time in a man who died more than 200 years ago. A little aggressive on the part of The New Yorker, I'd say. And the Gopnik piece is pretty good.