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WEEKEND BOXOFFICE ADVANCE: 'Mummy's' Day Comes Early for 'Return' to No. 1

4 May, 2001 By: Ed Ochs

Universal's effects-driven sequel The Mummy Returns arrives just in time to rescue Universal from the box office tomb of last place and kick off the summer season early, as the Mummy series bids to become the Indiana Jones of its day. With no major competition, The Mummy enjoys a clear path to the box office, and media momentum is building for a big opening.

Sharing much of the same male audience as The Mummy, Sylvester Stallone's Driven will be crushed under the chariot wheels of The Rock's Scorpion King. But Driven will still finish strong, coming out of the weekend with about $23 million in 10 days.

Back for another blast to the past in PG-13 The Mummy Returns are Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz and writer/director Stephen Sommers, with wrestling icon The Rock capping the sequel cast. The Mummy opened in 1999 with $43.4 million. If Mummy Returns does anything near that, Universal will probably build a pyramidat the studio and pop the cork on some of that leftover vintage Seagram's.

If it under-achieves, it's probably because of the title. With all that history and symbolism at their fingertips, that's all they could come up with --The Mummy Returns? But that's what separates the super hits from the mega hits, isn't it?

Meanwhile, in the Miramax wing of the box office, the resilient Bridget Jones's Diary, starring Renee Zellweger, has been on a nice long winning streak, and should exit the weekend with a 17-day total of about $45 million. Ath the same time, one more good weekend will boost Spy Kids into the exclusive $100 million club -- while adding a significant new milestone to Antonio Banderas' growing big-movie resume.

With The Mummy begins the countdown to a summer of sequels -- but not before a major stop in three weeks at Pearl Harbor. That's when the action really starts.

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