Can a movie be the sleeper hit of the summer when its release is preceded by a barrage of magazine articles and television features proclaiming it the potential sleeper hit of the summer? For that matter, can a film be a sleeper of any kind when everybody (egged on, in this case, by Disney) talks about what a sleeper it's going to be? As it turns out, those are probably meaningless questions when it comes to "Arachnophobia": Based on last weekend's box office figures, the spider-laden horror-comedy won't be the summer's sleeper hit -- not because its sleeper status was blown by an avalanche of hype, but because it's not a hit.

The movie did respectable business in its opening weekend, but its $8 million gross trailed the second weekend of "Ghost" and the third weekend of "Die Hard 2," and its $5,440 per-screen average fell well behind the nearly $9,000 average posted by "Ghost" and was only slightly higher than the figures for the lightly regarded "Navy SEALs."

This isn't to say that "Arachnophobia" won't make money -- only that all of Disney's talk about its sleeper potential raised expectations considerably past what the movie delivered last weekend. "Ghost," meanwhile, is doing better than many people expected; it actually increased its take in its second weekend, something no other summer film has been able to do. You might even say that "Ghost" looks like the sleeper hit of the summer -- but then again, can a movie really be a sleeper when everybody (egged on, in this case, by Paramount) talks about what a sleeper it's going to be?

Short Takes

One of the chief complaints about the X rating is that it's not copyrighted by the Motion Picture Association of America, which means it can be self-imposed, and thus sullied, by porno moviemakers. Now Silverlight Entertainment has come up with a novel way around that: The company is going to self-impose a different non-copyrighted rating on its upcoming "Life Is Cheap ... but Toilet Paper Is Expensive." The movie, by director Wayne Wang, was rated X by the ratings board, and Silverlight recently lost its appeal. So rather than accept the X, the company says it'll jump the gun and be the first to use the A rating, which critics -- among them a group of 31 well-known directors -- have called for the MPAA to adopt ... And in a surprising bit of news from the ratings board, David Lynch's "Wild at Heart" was given an R rating after the director trimmed a scene in which actor Willem Dafoe's head is blown off. Lynch and other observers figured the board would either demand far more extensive cuts or give an X to the movie, which won the grand prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival.