The cast of "Flatliners," most of them in their early twenties, were less than 10 years old when "Chinatown" was released in 1974. So, apparently, was most of the moviegoing audience: Last weekend's box office totals for "The Two Jakes" showed that today's filmgoers don't much care about the sequel to the 16-year-old "Chinatown," and that Jack Nicholson isn't half the draw as Jake Gittes that he was as the Joker. This is rough news for stars who expect to maintain their drawing power, especially in light of the research done earlier this summer that suggested Warren Beatty was a liability when it came to drawing a young crowd to "Dick Tracy." And while "The Two Jakes" didn't expect to top the box office charts against its more youth-oriented competition, it did figure to rack up some impressive per-screen averages. But even in that department, its $3,092 average was nearly disastrous, trailing the widely released "Flatliners," "Presumed Innocent," "Ghost," "Mo' Better Blues" and "Air America."

sComedy, Getting Serious The opening-night film at this year's Cinetex '90 International Comedy Film Festival will be ... a drama from Clint Eastwood? It doesn't make much sense, but Eastwood's "White Hunter, Black Heart" -- a drama based on the making of John Huston's "The African Queen" -- has been chosen as the kickoff attraction at this year's festival, which takes place in Las Vegas in early September. Festival officials say they wanted to kick off their event with a major-studio comedy, but none was available -- so now they'll watch Eastwood's serious movie, then spend the next four days talking about comedy and watching other movies that include "Enid Is Sleeping," with Elizabeth Perkins and Judge Reinhold; "Dead Men Don't Die," with Elliott Gould; and the Soviet film "Fountain." All of those movies, by the way, are comedies.

Turning Crisis Into Opportunity "I only hope I'm first," said 21st Century Film Corp. Chairman Menahem Golan late last week, as the filmmaker raced to capitalize on the current tensions in the Middle East. Golan, whose company was preparing to make "Team 6," about Navy SEALs on a mission in an unidentified Middle Eastern country, is now busily changing his movie to identify the country as Iraq and use other details of the current conflict. But in a way, Golan isn't the first: Orion Pictures has already instituted a new ad campaign for its movie "Navy SEALs." The ads point out that real SEALs are currently in the Middle East.

Short Takes Tri-Star Pictures has verified that Dustin Hoffman and Robin Williams will star in "Hook," an updated version of the Peter Pan story. And the studio also announced a director for the project: Steven Spielberg, who'll start work on the movie by early next year, depending on everybody's availability ... John Avildsen, who directed the first "Rocky" movie and was back on board for "Rocky V," reportedly had some disagreements with Sylvester Stallone during post-production on that film. As a result, with only a little work left to do on the movie, Avildsen has quit; the finishing touches will be put on the film by Stallone and producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler ... And in another bit of fallout from "creative differences," William Hurt will re-team with his "Children of a Lesser God" director Randa Haines in "The Doctor," a drama about a physician who gets cancer. Warren Beatty was originally slated to play the role, but he left because of disagreements with Haines ... Principal photography began earlier this week on "Paris Trout," a film based on Pete Dexter's National Book Award-winning 1988 novel about a well-regarded white Southerner who kills a young black girl. Dexter wrote the screenplay himself; Dennis Hopper stars as the central character, while Barbara Hershey plays his wife. Ed Harris is also in the cast ... Production has also begun on "Little Man Tate," a drama that marks actress Jodie Foster's debut as a director. It deals with the relationship between a gifted 7-year-old boy (newcomer Adam Hann-Byrd), his mother (Foster) and a child psychologist (Dianne Wiest) ... The next movie from always-controversial director Ken Russell will be titled "Whore." It begins shooting in Los Angeles this fall, and Russell has just signed actress Theresa Russell (no relation) to star.