Ben-Jen's 'Gigli': Stinker of Summer

08/04/2003 AT 01:00 PM EDT

Even though the beach-blanket movie "From Justin to Kelly," based on FOX's "American Idol," grossed only $5 million at the box office when it quickly came and went a few weeks ago, the "Stinker of the Summer" label has been permanently affixed to Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck in "Gigli."

The movie -- which marks the real-life couple's first on-screen pairing -- opened to derisive reviews and disappointing business this weekend, bringing in only $3.8 million and landing at No. 7 on the Friday-Sunday Top 10 list, according to studio estimates.

Actually, "derisive" and "disappointing" are kind adjectives, considering the reaction to the picture, in which Affleck plays a small-time mobster and Lopez plays a midriff-baring lesbian crook.

So low was the turnout for the picture that The New York Times headlined its story: "J.Lo and Affleck Finally Get Some Privacy."

The Times reports that the film is not likely to recoup its $54 million cost, and the next Ben-Jen vehicle, "Jersey Girl," has seen its release date pushed back from later this year to the beginning of next year. Analysts credit the move as a means to distance "Jersey Girl" from "Gigli."

Assessing the disaster, Tom Sherak, a principal at the film's producer, Revolution Studios, tells Reuters: "We couldn't separate the movie from their real lives. You don't look at them as actors in this movie. You look at them as Jen and Ben."

And critics just didn't like looking at them, at least not in this vehicle, written and directed by Martin Brest ("Meet Joe Black").

A "hopelessly misconceived exercise in celebrity self-worship," wailed The Times, while The Washington Post called it "enervated, torpid, slack, dreary and, oh yes, nasty, brutish and long."

Still, the trade paper Variety was kind, saying "Gigli" was "a silly but enjoyably written and performed romantic comedy."

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