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Battle of the Biceps

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They huff. They puff. They sweat. They grimace. They pump iron…and hot lead. With damsels clinging to their overdeveloped chests, they race and roar into theaters, where the real battle is at the box office. They are the hunks of summer, and never have their ranks been greater.

The season began with veteran competitor Mel Gibson, PEOPLE’S Sexiest Man of 1985, who was further cited last month by Mademoiselle readers as their ideal man. Matching blue eyes with Goldie Hawn (see preceding story) and appearing butt-naked in several key scenes, Gibson set a hot summer pace as Bird on a Wire opened the weekend of May 18 by selling a boffo $15 million worth of tickets.

Mel soon met tough competition: heavyweight champ Arnold Schwarzenegger. The release of Arnold’s sci-fi Total Recall bumped against Mel’s movie, and both are threatened by forthcoming blockbusters starring Eddie Murphy and Tom Cruise. With action flicks unloading through Labor’s’ Day, here’s the early line on who will be standing when the gunfire stops.

Total Recall (June 1)

Hunk: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Budget: $70 million

His Take: $10 million plus percentage

Last Hit: Twins, 1988

Last Miss: Raw Deal, 1986

Plot: It’s 2084 and Arnold, finding that his brain has been invaded by Martians, gets mad.

Love Interests: Sharon Stone, Rachel Ticotin

Prediction: Arnie will pump this up into the summer’s biggest blockbuster.

Die Hard 2 (July 4)

Hunk: Bruce Willis
Budget: $60 million

His Take: $7.5 million

Last Hit: Look Who’s Talking, 1989

Last Miss: In Country, 1989

Plot: Willis’s Gotham police officer John McClane hunkers down to battle Latin American terrorists at D.C.’s Dulles airport.

Love Interest: Bonnie Bedelia

Prediction: Great special effects will boost movie into the Top 5.

Another 48 Hrs. (June 8)

Hunks: Eddie Murphy, Nick Nolte

Budget: $45 million

Their Take: Murphy, $9 million; Nolte, $3 million

Last Hits: Coming to America, 1988; Three Fugitives, 1989

Last Misses: Harlem Nights, 1989; Everybody Wins, 1989

Plot: Murphy is again sprung from prison by Nolte, who has 48 hours to bring down a drug lord.

Love Interests: None

Prediction: Pair’s popularity will overcome familiar story, propelling flick into Top 3 or 4.

Dick Tracy (June 15)

Hunk: Warren Beatty

Budget: $30 million

His Take: Undisclosed percentage

Last Hit: Reds, 1981

Last Miss: Ishtar, 1987

Plot: Comic hero battles bad guys—and temptation

Love Interests: Madonna, Glenne Headly

Prediction: Madonna‘s sizzle and arty scenery will titillate, but 53-year-old flatfoot won’t nab the $251 million Batman did.

Air America (Aug. 10)

Hunk: Mel Gibson

Budget: $35 million

His Take: $10 million

Last Hit: Lethal Weapon 2, 1989

Last Miss: Mrs. Soffel, 1984

Plot: Renegade CIA pilot flies Vietnam skies

Love Interest: Nancy Travis

Prediction: Tough-guy plot, glut of aviation flicks make for choppy skies.

Young Guns II (Aug. 1)

Hunks: (from left), Kiefer Sutherland, Alan Ruck, Emilio Estevez, Christian Slater, Lou Diamond Phillips

Budget: $14 million

Plot: Billy the Kid (Estevez) rounds up his rebels to thwart evil governor, lawman and cattle baron

Love Interests: None

Prediction: First flick was surprise success; this time, the desperadoes may be desperately seeking an audience.

Flight of the Intruder(July 13)

Hunks: (from left) Brad Johnson, Danny Glover, Willem Dafoe

Budget: $35 million

Plot: Squadron leader, crackerjack pilot and ace bombardier conduct an unauthorized raid over Hanoi in 1972

Love Interest: Rosanna Arquette (Johnson’s)

Prediction: Fast planes, a hot romance, plenty of male bonding make for a solid but not stellar hit.

RoboCop 2 (June 22)

Hunk: Peter Weller

Budget: $25 million

His Take: Undisclosed Last Hit: RoboCop, 1987

Last Miss: Leviathan, 1989

Plot: Metallic hero fends off villains to find his human past Love Interest: Nancy Allen

Prediction: Sleeper original grossed $53 million; will tin-can-hunk gimmick again prove its mettle?

Quigley Down Under (July 13)

Hunk: Tom Selleck

Budget: Undisclosed

His Take: Undisclosed

Last Hit: Three Men and a Baby, 1988

Last Miss: Her Alibi, 1989

Plot: Adventure seeker finds it Down Under

Love Interest: Laura San Giacomo

Prediction: A dog! A dingo dog!

Days of Thunder (June 27)

Hunk: Tom Cruise
Budget: $55 million

His Take: $9 million plus percentage

Last Hit: Born on the Fourth of July, 1989

Last Miss: Legend, 1986

Plot: Stock-car racer blasts around tracks—and across hearts

Love Interest: Nicole Kidman
Prediction: Top Gun on wheels will cross the finish line second.