July 03, 1989 12:00 PM

There were enough bats and ghosts around town to start a preemptive Halloween, but the sudden enchantment with things that go bump in the night was just a case of boffo summer box office. Faced with two blockbuster movies—Batman and Ghostbusters II—Hollywood played no favorites, showing up to give a big hand at big parties for both.

The bash for Batman began in West-wood, where Eddie Murphy and his bodyguards and Sylvester Stallone and his bodyguards joined dozens of stars muscling their way into two theaters to watch the extravaganza that cost more than $40 million. Also in the audience were “Batman” Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, who plays his love interest, and an amused Jack “the Joker” Nicholson. Then the crowd adjourned to Century City’s 20/20 club, which was turned into a cave for the occasion.

“I loved the movie,” said the very pregnant Mariel Hemingway. “I was taken away by it and turned into a cheering fan.” So was Glenn Close. “It was spectacular!” she said. “A real kick-in-the-ass movie!” Eddie Murphy agreed. “It’s a great picture,” he said. “Nicholson was brilliant. Nobody can mess with him.”

The guy nobody can mess with spent the evening accepting congratulations, while bartenders wearing Nicholsonesque “Joker” makeup circled the floor. Only three months ago, co-producer Jon Peters said, he called Nicholson in to view a rough cut. “We sat through it four times in a row—in its rough form,” Peters remembered. “We knew that we had made something really different and original. I think it’s going to go on to become a classic.”

The Joker was offering no such predictions. “I’m just trying to have a good time,” said Jack. Kim Basinger, daringly attired in lacy black underwear beneath a sheer black dress, had even more modest expectations. “I got through the premiere without a run in my panty hose and without my lipstick getting smeared,” she said. “So for me, it’s a success.”

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