By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 03, 2003 10:00 AM

Arnold Schwarzenegger will spend his July 4th weekend with U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf, screening “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” for the soldiers and touring stations, the USO tells Reuters.

The military service organization did not specify where the action star and possible California Republican gubernatorial candidate, 55, would be visiting. Schwarzenegger’s spokeswoman did not immediately offer comment to Reuters.

The R-rated “Terminator 3” opened in 2,569 theaters Tuesday — in special previews beginning at 8 p.m. — and was greeted with mixed reviews but strong business, according to the Hollywood Reporter, which reported an opening night gross of $4.04 million.

“The previews were sensational; it’s one of the biggest preview openings of all time,” Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros. (which, like PEOPLE, is part of AOL Time Warner), tells the trade paper.

“The matinee grosses are very strong, and we are looking forward to a very successful holiday weekend,” added Fellman.

Yet New York Times critic A.O. Scott warned readers that the film’s ceaseless cycle of chases and fights threaten their hearing with permanent damage.

As for the leading performance, Scott accuses Schwarzenegger of being guilty of the worst crime movie stars and sports heroes can commit: not knowing when to call it quits.

“The entire performance smacks of that brand of desperation unique to aging narcissists, the ones willing to humiliate themselves in a bid to reclaim past glory,” he said.