Box Office: The Decade at a Glance

The Year 2000: May through August

By Michael Lynderey

June 30, 2009

She's the only thing we remember about Mission: Impossible 2.

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By the year 2000, Twister (1996), Deep Impact (1998), and The Mummy (1999) had clearly established that the first ten days of May were indeed the start of the summer movie season. This schedule hasn't been altered since. May 2000 was a solid blockbuster month, with three films becoming big hits (two beyond expectations).

Gladiator was released on May 5th, and became the inspiration for a popular subgenre in the decade's first half: the serious historical epic with no fantasy elements and an attempt, of sorts, at realism. Gladiator opened with $34 million and finished with $187 million, going on to win Best Picture at the Oscars and definitively turning Russell Crowe into a huge star. The second weekend of May certainly didn't take away any of the film's shine - the highest profile of the new films belonged to Battlefield Earth, which totaled $21 million. Battlefield has of course sturdily maintained its reputation as one of the worst movies of the decade, and one of its biggest flops. Was this pre-ordained? Maybe not - initially, Battlefield Earth seemed like it could be an entertaining sci-fi film, and the presence of John Travolta gave it some star power. But in the days before the film's release, all the elements started coming together to ensure that its failure would truly be colossal.

May 19th brought an interesting collection of films. Dinosaur was Disney's entry into CGI animation, after a decade of delivering traditionally animated hits every summer. While the film's gross, $137 million, was not much bigger than its budget, the film was a decisive turning point in the phasing in of CGI. Also released on the same day was Road Trip, a thematic successor to 1999's American Pie - and indeed, that film's Stifler, Seann William Scott, had a key supporting role. Also on hand was Tom Green, at the height of his popularity. The film pulled in $68 million, probably not the best case scenario considering the expectations American Pie set in, but still a decent sum.


And finally, the weekend of May 26th saw Tom Cruise at the very top of his game, with Mission: Impossible II. Coming on the heels of the first film's $180 million total, this one went higher, finishing with $215 million and winning the summer box office sweepstakes. Cruise's star power remained sturdy for a few years more, before weakening somewhat in the decade's second half.

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