Box Office: The Decade at a Glance
The Year 2000: May through August
By Michael Lynderey
June 30, 2009
As the summer progressed, star vehicles dominated over brand names - something that wouldn't continue to be true of summer movies in the years since. Martin Lawrence delivered his first $100 million earner with Big Momma's House, while Nicolas Cage's Gone in 60 Seconds also just barely squeezed over the three digit mark. 60 Seconds was Cage's third action movie collaboration with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, after Con Air and The Rock, and was generally considered less successful. It did provide Angelina Jolie with her first summer hit, a tradition she would continue to uphold in the Junes ahead.
June 16th brought along Shaft - and thus I suppose I have to admit, begrudgingly, that reboots of old franchises are by no means a new invention. Shaft delivered $70 million, miles ahead of the box office the 1970s series saw (at least unadjusted). While I'd categorize this total as a win, I'm pretty sure studio expectations were much higher (notice the lack of sequels). Btw, if anyone wants to see a particularly arrogant Christian Bale get his just desserts, this is your film.
Next, the Jim Carrey/Farrelly Brothers team up, Me, Myself & Irene, was a disappointment, considering the track records of those involved; this was the Farrellys' follow-up to their surprise mega-hit There's Something about Mary, and teaming with a star as viable as Carrey increased expectations. But the film only grossed $90 million, a figure that Carrey would surpass in the years since, but the Farrellys would not. In fact, Me, Myself & Irene began the brothers' 2000s decline into films that ranged from minor failures to outright flops.
Mel Gibson was prominent in June, with two films - Chicken Run and the Patriot. The former starred Gibson's voice and was a stop-motion animation from the folks at Aardman Studios; it surprised by grossing over $100 million. Since the film occupied the slot usually held by Disney animation, it was yet another sign that the era of traditional animation was coming to an end. This was especially true because Titan A.E., a $75 million-budgeted animated film from Fox, absolutely bombed the week before, finishing with a meager $22 million.
The Patriot, out on the last week of June, was Roland Emmerich's follow-up to the uber-blockbuster Independence Day (1996; $306 million) and the notorious underperformer Godzilla (1998; $136 million). A three hour epic about the American Revolution is a tough sell - even with Mel Gibson in the lead, and even on the weekend before the 4th of July. So maybe the total gross of $113 million was to be expected. While Gibson would deliver another huge hit later in the year, The Patriot plunged Emmerich into an uncertain decade in which he directed only one outright success (the Day after Tomorrow). The Patriot is also notable for introducing a 21-year-old Heath Ledger into the world of summer blockbusters.
The real winner of that last weekend was the Perfect Storm, a man vs. nature film that showed director Wolfgang Petersen and stars George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg absolutely at the top of their game. Audiences evidently preferred the bad weather film over Gibson's historical shenanigans, and the Perfect Storm finished with $182 million. It was Clooney/Wahlberg's biggest hit to date, and the two continued to flourish during the 2000s.