Box Office: The Decade at a Glance
The Year 2000: May through August
By Michael Lynderey
June 30, 2009
While July started out with a minor hit for Bruce Willis (The Kid, with $69 million), the real story was Scary Movie. I remember being denied entrance to this on opening night - not because it was rated R, but because it was sold out. No wonder opening days and weekends have gotten so preposterously big - you try finding a movie that you actually can't get into on opening night. Fat chance. Scary Movie remains the highest grossing spoof ever made, at an incredible $157 million (or $200+ million adjusted). This kind of box office would be absolutely impossible for a spoof to achieve in 2009, and as we go through the decade, we'll see why. The film had two things in its favor - the late '80s boom of spoofs, re-launched by the Naked Gun, had not become as offensively bad as today's batch, and died out in peace around the mid-1990s. So there was no genuine revulsion for the genre on the level that exists today. That sense of revulsion, however, did exist for the slasher film, especially with Scream 3's mixed reception, and so the time was ripe to mock it all. Scary Movie was also the film that gave us Anna Faris. While we've seen Faris here and there in the 2000s, I'd say that she was underused, and being basically date-raped by Seth Rogen in Observe and Report was probably not the best way for her to end the decade. With the exception of Walk Hard, Scary Movie was also perhaps the last genuinely funny spoof made to date. The Wayans Brothers' minor attempt at a return to grandeur, 2009's Dance Flick, at least serves as a sort of closure to what Scary Movie began.
July 14th brought X-Men. This was where another 2000s trend began - it was the first sign that superhero movies could absolutely still be profitable. After the Batman series faded out and many other comic book adaptations (Spawn, The Shadow) received shaky reception in the 1990s, the future of the comic book film was in doubt. But with its $54 million opening and $157 million total (a respectable sum at the time), X-Men changed all that. While I would absolutely credit 1999's Star Wars: Episode I for giving birth to the Fanboy Movie, X-Men was the next logical step, and the confirmation that the Decade of the Fanboy was at hand.
July 21st saw the release of Pokemon: The Movie 2000, a sequel to November 1999's first Pokemon film. The first one pulled in $85 million, while the 2000 version could only muster a little over half that, with a $43 million total. Was this the last film in the franchise? Not even close, but the grosses kept going down, down, down with subsequent films. The third week of July also gave us What Lies Beneath, the last big hit for Harrison Ford until Indiana Jones 4 in 2008. At $157 million, it was a great way for Ford to cap off a decade of mega-hits. It was also one of Michelle Pfeiffer's few early 2000s films; after 2002, she'd take an almost five-year break from the movies. Goodbye, 1990s stars.
The month ended with the Eddie Murphy sequel Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. Murphy had generated a lot of goodwill with his two June hits, The Nutty Professor (1996) and Doctor Dolittle (1998), and went on to skewer both of those away with sequels (Dolittle 2 was to follow next summer). While the film's $123 million total stands up to the original's $128m, generally bad public opinion is what probably ended this series. If the franchise isn't dead, though, please don't tell Eddie Murphy.