Box Office: The Decade at a Glance
The Year 2000: September through December
By Michael Lynderey
July 1, 2009
After a fairly weak August, especially by 2000s standards, September didn't really offer a change of pace. The month brought us long-forgotten movies like The Watcher (James Spader vs. Keanu Reeves), Whipped (Amanda Peet vs. the male race), Beautiful (Minnie Driver vs. her career - guess who won?) and the fourth Highlander film, Highlander: Endgame. For once, the title didn't lie, because that was the last anyone would ever see of that kilt-loving franchise, at least in terms of theatrical releases, and until the inevitable reboot (when discussing genre franchises these days, you really have to qualify everything). There were only two notable films September 2000 put on the table: Almost Famous and Remember the Titans. The former remains one of the most critically lauded movies of the decade (though not a hefty grosser, finishing with $32 million). The latter was Denzel Washington's highest grossing film until American Gangster came around, beating it $130 million to $115 million. We have Titans to blame for launching the Inspirational Sports Movie genre, a particularly loathsome type of story which is only now showing firm signs of its inevitable demise.
October was livelier. On the one hand, it had flops like Get Carter (Sylvester Stallone), Lucky Numbers (Lisa Kudrow), Lost Souls (Winona Ryder) and Pay it Forward (Helen Hunt). Not content to kill off careers, this period also saw the release of two franchise killers - the horror sequels Urban Legends: Final Cut ($21 million total, down from the first film's $38 million) and Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 ($26 million, down from the first film's... $140 million). To its credit, Urban Legends did have a nifty final reel cameo by Rebecca Gayheart (speaking of actresses I miss...). As for Book of Shadows - I remember that in late 1999 or early 2000, the producers of the first Blair Witch would issue almost daily threats to make not only the expected sequel, but a prequel, too. To Book of Shadows' considerable credit, its performance averted any chance of the third film in the series ever being made.
Most importantly, though, October gave us an unexpected mega-hit in Meet the Parents. If there were any doubts that Ben Stiller was going to be one of the biggest movie stars of the 2000s, this film certainly erased them. Meet the Parents also marked Robert De Niro's transition from serious actor to cinematic loose cannon - one who would appear in seemingly any project, however unpromising. The movie took its little $28 million opening and parlayed it into a $166 million total, a total gross rarely seen on an October film.