Box Office: The Decade at a Glance

The Year 2000: September through December

By Michael Lynderey

July 1, 2009

Don't you hate when you're trapped on an island and Fed Ex mails you the wrong volleyball.

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November 2000 started off big, with a movie that could have potentially done even better in the summer - Charlie's Angels, which opened to $40 million and finished with $125 million. This was the film that helped turn Cameron Diaz into a $20 million-a-movie actress, and gave some new life to the TV show-to-film subgenre that took a hit with the failure of Rocky and Bullwinkle earlier in the year. The first weekend of the month also brought along The Legend of Bagger Vance, which remains one of Will Smith's lowest grossing starring roles, at $30 million total. Smith went the serious winter drama route several times more during the decade, with mixed results. Bagger Vance notably marked the last film role of Jack Lemmon, who died the following year; his frequent on-screen collaborator, Walter Matthau, gave his last performance in Hanging Up, earlier in 2000.

The rest of November was littered with big-star flops and one massive hit. The hit was of course Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which remains the highest grossing film for both star Jim Carrey and director Ron Howard, not to mention the highest grossing film of 2000. While this live-action Grinch was of questionable quality (if pressed, one might say it was downright awful), the combination of name recognition, star power, and the holiday season gave this one its $55 million opening and then went up, up, up. Despite the Grinch behemoth, 2000 is, to date, the last year not to contain a single $300+ million grosser. In fact, it may always stay that way (though I'd imagine some random year, like 2033, could take away this record).


Now we come to the flops. There's quite a selection to choose from. How about Red Planet, an $80 million-budgeted Mars movie that pulled in a jaw-dropping $17 million? There's also The 6th Day, which cost about as much as Red Planet and provided Arnold Schwarzenegger with one of this three last pre-Governor starring roles. That film pulled in $34 million, not even out-grossing Arnold's entertaining 1985 Commando. For fans of the tabloid arena, there was Bounce, a combination of then-couple Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck. Despite the buzz and hype, that weepy drama could manage only $36 million. My favorite flop would have to be Little Nicky, because it's such an odd smudge on Adam Sandler's otherwise consistent resume. Coming in after Sandler's $150+ million hits The Waterboy (1998) and Big Daddy (1999), Nicky was budgeted at $80 million and was no doubt expected to continue Sandler's winning streak. Instead, it broke it, finishing with a relatively abysmal $39 million. One has to assume that Sandler learned whatever lessons there were to be taken from this, because as of yet, none of his traditional star vehicles have fallen under a $100 million total (no, Spanglish doesn't count).

And finally, there was a film whose status as a flop is debatable. Unbreakable brought together star Bruce Willis and director M. Night Shyamalan, the duo who took the previous year's the Sixth Sense to $293 million, and then immediately re-united for a follow-up project. The buzz was high and mystery abounded about the film's plot and ending. After satisfying their curiosity and giving the film a $46 million five-day opening, audiences largely abandoned the film to fend for itself and finish just a few million under $100 million. The reason? Negative word-of-mouth spread fairly quickly, and what happened to the film would continue to happen again and again to Shyamalan's output, as his reputation as a director gradually eroded. As someone who didn't see the film until 2007, I'll say that I thought it had an absolutely terrific twist - it's the kind of movie Shyamalan should be making again.

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