Box Office - Decade At a Glance: January - April 2001
By Michael Lynderey
July 27, 2009
Outside of the Lopez/McConaughey experiment, the big choice for moviegoers was Hannibal. The ten years that passed between the Silence of the Lambs and this sequel seem to have sufficiently wet audience appetites for Hannibal Lecter, the serial killer with a big appetite, because Hannibal opened with $58 million and finished with $165 million; $58 million was then the highest opening weekend for a horror film, not to mention the then-third highest opening weekend, period (wow! Though I was paying attention to these kinds of things then, I can not now imagine a time when a $58 million opening was considered so massive). The film made Anthony Hopkins sort-of-a-star again, rather than just a popular character actor, and gave Julianne Moore a hefty career bump. The film was incredibly controversial because of its violence - but these days, gently opening a man's skull and having a taste of what's on his mind doesn't seem quite so outrageous. Did Hannibal give birth to the torture porn genre? Not directly, and certainly not considering some of the genre's '70s output, but I'd say there was a definite influence. Inevitability came into play here - Hannibal Lecter would be back on the movie screens in no time - October, 2002, in fact.
Clearly, the rest of February 2001 wasn't going to live up to that cannibalistic behemoth, but Chris Rock did get a decent star vehicle in Down to Earth, which surprised with a $64 million finish (his highest gross as leading man). The Recess movie did okay with $36 million (Recess was a Disney animated TV show turned film; you know, back when Disney put their efforts into something other than campy live-action sitcoms designed to launch singer-actor teen idols who would earn them a decent living before flaming out in a firestorm of perversity and/or bad Sundance movies). The month finished off with flops for two '90s stars - Brendan Fraser (Monkeybone, which tallied an almost unbelievably low $5 million) and Kevin Costner (3,000 Miles to Graceland, at $15 million). Neither one of these guys would really reestablish themselves as solid leading men in the 2000s - but Costner certainly turned in some good character performances, and Fraser headlined a handful of CGI adventures that crawled their way over $100 million.
March 2001 was, I suspect, a month of immense disappointment to some of the actors who entered the fray. First, that fate befell Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt in the Mexican. Marketed as a fun comedy team-up of two A-listers, the film actually mostly consisted of Pitt's solo adventures in Mexico, while Roberts was off participating in a very well written two-character piece (involving herself and choice supporting player James Gandolfini). This evidently wasn't what audiences were looking for, and so the film totaled a low-for-Roberts $66 million after a $20 million opening. Too bad. Enemy at the Gates, a prestigious, vaguely Oscary WWII drama with Jude Law and Rachel Weisz, pulled in a fair if unexciting $51 million. Next, thriller queen Ashley Judd's turn at romantic comedy fluttered out, as Someone Like You could only muster up $27 million. Kirsten Dunst's Get Over It, another high school film, was almost immediately forgotten. And what does one really have to say about gross-out comedies Tomcats and Say It Isn't So, except that to describe them as not the second coming of American Pie would be an understatement of epic proportions?