Box Office - Decade at a Glance: September - December 2001
By Michael Lynderey
July 29, 2009
September - October
It feels more than a little irrelevant to churn out movie box office statistics in a write-up of the events of September 2001. But I will say that Ben Stiller's horrible film Zoolander managed an all right $45 million sum, Michael Douglas did well for himself again with Don't Say a Word's $55 million, and Mark Wahlberg proved he wasn't that big a draw with Rock Star, which grossed only $16 million.
October started out with a prototypical Denzel Washington vehicle in Training Day: $22 million opening, $76 million total - that was a box office pattern Washington just kept on repeating in the next few years (though his Oscar win for this role makes a bit of difference). Serendipity gave John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale a decent hit (with $50 million), and the Paul Walker/Steve Zahn thriller Joy Ride was unjustly ignored at the box office (justly or not, that'd be the fate of most of Walker's non-car race related movies). As the month went on, it was clear that there wouldn't be a film to match the previous October's $150 million+ grosser, Meet the Parents. The Spacey/Bridges sci-fi drama K-Pax did take in a respectable $50 million, and the horror movie Thir13een Ghosts did as horror movies do and finished with $41 million, but that's as high as the crop grew. Some flops inevitably came to town - like the urban horror film/Snoop Dogg vehicle Bones, the much-maligned Chris Kattan mob pic Corky Romano, and especially the resolutely unseen On the Line ($4 million!), which gave 'N Sync veteran Lance Bass his one starring role. Riding in Cars with Boys (Drew Barrymore), From Hell (Johnny Depp) and the Last Castle (Robert Redford) were middling grossers for all three bracketed actors.
November 2001 continued the tradition of slotting a big grosser into the first Friday of the 11th month. While it seemed that everyone was waiting for the arrival of a certain boy wizard, Monsters, Inc. had absolutely no problem opening to $62 million and finishing with $255 million. That's Pixar for you! Campy thriller/John Travolta vehicle Domestic Disturbance and sci-fi action/Jet Li-starrer the One both did all right, ending up in the $40 millions. November 9th gave us another Farrelly Brothers film in Shallow Hal; while I wouldn't normally deride the film's $70 million take, it wasn't up to the par of Dumb and Dumber and There's Something About Mary. It was a good leading role for Jack Black, though - his first.
November 16th saw the taking of another sturdy step in establishing fanboyism as a driving box office: the massively-anticipated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone took wing, scoring the biggest opening weekend at the time ($90 million) and a total that remains the franchise's highest ($317 million). Aside from introducing a sizable pack of British character actors into popular culture, the first Potter film loudly announced that adaptations of much-beloved fantasy novels could make for good tentpole releases (Lord of the Rings seconded that notion just a month later). Potter Part 1 was also the highest grossing movie of the year, and the only Potter film to be so honored. It's no surprise that the rest of the month couldn't keep up - the Redford/Pitt team-up, Spy Game, did okay with $62 million, and Owen Wilson piloted the action/thriller Behind Enemy Lines to $58 million. Martin Lawrence, however, had yet another disappointment with Black Knight ($33 million). A big entry in 2001's Oscar sweepstakes, In the Bedroom, was meanwhile quietly grossing its way to $35 million.