Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2002
By Michael Lynderey
August 24, 2009
2002 didn't introduce as many trends and biggie franchises as the previous year, but it did give us another opening weekend record, as well as what is arguably the most unexpected box office performance of the entire decade..
January - February
January got 2002 off to a good start, as a few decent hits arrived to ring in the new year. MTV Films continued their tradition of releasing a teen movie on the month's second weekend - this year's model was Orange County, a light comedy with Colin Hanks and Jack Black. The film opened to $15 million and finished with $41 million - a good sum, but below the lofty performance of Save the Last Dance on the same weekend in 2001. For Jack Black, it was another well-reviewed comic role, and a big step on his path to stardom. Colin Hanks, on the other hand, never really broke out as a teen movie lead (in fact, he wouldn't be seen in another big movie until King Kong in 2005). The third weekend of the month brought out an even bigger hit, as Disney's good-natured family film Snow Dogs catapulted to an amazing $81 million after opening with $17 million. What was the secret ingredient here? As you may have guessed, it wasn't the presence of Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the lead. Rather, it was that age-old unwritten box office rule that gets proven as true again and again and again - when you put a lot of cute, furry animals in a movie's poster and trailer, said movie is going to make a lot of money, and that's all there is to it. G-Force was not a fluke.
The last weekend of January featured a hodgepodge of films targeting different audiences. Weepy romance a Walk to Remember was another teen movie hit (it finished with $41 million, same as Orange County), and gave star Mandy Moore leading woman status, if only for a while. The Count of Monte Cristo was a well-reviewed historical adventure, and gave Jim Caviezel one of his best grosses, with $54 million. The loopy Richard Gere-Laura Linney thriller, the Mothman Prophecies, did okay with $35 million, but that was before the time when any PG-13 horror story was seemingly contractually obligated to gross untold millions, regardless of how uncommercial it may have initially seemed. The bizarre martial arts parody Kung Pow!: Enter the Fist also came to town, but the less said about that one the better.
February had only one big breakout hit - Denzel Washington's John Q. Washington was riding high on his Oscar nomination for Training Day, and this somewhat audience-manipulating hostage-crisis thriller had no trouble opening to $20 million and finishing with $71 million - a typically masterful Washington gross. While Denzel was riding high, other leading men weren't so lucky. Arnold Schwarzenegger had his second-to-last starring role to date with Collateral Damage, but the fighting-the-terrorists angle wasn't enough to overcome middling reviews, so a $40 million total is all that became of this. That number was probably looking pretty good to Bruce Willis, whose excellent war movie/courtroom drama mix Hart's War took in only $19 million. Both of these films were budgeted at over $70 million, no doubt to the everlasting regret of their makers. And finally, Kevin Costner's supernatural thriller Dragonfly grossed only $30 million. That would usually be a disappointment, but this number fit in all too frighteningly well with some of Costner's previous films. Nicole Kidman's Birthday Girl took in $5 million, but this unconventional, low-budget thriller was probably never intended for higher shores anyway.