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Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2002

By Michael Lynderey

August 24, 2009

Happier days for these two...

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While the adults were floundering, younger stars did a lot better. TV actor Frankie Muniz had his first definitive star vehicle with Big Fat Liar, and the $47 million gross for that one propelled both him and co-star Amanda Bynes into decent film careers, at least for the next few years (Paul Giamatti, playing the villain, was also clearly moving up from relative obscurity). Meanwhile, soapy road trip film Crossroads gave Britney Spears her only big leading role to date. The $37 million it grossed wasn't too far off from the total of Mandy Moore's January film, but generally negative reviews and word-of-mouth are probably why Spears hasn't dipped into the film acting pool again.

The rest of the month had long-forgotten oddities like Queen of the Damned (the second starring role for pop star Aaliyah, released after her death), Super Troopers (the first film from comedy troupe "Broken Lizard"), the dead-on-arrival teen comedy Slackers (which featured Judd Apatow's Jason Segel in an early supporting role), and the much-delayed Rollerball, which cost yet another $70 million and grossed only $18 million, thus derailing the career of one more American Pie alumni (Chris Klein, this time). And, hey, Disney had another hit - their Peter Pan sequel, Return to Never Land, was shifted into theaters instead of its pre-ordained straight-to-video fate. At $48 million, it was the second biggest grosser of the month, so it looks like that theatrical release was a smart decision.




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March

March 2002 started off strong - Mel Gibson's We Were Soldiers, about the early days of the Vietnam War, overcame the already-evident war movie stigma, opening with $20 million and finishing with $78 million. This was Gibson's last year as leading man, although it does look like he's off plotting his comeback right now. Young gun Josh Hartnett wasn't as lucky with his abstinence-themed comedy vehicle 40 Days and 40 Nights, but you could do a lot worse than that $37 million total. March 8th brought along a new version of the Time Machine, delayed from its original Christmas release date. Bad reviews are probably what derailed this film, which fizzled out after a $22 million opening, finishing with $56 million. How long until this is remade again?

March 15th saw the release of Ice Age, the second non-Pixar CGI film to hit it really big at the box office (Shrek was of course the first). Perfectly scheduled around March Break, the movie catapulted a $46 million opening into a $176 million total. After this, every studio wanted into the CGI fray, and the film's production company, Blue Sky Studios, became a major player (aside from the Ice Age sequels, Blue Sky was also behind Robots and Horton Hears a Who). The CGI wars were officially on. Also out on the same day were the Eddie Murphy-Robert DeNiro buddy comedy Showtime (a disappointment at $37 million) and the video-game adaptation Resident Evil. The gross for that latter film, $39 million, may not seem like the franchise-starter that it was, but it was apparently enough to warrant a sequel or two. Resident Evil also turned Milla Jovovich into a sort of B-movie version of Angelina Jolie, but the R.E. films were Jovovich's only real box office successes, to any degree, during the 2000s.


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