Box Office - Decade at a Glance: May - August 2002

By Michael Lynderey

August 25, 2009

He's king of the world...or the girder, anyway.

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June 28th didn't exactly save the best for last, at least quality-wise. Adam Sandler's widely-panned Capra remake Mr. Deeds opened with $37 million and finished with $126 million. Sandler would subsequently star in at least one $100 million-grossing film for every consecutive year, up until and including 2008, when he had two; Judd Apatow later made sure that the streak would end in 2009, which became a $100 million-less year for Sandler after Funny People underperformed. Thanks, Judd.

Aside from the big bruisers, June laid egg to some distinct box office failures. Some, like the Hey Arnold! movie or the cross-dressing expedition Juwanna Man, were doomed probably from the start. But Windtalkers, John Woo's big WWII film with Nicolas Cage, may once have seemed like a good idea. But by the time of its release, war movies had been all but worn out, and the distinctly unenthusiastic reviews didn't help either. It was a $14 million opening, $40 million total for Windtalkers. The statistic that really kills it was the budget: $115 million. That's an awful lot of money.



So-called "Big Willie Weekend" struck back in 2002, as Will Smith headlined Men In Black II, his fourth big Fourth of July movie (after Independence Day, Men In Black, and Wild Wild West). Smith's previous two films, the Oscary fall releases Legend of Bagger Vance and Ali, failed to reach the $100 million mark, but Men in Black II would put Smith onto the same path as Sandler was going onto - Smith would star in at least one $100 million-grossing film for every year from 2002 to 2008 (2009, a year burdened with no Smith movies at all, finished off the trend by default). Smith's films ended up on the higher end of $150 million, while Sandler's were on the lower, so Smith was the bigger star. Anyway, as for MiB II, it was panned, panned again, and panned some more, and with its $192 million total (down from the first film's $250 million), considered a disappointment on most levels. That's probably why we haven't seen another sequel (not that I'm complaining).

July stayed out of the outright blockbuster arena until fairly late in the month. Instead, audiences were attacked by another batch of films that seemed sort of out of place in a season usually chock-full of hot-buttered popcorn movies. There was 1930s gangster drama Road to Perdition, Sam Mendes' follow-up to American Beauty. Perdition was based on a graphic novel, but don't let that fool you - reviews were impeccable, the running time was gargantuan, and the movie proved once again that star Tom Hanks retained the audience's trust. The film opened with $22 million and turned that into a $104 million total gross. The same good fortune didn't befall another big '90s star, Harrison Ford, who headlined the somber Soviet submarine movie K-19: the Widowmaker. A big-budgeted ($100 million!), nearly two-and-a-half hour foray into foreign historical drama, the movie probably didn't have a chance anyway, but the somewhat middling reviews killed it. It opened with $12 million and finished with $35 million, putting Ford into the non-$100 million rut he was to reside in until the next Indiana Jones film. And isn't it amazing that Like Mike, a silly basketball comedy star vehicle for rapper Bow Wow, managed to thoroughly outgross Ford's submarine misadventures? Yup, Bow Wow's film walked away with $51 million earlier in July. I guess size really doesn't matter.

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