Box Office - Decade at a Glance: September - December 2002
By Michael Lynderey
August 26, 2009
But October 2002 wasn't finished yet, at least not when it came to blockbuster horror films. Two weeks after Red Dragon's slight misstep, the Ring turned into an unexpectedly leggy monster. The $15 million opening wouldn't have hinted at it, but the eventual $129 million total did. Can you imagine a horror film having these sorts of legs today? That's a multiplier of over 8.0! The film's relative originality, generally positive reviews, underground buzz, and nice, teen friendly PG-13 rating were the combination that created this particular Frankenstein's Monster. All of today's horror subgenres can be traced back to several key films released during the early 2000s, and the Ring was one of them: it was based on a Japanese film, it featured the slightly digital-tinted ghost of a child, and it wasn't rated R. As such, it inspired not only countless rip-offs (all those evaporating ghost movies), but also remakes of almost any Asian horror film the studios could get their hands on, as well as the increase of PG-13 ratings in horror in order to allow for more teen attendance. Most of the films that followed the Ring weren't worth the effort, and the Ring itself was not good enough to justify all it has brought down on us since its release.
The rest of the October pack was led by Johnny Knoxville's inexplicable cesspool of life-threatening activities: Jackass: the Movie, which came out of nowhere to give box office prognosticators a fright right before Halloween. It opened with $22 million and ended up with $64 million. Inconceivable! None of the month's other happy campers could get past $30 million, and boy, there sure were a lot of them. For action, there was Jason Statham getting his first lead role (the Transporter), Mark Wahlberg proving himself a non-draw again (the Truth About Charlie), Samuel L. Jackson wearing a rather lovely quilt (Formula 51), and a juicy supporting role for Vin Diesel in the gangster drama Knockaround Guys (which was filmed before his big hits - in 1999!). On the romantic end of things, Alexis Bledel was busy messing around with an awfully youthful senior citizen (Tuck Everlasting), Taye Diggs had a decent lead role (Brown Sugar, a modest hit at $27 million), and Adam Sandler dabbled in indie films in Paul Thomas Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love, a well reviewed but abnormally quirky comedy whose $17 million total shouldn't have come as a surprise. On the more dramatic side of things, Katie Holmes flirted with danger (Abandon), Michelle Pfeiffer headlined an all-star female cast in the aborted Oscar drama White Oleander, and Bret Easton Ellis got another little seen adaptation of his work with the Rules of Attraction, which was also the last theatrical release to star James van der Beek. Salma Hayek did score a modest hit with Frida ($25 million), and got what she really wanted: an Oscar nomination. Meanwhile, talking vegetable-fest Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie took in $25 million, surprisingly outgrossing other 2002 TV-to-film translations like the Powerpuff Girls and Hey Arnold!. And finally, Dark Castle Entertainment released the stuck-at-sea horror tale Ghost Ship right before Halloween, but with a $30 million total, this one failed to measure up to some of their previous Devil's Night-era hits. No puny ghost ship could stand up to the big bad Ring.