Box Office - Decade at a Glance: September - December 2002

By Michael Lynderey

August 26, 2009

What's in his pocketses?

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After the film overload of October, November relaxed a little with the quantity, and brought out the box office quality. The month didn't start out well for I Spy, the Eddie Murphy-Owen Wilson buddy movie and old TV remake that took in $33 million on a $70 million budget. The Santa Clause 2, on the other hand, was a necessary evil for Tim Allen. While Allen's film career took off with the release of the first Santa film in 1994, it had since floundered with box office disappointments like Joe Somebody and Big Trouble. When flops abound, one of the things a star can do to salvage their career is once again take up the mantle of their successful franchises, and so Allen did just that. It paid off - proving that a Christmas movie can be successfully released as early as the first day of November, Santa Clause 2 opened with $29 million and finished with $139 million. That's below the first film's $144 million, but it was still an impressive hit, and Allen was back in the game.

November 8th brought along another box office surprise, as rapper Eminem's autobiographical film debut 8 Mile took off with a $51 million opening and $116 million total, a great early example of extreme frontloading on a large scale. Arriving at the peak of Eminem's popularity, the film was heavily buzzed about for months, and seemed to turn overnight from a wintry awards contender to an outright box office hit. The weekend's other release, the somewhat luridly entertaining Brian DePalma thriller Femme Fatale, nary made a mark, and that's too bad: Rebecca Romjin-Stamos gave a good performance.


Unlike the first two weekends of the month, November 15th was always going to be huge, and was. Harry Potter came back to town, and had no trouble opening with $88 million and finishing with $261 million. Yes, that was noticeably below the first film's $317 million tally, and it was clear why: some of the curious onlookers who went into the first film simply to see what the hype was about didn't come back for the sequel. There was thus a thinning of the herd, as the franchise narrowed itself down to the range it was going to stay in for the next few years. Next, November 22nd was yet another pre-ordained blockbuster day, as Pierce Brosnan played James Bond for the last time. With the help of Halle Berry's semi-nubile presence, Die Another Day actually improved upon previous Brosnan entries, opening with $47 million and finishing with $160 million. It's kind of inexplicable why the Bond-makers felt the need to reboot the franchise - Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace didn't outgross Die Another Day by more than $10 million apiece, and if you adjust the numbers, they probably didn't beat it at all. Sounds like they fixed what wasn't broken.

There aren't a lot of positive things to say about the rest of November (although four $100 million+ movies are good enough for any month, so no complaints there). You had your obscurities, of course, like Extreme Ops (some sort of ski action hodgepodge) or They (an evaporating ghost movie, but before those were all the rage). You had your very expensive flops, like Treasure Planet, Disney's big holiday animation, which grossed a staggeringly insufficient $38 million on a budget of ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY MILLION DOLLARS. And finally, there were the big-star flops, like George Clooney's somber sci-fi tale Solaris, which finished with $14 million (couldn't they have thrown in just one explosion?), and Adam Sandler's critically reviled Eight Crazy Nights, a PG-13 animated film that was too crude and rude for kids. On the plus side (I think), the vaguely Christmas-themed comedy Friday After Next, the third entry in that series, did ok with $33 million (between this, Barbershop, and All About the Benjamins, Ice Cube was having a pretty good year).

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