Box Office - Decade at a Glance: September - December 2002
By Michael Lynderey
August 26, 2009
December 6th more or less gave us the week off from movies, or at least that's how it ended up when Analyze That, the follow-up to 1999's $100 million grosser Analyze This, completely failed to gain any traction, opening with $11 million and finishing with $32 million. There goes that franchise. Worse yet, the film marked the last live-action appearance of Billy Crystal, once a sturdy '90s comedy star. Anyway, we sure needed that weekend off to relax, because the rest of the month never let up. The biggest bruiser shouldn't be hard to guess: the Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers went the opposite route to Harry Potter 2, finishing with more ($341 million) than the first Rings film did in 2001. By this point, Orlando Bloom was quickly emerging as the series' breakout star, and we'd see that illustrated in full in 2003. Meanwhile, Steven Spielberg's well-reviewed match-up with Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio, the '60s-set chase drama Catch Me If You Can, proved to be the film to beat for adults over the holiday season, opening with $9 million on Christmas Day and finishing with $164 million. Clearly, Hanks still had "it". The month's third $100 million title also provided excellent big-star entertainment for adults; Chicago opened in limited release late in the month, and subsequently coasted along on terrific awards-season legs throughout the spring, finishing up with an amazing $170 million and proving that the musical was indeed back in town (thanks go out to 2001's Moulin Rouge! for breaking the door open for what Chicago accomplished). Chicago won Best Picture at the Oscars, and indeed its performance is almost identical to 2001 Best Picture winner a Beautiful Mind (it's a scary coincidence that they both ended up with the exact same total, $170 million). Chicago also heightened the profiles of its stars, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere (who already had a decent year), Queen Latifah, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Other entertainment for adults did well, too, including the nearly identical box office for the hit romantic comedies of Jennifer Lopez (Maid in Manhattan; $94 million) and the tag-team of Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant (Two Weeks Notice; $93 million). The former film was Lopez's highest grossing, and it was a nice recovery for her after the missteps of Angel Eyes and Enough. Bullock was riding high here, too, capping off a good year. Meanwhile, Martin Scorsese's latest gangster film, Gangs of New York, overcame its running time and floppy buzz with some decent legs, ending up at $77 million. Another awards bait drama, the terrific About Schmidt, showed a different side of Jack Nicholson to the tune of $65 million. Not all Oscary dramas were as lucky, but some (the Hours, $41 million; the Pianist, $32 million) did better than others (Narc, $10 million; Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, $16 million). Nicole Kidman continued to get good mileage with the Hours, and the Pianist of course turned Adrien Brody into a fairly well known actor (well, he did win the Oscar). Denzel Washington's directorial debut Antwone Fisher didn't make all that much money ($21 million), but got good enough critical notices.