Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2003

By Michael Lynderey

September 21, 2009

No, you may not borrow my little cap.

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The month certainly started off big: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days broke out, opening with $23 million and finishing with $106 million, making stars Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey presumably very happy. In fact, Hudson had been floundering around purposelessly after her Oscar nomination for Almost Famous, but with this film, she finally found her calling as a romantic comedy lead (though this one remains her highest grosser to date). For McConaughey, the film was a confirmation of what his role in the Wedding Planner (2001) had hinted at - that his appeal as an actor could potentially make some otherwise ungainly romantic comedies very profitable; and so, he'd keep making them. Don't blame the man, blame the box office.

February 14th brought along the comic book adaptation Daredevil, a cautious further step for Marvel Comics after the successes of bigger-name properties like X-Men (2000) and Spider-Man (2002). Fan reception wasn't particularly positive, but the film opened with $40 million and made it to $102 million, buoyed by the star power of Ben Affleck and delicious villainy by Colin Farrell and Michael Clarke Duncan. It was the last solid hit for Affleck, before his descent from A-list leading man status. As a litmus test for lesser-known comic book characters, the film was a plus, but generally negative public opinion is probably what's nixed the existence of a sequel (and so you know what's coming: rebooooooot).


February had one more hit to deliver, and this one really came out of nowhere: Old School, a grown-ups-in-college comedy starring Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, and Will Ferrell, surprised with a $17 million opening and $75 million total. "Historically" speaking, this one was important: it's often cited as the first "Frat Pack" movie, and it established two of the decade's biggest comedy stars, Ferrell and Vaughn. While Vaughn was simply transitioning from more serious films to comedic endeavors, Ferrell's story is a little more unique: like most Saturday Night Live stars, he had branched out into film as both lead (A Night at the Roxbury) and supporting player (Dick, Austin Powers); and, like most SNL veterans, his star vehicles floundered during the late '90s, and he seemed doomed to join his Roxbury co-star Chris Kattan in obscurity. But his casting in Old School changed all that, and brought him not only critical acclaim but a definitive screen persona to expand upon. Next up for Ferrell: his biggest hit, Elf.

Just like the previous year's Return To Never Land, The Jungle Book 2 careened from straight-to-video shelf-filler to surprise modest theatrical hit, taking in $47 million and giving Disney the go-ahead for more sequels or spin-offs from its popular animated films. I guess traditional animation still had some life left in it, if only as a pale imitation of its former self (code words for "sequel"). Elsewhere, the lengthy Civil War epic Gods and Generals took in $12 million, while LA Riots-themed drama Dark Blue ($9 million) gave Kurt Russell a good role, and he can always use one of those. And finally, Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson had a decent hit with the sequel Shanghai Knights, at $60 million, topping the first film by $4 million (every penny counts).

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