Box Office - Decade at a Glance: May - August 2003
By Michael Lynderey
September 23, 2009
As for May 23rd - another week, another $200 million movie. After delivering the #1 film of 2000 with the Grinch, Jim Carrey had fallen into a bit of a box office rut with '50s period piece the Majestic. The solution? Go back to his box office roots, and make Bruce Almighty, a fun little B-movie comedy that got decent reviews and broke out with a $67 million opening and $242 million total. This was Carrey at the absolute peak of his ability - delivering massive numbers on the combination of his name and a catchy premise. The same weekend saw the release of the Albert Brooks-Michael Douglas team-up The In-Laws, but no one really cared about that one. $20 million total, same as Zellweger's movie.
You'd think that three $200 million+ titles would be enough, but oh no. May 2003 wasn't done yet, because the fifth weekend topped all four of its predecessors - Finding Nemo, the latest universally-acclaimed, impeccably animated Pixar film, easily won the summer - $70 million opening and $339 million total, making it Pixar's highest grossing. Not to be outdone, the title opening opposite Nemo refused to settle for being an afterthought - with its good reviews and acceptable star power (Charlize Theron + Mark Wahlberg), heist-thriller The Italian Job opened with $19 million and totaled $106 million, a figure that correctly implies some remarkable legs. Rumblings of a sequel have been heard since just about May 31, 2003, but it's looking more and more like one of those never-was projects. Also opening was horror flick Wrong Turn - not much to write home about ($15 million total), but for a horror movie with a no-name cast and little buzz, it didn't do that badly. An omen of things to come.
Looking back at June 2003, one is struck by its utter and complete inability to come anywhere near the previous month's stunning results. After one of the strongest Mays of the decade, we got one of the weakest Junes (hey, there must be balance in the universe). We have three $100 million earners here, but each one was a disappointment in more ways than one - 2 Fast 2 Furious ($127 million), Hulk ($132 million) and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle ($100 million). 2 Fast disappointed because it was a Vin Diesel-less sequel with a corny title and a gross lower than its well-received predecessor's $144 million. Hulk disappointed because it broke the streak of well-received Marvel Comics adaptations - sure, it crossed $100 million, but the budget was over $135 million, and many reviewers were decidedly unhappy with the film. And finally, after the first Charlie's Angels became such a breakout hit in 2000, the bombastic sequel's $37 million opening and one-o-o flat total sure weren't going to impress anyone.
The rest of the month didn't paint any prettier a picture, alternating between expensive flops (Harrison Ford's Hollywood Homicide - $30 million intake on a $75 million budget) and fairly cheap ones (the Jim Carrey-less Dumb and Dumber prequel and the American-Idol inspired, and long-forgotten, From Justin To Kelly). Rugrats Go Wild finished with $39 million, thus ending the theatrical incarnations of both the Rugrats and the Wild Thornberrys. Elsewhere, Kate Hudson's romantic comedy Alex & Emma disappointed with a $14 million total. But June 2003 did have one modest hit, if on a lower scale - Danny Boyle's bleak, low-budget zombie tale 28 Days Later broke out to a decent $45 million total gross and heavy critical adoration, inspiring the resurgence of the post-apocalyptic wasteland movie and the creation of the virally-infected "fast zombie" subgenre. Between this and the previous year's Resident Evil, zombie movies were definitely back in town.