Box Office - Decade at a Glance: May - August 2003

By Michael Lynderey

September 23, 2009

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The Fourth of July weekend entries came in something like this - one outright flop, one moderate disappointment, and one modest success that could have done better. The flop goes to Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, and if you couldn't tell by this point that a traditionally animated, '90s Disney-style fantasy wasn't going to do well at the box office, you haven't been paying attention. Costing $60 million, Sinbad totaled all of $26 million, and was understandably DreamWorks' last foray into non-CGI animation. Meanwhile, the film that disappointed in moderation was the critically-maligned Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, which finished with $89 million. This one came off as a little icky because it had such good credentials going into the summer: the first film was a surprise hit ($96 million) beloved by audiences, and its star, Reese Witherspoon, had firmly broken out as a major actress (her previous film, Sweet Home Alabama, finished solidly over $100 million). Finally, the weekend saw Arnold Schwarzenegger cap off his long career as leading man with his last starring role to date - Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines saw Arnie reprise what is pretty much his most iconic character; considering the $200 million+ Terminator 2 generated in 1991, the $150 million part 3 took in was a bit of a letdown, especially since the reviews were pretty good. The Governorship was next for Arnold, and it's hard to say if he'll ever be back as leading man.

The weekend of July 11th was a classic case of expectations reversed. The much-anticipated comic book adaptation, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, faced off against Disney World-inspired adventure Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and it's hard not to say that the best man won. After the failure of the Country Bears, Pirates was coming in with decidedly low anticipation, while the League's prestigious reputation, fan adoration and casting of Sean Connery (in his last live-action role to date) seemed to peg it as a decent summer blockbuster. But it was not to be: The League came under heavy critical and fan vilification, leaving the film with a $66 million total, while the lengthy Pirates became an audience favorite. After opening with $70 million in five days, it had heavy legs, finishing with $305 million and establishing Johnny Depp as both major star and potentially very entertaining character actor. The film also firmly broke Orlando Bloom out from the shadow of the Lord of the Rings films, and introduced then-unknown Keira Knightley to the world of summer blockbusters. One of the biggest franchises of the 2000s was born, and it looks like it ain't over yet for the Pirates, who are threatening their return in 2011.


July 18th trotted out the standard $100 million+ blockbuster - Bad Boys II, your typical overlong, noisy Michael Bay action movie that nevertheless utilized the star powers of Martin Lawrence and especially Will Smith to open with $46 million and finish at $138 million. The weekend's other star vehicles weren't as lucky - Rowan Atkinson had an OK performer with spy spoof Johnny English ($28 million), but Mandy Moore's How to Deal, a follow-up to her Walk to Remember, could only muster up $14 million, putting her status as teen queen in jeopardy. The month finished off with the interesting trifecta of Seabiscuit, Tomb Raider 2, and Spy Kids 3-D. While the Angelina Jolie action-adventure came in last, finishing with an underwhelming $65 million (goodbye, franchise), the other two films did a lot better: Seabiscuit performed like an old-school historical epic, turning its $20 million opening to a $120 million total, and giving Tobey Maguire his one non-Spider-Man hit of the decade. Spy Kids 3-D, on the other hand, saw an increase from the last entry's $85 million, finishing with $111 million. A rare (at the time) 3-D film, you can bet the novelty of the format helped out in heaps here.

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