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

By Michael Lynderey

September 23, 2009

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August

Like the two Augusts before it, August 2003 broke tradition by delivering three $100 million+ hits in the slower days of summer. The first was another sequel, American Wedding - the third American Pie film; it opened with $33 million and finished with $104 million (down from part 2's $145 million), but at least it maintained the series' mix of sweetness and raunch (let's pretend the straight-to-video sequels don't exist). Next, S.W.A.T. propped up its high action-trailers and Samuel L. Jackson-Colin Farrell-Michelle Rodriguez star combination to a $37 million opening and $116 million total. Oddly, this was Rodriguez' last major film until Fast & Furious in 2009. I guess tough-chick roles got pretty scarce after 2003. And finally, the month's third $100 million grosser, tween comedy Freaky Friday, came out of nowhere to ride its overwhelmingly positive reviews to a $110 million total (after a $22 million opening). While the movie gave Jamie Lee Curtis a nice star vehicle, it's more notable for being the one that brought Lindsay Lohan out of TV and firmly into movie star status - a box office superior to Duff and Bynes, at least at that moment.

While not on the same level, August 2003 also spat out a few more decent hits - Kevin Costner's return to his Western roots, Open Range ($58 million) and the long-awaited horror villain mash-up Freddy Vs. Jason ($36 million opening, $82 million total). Freddy and Jason came out of nowhere to win their weekend, but the film's unexpected success didn't really resurrect either franchise (no, latter-day "reboots" don't count). Rather, it was another example of a much-anticipated fan project coming to life, with strong box office results to match. Next, the Brittany Murphy-Dakota Fanning buddy movie Uptown Girls did OK for itself with $37 million, but it wasn't big news then and it certainly isn't big news now.




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The month's flop count was solid, too, led as it was by Gigli, the much-despised $54 million-budget action-comedy that grossed only $6 million, beginning the downward box office spiral for both Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, and earning itself a spot on anyone's list of the decade's most notorious flops. Kate Hudson had another minor disappointment with Le Divorce ($9 million), but this vaguely posh and artsy French-set film was probably never intended to be another romantic comedy hit. Other long-forgotten entries included The Medallion (Jackie Chan), Marci X (Lisa Kudrow/Damon Wayans) and My Boss's Daughter (a rare Ashton Kutcher flop). The month finished things off with Jeepers Creepers II, slotted on the same weekend as its moderately successful predecessor. I guess grossing $35 million to the first one's $37 million wasn't good enough, because the films' villain, "The Creeper" (not his real name?), hasn't been seen grouchily prowling around on screens since. Considering what became of the horror genre in the years that followed, believe me when I say that his presence is vastly preferable, perhaps even downright welcome, in comparison.

We miss you, Creep-o.


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