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Box Office - Decade at a Glance: September - December 2003

By Michael Lynderey

September 24, 2009

We may never know the wacky tobacky that Gandalf was smoking.

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December

There's not much of a debate as to which film ruled over the winter months: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King entered the Harry Potter-less season with everything going for it, and what played out was, appropriately enough, a coronation. It had a $124 million five-day opening, took in $377 million total, and won the Oscar for Best Picture. So, with that one out of the way, how did the rest of the month muster up?

Not that badly. While no other movie really broke out as an uber-blockbuster, three films did cross $100 million. The first, Tom Cruise's historical epic The Last Samurai, did pretty well with $111 million (not Cruise's best work, but it'll have to do). Next, Diane Keaton made a glorious cinematic return in Something's Gotta Give, teaming up with Jack Nicholson for a dose of funny and smart middle-aged romance. This one struck a chord, opening with $16 million and finishing with $124 million (now those are some holiday legs!). And finally, Steve Martin starred in Cheaper by the Dozen, which played out like a cheesier version of his own film Parenthood, and turned its $7 million Christmas Day opening into a $138 million total. Clearly, when it comes to family comedies, Martin's your man to beat.




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While not $100 million makers, Tim Burton's entertainingly loopy fantasy Big Fish did string up $66 million, while Miramax's latest historical epic, Cold Mountain, rode its star power (Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Renee Zellweger) to a $95 million total, and an Oscar for Zellweger. Julia Roberts' Mona Lisa Smile finished with $63 million, but one can reasonably assume expectations were probably higher. Other high profile entries weren't so lucky. The Farrelly Brothers' conjoined twin comedy, Stuck On You, finished with only $33 million, despite the presence of Matt Damon. The lavish, big-budget treatment of Peter Pan stalled at $48 million, and was mostly ignored by a public unconvinced by some attractive trailers. The Ben Affleck-Uma Thurman action team-up Paycheck could only gnaw off $53 million; that's not bad, but Affleck needed a bigger hit to drown out memories of Gigli. And finally, Nick Cannon's Love Don't Cost a Thing came in at $21 million, about $30 million below his previous December movie, Drumline.

Meanwhile, on the down-low, smaller films carved out a space of their own. Cheerful British comedy Calendar Girls marched its troupe of middle-aged semi-nudes to $31 million, and Charlize Theron's thoroughly convincing portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos (Monster) finished with $33 million, and better yet, netted her an Oscar for her troubles. Other well-reviewed dramas playing around town included 21 Grams, House of Sand and Fog, and In America, but their reward was Academy Award nominations, not box office, and by that standard, they did just fine.


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