Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2004

By Michael Lynderey

October 12, 2009

Merry Christmas indeed.

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January

While Lord of the Rings was obliterating the box office for the last time, 2004 started off with a surprise of its own: the Ben Stiller/Jennifer Aniston team-up Along Came Polly outdid expectations, opening with $27 million and finishing with $87 million after a fairly leggy run. For Stiller, this was the first real success since Zoolander, and only the opening chapter in what would be a massive year at the box office. For Aniston, it was another solid performer after 2003's Bruce Almighty, and ample evidence that she'd be the one "Friends" cast-member who's stick around as movie leading woman after the show's end. The month's other decent hit belonged to Ashton Kutcher, whose interesting sci-fi thriller The Butterfly Effect opened to $17 million and finished with $57 million - certainly a bout of decent legs for the genre. Also off the bench was You Got Served, the first non-descript urban dance movie to really break out after Save the Last Dance - opening with $16 million and finishing with $40 million. While this was a subgenre that was constantly and consistently mocked by box office analysts throughout the decade, the numbers such films occasionally pulled in certainly prove the whole "sticks and stones" theory true.

The rest of the month dished out a bevy of now-obscure titles, like caper comedy remake The Big Bounce ($6 million total), vaguely entertaining biker-action hybrid Torque ($21 million), Disney animated TV show adaptation Teacher's Pet ($6 million), and the uncomfortably-titled My Baby's Daddy ($16 million). Scarlett Johansson had her first post-Lost in Translation wide release with The Perfect Score, a teens vs. SAT film that ended up with a meek $10 million. Times weren't any better for Mandy Moore, who followed up her summer '03 disappointment How to Deal ($14 million) with another sprightly teen-aimed role in Chasing Liberty, which finished with a disheartening $12 million. And finally, Kate Bosworth teamed up with TV stars Topher Grace and Josh Duhamel for the sweet '50s-style romantic comedy Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!, which couldn't overcome its ungainly title and ended up with only $17 million to show for itself. Too bad. That was a nice little movie.




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February

February 2004 was dominated by a breakout box office behemoth so gargantuan that the rest of the month seemed like putty in its hands by comparison. Yes, The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson's controversial version of the crucifixion, became the highest-grossing R-rated film ever, opening with $125 million over five days and finishing with an astounding $370 million. An example of grassroots marketing at its most effective. The Passion is also the highest grossing movie released between January and April (any January and April, that is), and that's likely to stay the case for the foreseeable future.

Dwelling way below on the box office charts was everything else. But hey, Adam Sandler had another notch in his $100 million belt with 50 First Dates, a clever if crude little romantic comedy that re-teamed him with Drew Barrymore just in time for Valentine's Day, and a solid $120 million total. Next, Kurt Russell turned in another well-received performance in inspirational sports movie Miracle, which did as such movies do - and that's pretty well - pulling in $65 million. September 2002's $75 million-grossing Barbershop had its sequel, aptly named Barbershop 2, which totaled at a respectable $65 million (there was no Barbershop 3, although we did get a Beauty Shop in 2005).


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