Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2004
By Michael Lynderey
October 12, 2009
Next, March 19th saw the release of Dawn of the Dead, a remake of the seminal 1979 zombie film of the same name. Now, if the box office performance of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in October 2003 was what launched the still-strong, torrid torrent of horror movie remakes, then Dawn of the Dead '04 was the film that made sure the wave stayed afloat. It opened with $26 million and finished with $58 million, and worse yet, it was actually pretty good! Clearly, this was a case of the right movie coming out at the wrong time, and inadvertently launching a seemingly irreversible trend. Also out on the third week of March, Taking Lives was Angelina Jolie's attempt to enter Ashley Judd-type thriller territory. That one did okay, with $32 million, but almost every one of Jolie's mega-hits has come out in the month of June, so she really shouldn't dabble in March movies. And finally, the week tossed out the uber-praised drama Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with that serious Jim Carrey performance and Kate Winslet's weird indie-movie hair. Carrey's still a big star, but all the critical accolades in the world couldn't lift a Charlie Kaufman movie like this one above, say, $32 million (coincidentally, that's what it made).
The month finished off with Tom Hanks' delicious villainy in the Coen Brothers' the Ladykillers. Hanks' character couldn't defeat heavyset matriarch Irma P. Hall, and indeed, funny as the movie was, The Ladykillers didn't really overcome its own innate Coen-style weirdness - $12 million opening, $39 million total. If anyone's looking for that point in history when a Tom Hanks movie was no longer automatically guaranteed $100 million - this was it. And finally, the last days of March gave us the heavily-anticipated (by somebody, somewhere) Scooby Doo 2, which pulled in a shockingly solid $84 million (granted, that was still under the first film's $153 million). Doo Deux is notable as the last appearance to date of former teen star Freddie Prinze Jr. in a live-action wide-release. We've yet to get a Scooby-Doo 3, and you sure won't hear any complaints from me about that particular fact.
An unusually busy April was in store for 2004, especially on the genre movie front. The most prominent (and anticipated) was Kill Bill: Volume 2, Quentin Tarantino's considerably less violent grand finale to the gory story he began in October 2003. The first Kill Bill had by this point entrenched itself into pop culture, but Volume 2 didn't improve on its predecessor's box office take - $25 million opening and $66 million total, compared to the first film's $70 million sum. Aside from predictably brilliant work by Uma Thurman, Volume 2 had that great career-redefining performance by David Carradine, positively serpentine as he hissed at Thurman's Beatrix Kiddo: "I'm sorry, was that a question?" Too bad that the best Carradine got out of this was a minor role in the embarrassing Epic Movie (2007) and a cameo in that Jonas Brothers video. After his work in Volume 2, he certainly deserved better, and he will be missed. Elsewhere on the revenge front, comic book adaptation The Punisher wasn't that great, and even the unexpected presence of John Travolta as the Punisher's foe couldn't get this movie past a $33 million total (that didn't stop them from trying again, though). Hellboy, with its cigar-chomping red-tailed comic book anti-hero, did okay as a franchise starter, opening with $23 million and totaling at $59 million. And to finish off the revenge motif, The Rock had another fair but unexceptional performer in his remake of Walking Tall, which mustered up $46 million - about the same as his last movie, The Rundown.