Box Office - Decade at a Glance: September - December 2004
By Michael Lynderey
October 14, 2009
CGI reigned again as the holiday season began (c'mon, we all know it starts November 1st). Pixar's superhero parody (?) The Incredibles broke out to an amazing $70 million opening and $261 million total, one of the strongest first-week of November films ever. But the $100 million club didn't stop admitting members there - Jerry Bruckheimer's National Treasure capitalized on the Da Vinci Code-induced interest in relic-hunting (if that's the term for it), opening with $35 million and finishing at $173 million, thanks to some holiday legs. Meanwhile, Robert Zemeckis' amazing-looking Christmas film The Polar Express recovered after an OK $23 million opening, eventually ending up at $180 million. This was the fourth CGI film of the year to cross $100 million, a clear sign that the wave of computer animation was going full speed ahead.
The rest of the month was more hit-and-miss. The SpongeBob SquarePants movie got as far as $85 million - now that's a hit. Johnny Depp gave another memorably quirky, if a bit more Oscar-baity, performance as Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie in Finding Neverland, which totaled at $51 million thanks to awards-season legs. The month's misses were interesting - the Bridget Jones sequel reunited the first film's cast, but bad reviews sentenced it to a mere $40 million total, below the first film's $71 million. Oliver Stone's $155 million-budget Alexander could be taken as the year's third, and most definitive, blow to the 2+ hour historical epic, finishing with $34 million, below the totals of Troy and King Arthur. Not good for stars Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie (whose movies, as I have carefully explained before, always do better in June). Finally, Jude Law's interesting work in the remake Alfie was left behind, finishing with an unsatisfying $13 million, while the fifth Chucky movie (Seed of Chucky) ended up at only $17 million, below the much more entertaining Bride of Chucky ($32 million in 1998). Good ol' Chucky was obviously out of place in the mid 2000s, and so I fear that Child's Play remake is coming down the track any year now...
Anyway, when it comes to November 2004, I just had to save the worst for last. Yes, it grossed $73 million, but the Tim Allen-starring comedy Christmas with the Kranks has to rank down there with Eight Crazy Nights and Surviving Christmas as one of the most knuckle-headed holiday films of recent years. It's interesting that 2003 gave us three of the best Yuletide-themed movies ever made - Love Actually, Bad Santa, and Elf - while 2004 had such an unbalanced slate - on the one hand, the visual and emotional masterwork that was the Polar Express, but on the other, the low-brow comedy and incomprehensible misadventures of both the Krank family and Surviving Christmas (which, to its defense, actually came out in October).
With the Lord of the Rings movies finally out of the way, the fifth December of the 2000s was left without a clear effects-filled blockbuster to dominate the proceedings. But something had to take its place, and I think most people would agree that 2004's holiday mega-hit didn't quite live up to Peter Jackson's standards: