Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2005
By Michael Lynderey
October 26, 2009
With half the decade over, 2005 gave us some mid-term re-shuffling of the established roster: say hello to Tyler Perry, Judd Apatow, the horror boom, and the phenomenon known only as the Great Reboot.
January - February
With the heldover Fockers raining their unfunny wrath down on audiences, 2005 gave the second half of the decade a decidedly uneasy start. But box office-wise, January '05 was almost as strong as the now-legendary '09 version. First, colorless horror film White Noise gave the first weekend of the year the highest opening it has ever hosted, taking in $24 million before finishing with a remarkable $56 million. Weekend #2 was headlined by MTV's Coach Carter, a film that turned its stereotypically uplifting storyline and entertaining Samuel L. Jackson performance into a $24 million opening (that number again) and $67 million total. Strong early January performances were an MTV Films tradition began by Varsity Blues in 1999 and repeated again with Save the Last Dance in 2001 and Orange County in 2002; they're a demonstration of a principle that hasn't been tested out often enough: teen movies do really well in January. The same weekend didn't stop dishing out hits, as talking farm animal picture Racing Stripes opened with $13 million on its way to a shockingly strong $49 million. That result betrays another January tradition: the month has a habit of taking random children's movies and turning them into shocking mega-hits. We saw that with Paul Blart this year, and I'd point to January '05's Are We There Yet? as a direct ancestor: here was a completely non-descript, critically-bashed and -trashed, ridiculous-looking comedy that starred Ice Cube (not the most kid-friendly of actors), yet it opened with $18 million (already a little too much) and finished with $82 million. How? Why? Honestly, and just as with Blart, I have to admit complete befuddlement, and surrender in the face of inexplicability. I just don't know. Maybe nobody does. Box office analysts could make some good points about why that film would do somewhat well, but to me, nothing they say explains a total gross that is just so ridiculously massive.
February sent out another big hit, as Will Smith had his third $100 million+ movie in the timepsan of a single year. His romantic comedy Hitch teamed him with Eva Mendes and Kevin James, and opened to a massive $43 million over the pre-Valentine's Day weekend - before spending the next two months working its way up to $179 million, Smith's best total since Men in Black II. This one I don't have to be baffled about: people just love Will Smith, and Hitch was obviously a perfect vehicle at just the right time of year. A more modest success came in the form of Constantine, a supernaturally-tinged comic book adaptation with Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz. The budget was $100 million, so I suppose the $33 million opening and $75 million total may seem underwhelming. But if you keep the price tag right out of your mind, that result's not half bad. Anyway, the months' also-rans included a lame Tommy Lee Jones comedy (Man of the House, totaling at $19 million), a decidedly needless sequel (Son of the Mask, $17 million), an okay little dog movie (Because of Winn-Dixie, $32 million), and a surprisingly effective thriller remake that no one bothered to see (Assault on Precinct 13, $20 million). Debra Messing's star vehicle The Wedding Date did modest business at $31 million, but was thoroughly trashed by fellow romantic comedy Hitch. Disney sent another would-be straight-to-video sequel into theaters, but it's no secret that Pooh's Heffalump Movie ($19 million) was never going to set the box office on fire. And finally, there was Elektra, a comic book adaptation and Daredevil follow-up that seemed like a sure-fire star vehicle for Jennifer Garner - before it finished with only $24 million, that is. Bad reviews, somewhat sour feelings about the Daredevil movie, and a lack of awareness about the character (Electro is probably better known) sunk this one.