Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2005

By Michael Lynderey

October 26, 2009

Wait, you're telling me you took a role as a mall cop? That'll never work!

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That said, January and February offered us good looks at two important late '00s trends. The first came with the release of the first Tyler Perry movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, on February 25th. This is the title that came out of nowhere to open with $21 million and finish at $50 million, in the process turning aghast the face of box office analysts who had initially ignored it. Perry had seen much success as a playwright in the first half of the 2000s, and his Madea character (the name Madea is a pleasant mangling of "My Dear") had become a popular staple among the church-going African-American demographic that Perry had been assembling on stage (but hey, I like her too). Perry's loyal base came out for his movie debut, turning him into a newly-minted movie star to be reckoned with, not to mention a continuously-working director (Diary of a Mad Black Woman is the only Madea film he did not helm). A finer example of cross-dressing as a box office force I have never seen. Interesting to note that after the film's heavy critical lambasting, distributor Lionsgate has since declined to screen Tyler Perry movies for critics.

2005's first two months also offered us ample demonstration of a new box office reality: the reinvigorated popularity of the horror genre that was going to dominate the decade's second half. Consider that 2005 had seen 28 horror films, loosely defined, achieve wide release - compared to 14 in 2001, eight in 1994, and 21 in 1988 (back when there was another horror boom going, though not as strong as this one). Aside from White Noise's incredible early year take, another random ghost-themed PG-13 movie, Boogeyman, ruled the early February scene, opening with $19 million and ending at $46 million. Just a week before, Robert DeNiro's R-rated thriller Hide and Seek broke out to $21 million (finishing with $51 million). Back then, those were not normal box office results - horror movies did make this kind of money, occasionally, yes - but usually not films so badly reviewed and lacking in distinction - and certainly not so many of them at basically the same time. Boogeyman's studio had at one point even planned a direct-to-video release. But with the success of The Ring and The Grudge, PG-13 horror movies had began to rain down on theaters in bulk for the first time since the rating's invention, and the would-have-been straight-to-video movies of the past several years were transformed into inexplicable high-teen openers.


Not all horror movies broke out, of course - BOP fave Uwe Boll's Alone in the Dark grossed a mild $5 million. But if anyone can be bold enough to make an exception to the rule - it's Boll. Kudos.


March generously added to the 2005 $100 million pool started by Hitch. First, Vin Diesel's domestic disturbance tale The Pacifier was yet another silly comedy to hit it big, following the model of Bringing Down the House in 2003 by opening with a staggering $30m and finishing at $113 million. This was a much-needed hit for Diesel, who branched out into comedy after his two hit action movies (The Fast & The Furious and xXx) were followed by a series of box office disappointments. For whatever reason, this was Diesel's last wide release until 2008. March '05's other three digit grosser was Robots, a CGI extravaganza from the makers of Ice Age; indeed, replicating that film's March 2002 success, it opened with $36 million and legged its way up to $128 million. Not staggering, but a decent success.

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