Box Office - Decade at a Glance: May - August 2005
By Michael Lynderey
October 27, 2009
May finished messin' around with us only on its third weekend, with the release of a film no slump could possibly hope to suppress, as George Lucas completed his prequel trilogy with Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. A marked improvement in quality over its two predecessors, this one bumped the box office back up, finishing with $380 million to Episode II's $310 million (although it couldn't match Episode I's $431 million). The opening weekend was something like $108 million, but if that doesn't break any big records, and it doesn't, does it really much matter?
May 27th - 29th continued dishing out hits, giving us not only Madagascar ($47 million opening, $193 million total) but The Longest Yard ($47 million opening, $158 million total). Madagascar was another CGI excursion modeled directly after Shrek, and performed as such. The Longest Yard, on the other hand, gave Adam Sandler another entry in his eight year-long $100 million chain, along with better reviews than he usually gets. Overall, it now seemed that after the horrors of the early days of summer, everything was back on track at the box office.
But not so. June 3rd was another scary weekend for box office analysts. Once again, a studio put its faith in a two and a half hour historical epic with a star who hadn't necessarily proven themselves as a draw on the summer landscape - and the results were predictable. Ron Howard's Cinderella Man - matching Russell Crowe with Renee Zellweger and tackling the story of a Depression-era boxer - cost just about $90 million to make, but opened with $18 million before totaling at $61 million. Talk about a movie that would have been better suited for the holiday season; such elongated dramatic shenanigans were obviously out of place smack dab in the middle of the summer heat. On the plus side, the movie did nab co-star Paul Giamatti the Oscar nomination that he'd been unfairly robbed of for the previous fall's Sideways.
Things were looking up the next weekend, as the Brad Pitt - Angelina Jolie team-up Mr. & Mrs. Smith took its mix of romantic comedy and action to a surprisingly strong $50 million opening and $186 million total. While I suppose this film is notorious for whatever off-screen reasons, I'd say the noticeable quotient of high-tech action scenes helped it immensely, especially considering the distinct lack of them at this point in the summer (Star Wars excepted). And as previously stated, Angelina Jolie movies always do great in June - you can trace that back all the way from Gone in 60 Seconds to Tomb Raider and onwards to Kung Fu Panda and Wanted. The box office didn't slow down in the next frame - Batman Begins opened on Wednesday the 15th, taking in $15 million on the first day, another $48 million on the weekend, and finally totaling at $205 million. While that made it the highest grossing Batman film since the first one, analysts were still generally disappointed, especially with that opening - but this movie's notability became apparent in the long run, not the short term. After all, the reputation of the Batman series was tarnished with Batman & Robin in 1997, and Batman Begins was seen an experimental reboot of the franchise - a new start that could cannily be taken as a prequel. With the heavy critical acclamation (better reviews than any previous Batman film), this one really hit it off with audiences, and set The Dark Knight up to be the biggest movie of the decade.