Box Office - Decade at a Glance: May - August 2005

By Michael Lynderey

October 27, 2009

And stay out of the third movie!

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But it's not only for that reason that I'd peg the release of Batman Begins as the most notable cinematic event of 2005. The film did something other than bring back the Batman franchise. It introduced a new concept to Hollywood, one that was so breathtakingly simple that it's a wonder no one had come up with it before. It was called The Great Reboot. It went something like this: if we have a popular property on our hands that a lot of people like - let's say, Superman, or Freddy Krueger - there's no particular reason why we shouldn't be making a new film about them every few years, is there? Even if that last one didn't do very well at the box office, or tarnished the franchise in some seemingly unrecoverable way, or killed off an important character? This light bulb-worthy idea extended also to "old" movies like Footloose or the Karate Kid or Red Dawn - or most of the summer of 1984, for example - if people still like those movies so much, it just seems like kind of a waste to let them sit there on the shelf, doesn't it? Shouldn't they be out there in theaters, working for a living?

The answer was yes, and so the previous concept of remaking old black and white '40s movies was replaced with rebooting, or rather, Rebooting, movies and franchises from the '70s, '80s - sometimes even series that had entries released as recently as a few years ago - like Halloween and Friday the 13th. Of course, horror movies started the trend with Texas Chainsaw '03 and Dawn of the Dead '04, but the success of Batman revealed the simple fact that if you make a mistake - like a really bad franchise entry that flops at the box office - you can just press a button and start all over again from the beginning, all sins forgiven. The necessity of toiling away at coming up with some new and untested franchise had been removed. For some, this was a good thing - an alternative for people who didn't like Jim Carrey's mugging in Batman Forever, for example. I, on the other hand, see it as a real-life equivalent of the villain from another soon-to-be-Rebooted movie, The Neverending Story - a humongous invisible entity threatening to make quite a giant sucking sound as it swallows our very recent film history and regurgitates it as it wishes. The Great Reboot. What the eventual result of this could amount to is the freezing of popular cinematic culture into one time period - in this case, around the late '80s/early '90s - to be remade and rebooted and sequeled forever after.


That said, June '05 ended with an old-fashioned remake - star Tom Cruise and director Steven Spielberg teamed up to re-tackle 1953's War of the Worlds, and it wasn't much of a surprise that it took off with a boatload of money - $64 million opening, $234 million total. Some people carped on this one not making enough money - sure, it was no Star Wars III - but it was $100 million more than Minority Report, the last movie from this star/director team, so it was just fine by me. That's especially true considering the rest of the month, a collection of decidedly lower-scale films that felt a little out of place in the big-budget territory of summer: Will Ferrell and Nicole Kidman disappointed with the TV show remake Bewitched (finishing at $63 million); Lindsay Lohan had a minor success with Herbie: Fully Loaded ($66 million), a movie frankly below her paygrade; Hilary Duff, on the other hand, couldn't lift The Perfect Man above $16 million - her second flop in a row; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants did pretty well for what is was, with $39 million; another old TV adaptation, The Honeymooners, totally tanked at $12 million; Robert Rodriguez put out yet another kids movie, the amusingly-named Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3D, which scored way under his Spy Kids series, with $39 million; and the renewed popularity of the zombie genre gave George A. Romero a chance to make another entry in his series - Land of the Dead, a decent film that grossed only $20 million. Romero was the man who began the modern incarnation of the zombie film in 1968, with Night of the Living Dead, but by 2005 his movies were being outgrossed by more modern zombie excursions, like Resident Evil or 28 Days Later.

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