Box Office - Decade at a Glance: May - August 2005
By Michael Lynderey
October 27, 2009
Like June, July was stuffed with a number of smaller films, some of which came through. There was Disney's Sky High, the high school-set superhero sort-of-parody that took in $63 million. Must Love Dogs, a Diane Lane-John Cusack collaboration that proved a decent enough comedy vehicle for both, finishing with $43 million. Terrence Howard, better known after Crash, delivered his Oscar-nominated role in Hustle & Flow ($22 million total), while Billy Bob Thornton played another amusing misanthrope in the Bad News Bears remake ($32 million), which doesn't quite rank up there with his more memorable films. And finally, Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects, a hard-R sequel to his House of 1000 Corpses (2003), took in only $17 million but was an entertaining retro-'70s pastiche nevertheless, with notedly ghoulish performances from long-time supporting actors Sid Haig and Bill Moseley (Sheri Moon Zombie was pretty good, too). In a genre that soon became marked by senseless and sadistic violence (some of it presided over by Zombie himself), Rejects was at least a film that had a bit of wit and character to it.
The Augusts of the 2000s had thus far been divided between typical blockbuster-saturated summer months (2001 through 2003) or moodier, quieter affairs (2004). 2005's edition of the month came off distinctly more like the latter, although the identity of the token $100 million movie ended up being a bit of a bait-and-switch.
August 5th saw the release of just one film, and this one was clearly the month's designated blockbuster: The Dukes of Hazzard, another one in the summer's seemingly endless series of TV show adaptations, paired Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville up with singer/television personality Jessica Simpson, added in some fun trailers and an infamous car-wash music video, and went full speed ahead into the promised $100 million land. But it was not to be - after some heavy critical drubbing, the opening weekend ended up at $30 million - not bad, but it didn't have enough momentum to get to three digits, and the Dukes finished with a sequel-less $80 million gross (straight-to-video sequels don't count).
So would that be the end of the month's $100 million dreams? Nope, because Judd Apatow's The 40 Year-Old Virgin opened on August 19th, coming out of nowhere to take $21 million on opening weekend and then finish all the way up at $109 million. On paper, this might just look like the summer's last hit. But in reality, it was a lot more. First, it turned Steve Carell, then best known cinematically for his supporting role in Anchorman (2004), into a bonafide leading man. Second, it redefined what a comedy could be - adding crass wit and (allegedly realistic) frank talk about sexuality into the roster of the mainstream comedic arena. And finally, it not only set up Apatow as a major director and producer, but formally introduced (or re-introduced) many of the actors who would go on to dominate American comedy in the second half of the decade - for better or worse - Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Leslie Mann, and Jane Lynch. Some of this wouldn't become evident until the summer of 2007, with the rise of Knocked Up and Superbad, two movies that were spawned directly from this one's success.