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Box Office - Decade at a Glance: September - December 2005

By Michael Lynderey

October 28, 2009

These bears would go on to be stunt doubles in The Golden Compass.

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October

October '05 saw no fewer than 18 films escape incarceration and go into wide release, but only three of them broke out of this cinematic monster mash and finished with more than $35 million. The month's first weekend spotlighted one of them, as British claymation epic Wallace & Gromit: the Curse of the Were-Rabbit opened with $16 million and totaled at $56 million. None of that weekend's other titles inspired particular interest - not the effective Cameron Diaz/Shirley MacLaine drama In Her Shoes ($32 million total), nor the surprisingly entertaining McConaughey-Pacino mash-up Two for the Money ($22 million), and especially not the Ryan Reynolds comedy Waiting ($16 million). Christian drama The Gospel did fairly well for a small release ($15 million), while George Clooney's black-and-white drama Good Night and Good Luck. took its excellent David Strathairn performance to an eventual total of $31 million, riding high on Oscar legs.

Week two of October recorded three losses out of three tries. First, Cameron Crowe's dramedy Elizabethtown finished with only $26 million, further negating Orlando Bloom's status as leading man. Meanwhile, his Pirates co-star, Keira Knightley, headlined the noisy Tony Scott action film Domino to the total of $10 million (and on a $50 million price tag, to boot). And finally, proving that not all PG-13 horror films are created equal, The Fog - a rehash of a far superior 1980 film - was the first post-Chainsaw horror remake to disappoint at the box office, opening with $11 million and finishing with $29 million (kind of leggy for a really bad horror film, there, actually). I'd like to say that this performance slammed the door shut on the painstakingly comprehensive process of remaking every notable '70s and '80s horror film - but it did not.




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Week three threw even more movies out there into the world, to no discernible effect. You had wintery Oscar-bait (North Country, $18 million total), a Dakota Fanning horse epic (Dreamer, $32 million), an obscure if vaguely interesting teen movie (Kids in America, $1 million), a weird if occasionally effective Ryan Gosling thriller (Stay, $3 million), and finally, a $60 million-budget version of a once-popular video game (Doom, with its $15 million opening and thus amazingly frontloaded $28 million total). While Fanning was actually on kind of a roll here (what with Hide and Seek and War of the Worlds adorning her 2005 filmography), the exceedingly ordinary Doom proved to be the lowest grossing entry into The Rock's hit-and-miss career as leading man. That said, October ended with a bang. Brushing aside Uma Thurman's well-written dramedy Prime ($22 million total), yet another acerbically funny Nicolas Cage film (The Weather Man, $12 million), and even the almost certainly-unneeded sequel to Zorro (The Legend of Zorro, $46 million), audiences embraced the movie that came out of nowhere to become the month's biggest box office breadwinner:

Saw II was released on October 28th, shocking all by opening with $31 million and eventually totaling at $87 million, going way up from the first film's $55 million. It's the rare 2000s horror sequel to outgross its predecessor, but Saw II was a traditional horror follow-up in every sense of the term, taking the would-be claustrophobic and minimal setting of the first film and upping everything in typical sequel style - even more characters trapped in a maze of death, a bigger barrage of elaborate traps, and needless to say, gorier and more gruesome happenings. Somehow, Saw became the definitive horror series of the 2000s, and the first one to feature so many sequels since that 1980s trifecta of Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. And what a contrast it was to the tame big-studio horror of the 1990s - the Saw films carried with them silly if occasionally clever plotting, almost-offensively outrageous on-screen cruelty and dismemberment, and an unapologetically obvious low-budget. Saw II also turned Tobin Bell, a bit player in the first film, into undisputedly the decade's most recognizable new horror villain - John Kramer / "Jigsaw", a particularly talky, faux-moralistic descendant of Freddy and Jason, whose nickname reflects what is easily the least interesting characteristic about him (I like to call him John Saw).


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