Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2006
By Michael Lynderey
November 16, 2009
Another surprise breakout hit came on February 17th, when dog-rescue pic Eight Below virtually replicated The Pink Panther's performance, belying its mild $20 million opening with legs that added up to an $81 million finish - the highest total for star Paul Walker, outside of those Fast and Furious movies, that is. This one got decent reviews, but the only plausible explanation for its success is that mantra I bring up in pretty much every year write-up: if you put a lot of cute, fuzzy, furry, woolly, adorable animals in your film's trailer, on the poster, and presumably, in the movie itself, said film is going to do very, very well at the box office. Call it the luck of the mammal. The weekend's remaining net worth was divided between Julianne Moore-Samuel L. Jackson team-up Freedomland ($12 million total) and the groanable shenanigans of Date Movie ($48 million). Up until that point, spoofs hadn't really seen the light of day in the 2000s outside of Not Another Teen Movie and the three Scary Movie films, but Date Movie heralded the arrival of the bad spoof trend that would last until late into 2008. No need to thank it.
February '06 finished off by emulating February '05, with the weekend divided between a hit Tyler Perry movie (Madea's Family Reunion) and two also-rans (Doogal and Running Scared). Doogal was some animated thing that even I can't tell you much about, but Running Scared was an intriguing little thriller, with an effective Paul Walker performance (it's strange that the financial success of Eight Below and the positive notices for Running Scared didn't really resurrect Walker's career). As for Madea's Family Reunion, Tyler Perry's directorial debut, it was a confirmation of what the success of Diary of a Mad Black Woman in 2005 had suggested - that Perry's stage audiences would follow him to the movies, sometimes to the tune of exceptional box office numbers. And putting Madea in the forefront only upped the gross, to a $63 million total from the previous year's $50 million. Lionsgate Films had a franchise on their hands here.
Almost every weekend of March 2006 played out a similar scenario - a high-profile title with $100 million potential is released, but receives only mixed notices and peters out before getting to the three digit mark (all except for Ice Age 2, of course). First, after a few years where March started off with some big movies, the first weekend of March '06 slowed down the pace considerably, with a mild Bruce Willis thriller (16 Blocks, $36 million total), a weird an' wacky Milla Jovovich sci-fi extravaganza (Ultraviolet, $18 million), and Aquamarine ($18 million), which combined girl power, tweens (including Emma Roberts and singer JoJo), mermaids (long-haired starlet Sara Paxton), and some lovely Australian scenery, to no particular box office avail.
March 10th doled out another Tim Allen-Disney team-up, The Shaggy Dog ($61 million), as well as a particularly critically-maligned Sarah Jessica Parker-Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy (Failure to Launch, $88 million), and just one more horror remake, The Hills Have Eyes, which did pretty well for itself with $41 million. That latter film stands as one of many 2006 horror hits (the year saw the wide release of no less than 29 horror films, up a little from 28 in 2005), and as yet another entry in the sadly prolific torture porn subgenre (the original film already had plenty of potential for cruelty, and so the remake didn't skimp on that potential). Next, not much need be said about the Tim Allen film (though I do hear that Robert Downey, Jr. was funny in it), but Failure to Launch ought to be noted as an absolutely prototypical McConaughey hit, and its success should more than explain why he keeps appearing in them (it was also a strong career boost to Sarah Jessica Parker, who in the last few years fully made the transition from television back to film).