Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2006
By Michael Lynderey
November 16, 2009
March 17th saw the release of one of the spring's most anticipated fanboy movies - V for Vendetta, Alan Moore's dystopian U.K.-set nightmare, with an English-accented Natalie Portman fighting off a parade of mean-spirited British character actors. While generally well received by critics, the movie opened with $25 million and finished at only $70 million - a disappointment considering some expectations. As with From Hell before it and Watchmen three years later, a Moore property failed to find wide acceptance. There wasn't much out to challenge V - just Jason Reitman's interesting satire, Thank You for Smoking ($24 million total), and the cross-dressing-themed Amanda Bynes vehicle, She's the Man ($33 million). It's odd that Bynes sat out live-action films for three years before this, especially considering that her film What a Girl Wants delivered fairly satisfactory numbers in 2003 - but as we shall soon see, in 2006, she found herself besting the box office of prolific rivals Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff.
The designated hitter for March 24th was another in a long series of Denzel Washington thrillers - the edgy, Spike Lee-directed Inside Man, which teamed Washington with perpetually rising star Clive Owen and frequent box office champ Jodie Foster. The gross was a little higher than most of Denzel's output - $28 million opening, $88 million total - and while Lee brought his typically magnetic style to the picture, Inside Man wasn't really as good as your usual Washington thriller - too much stalling, leading up to an unsatisfactory conclusion. But that's just me.
Speaking of stalling, March ended with a franchise that's entirely consisted of postponing a resolution that never comes - see, I've sat through both Basic Instinct movies, and I still can't tell if Sharon Stone really killed all those people. Really, it seems likely, but then... Anyway, with a total gross of $5 million, it doesn't look like many people were curious enough to attend Basic Instinct 2 to find out. It wasn't the only movie out on March 31st, of course - there was that whole other unnecessary sequel, Ice Age: The Meltdown, which delivered a blazing CGI gross of $195 million (up from the first one's $176 million). You also had urban-set ATL ($21 million total), horror movie homage Slither ($7 million), the self-explanatorily titled Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector ($15 million), and a mild PG-13 video games-will-kill-ya excursion, Stay Alive ($23 million). Ice Age, by the way, was also the entire season's only $100 million movie - slow couple of months, t'was.
April '06 began with a very mixed bag indeed. There was that nice little Antonio Banderas urban dance movie, Take the Lead ($34 million), as well as a much-ignored comedy (Mo'Nique vehicle Phat Girlz, $7 million), a twisty crime thriller (Lucky Number Slevin, $22 million), and one of Jennifer Aniston's Sundance-esque dramas, Friends with Money ($13 million). However, it was The Benchwarmers that came out on top, opening with $19 million and finishing with a strong $59 million. A baseball comedy starring David Spade, Jon Heder, and Rob Schneider, this one demonstrated the box office potency of Adam Sandler's Happy Madison brand (not that anyone really asked for such a demonstration). Another hit comedy menaced theaters on the 14th, when Scary Movie 4 opened to a shocking $40 million but totaled to an even more terrifying $90 million - meaning that, at the time, it was the highest opening film not to reach $100 million. Clearly, after this, the franchise was still potent, so it's hard to say why yet another sequel was never made - maybe the sea of lame spoofs to follow drowned out potential demand for more. Or maybe it was because the movie's funniest scene featured Anna Faris lovingly bathing poor old Cloris Leachman in her own urine. It is hard to pick between the two reasons.
The rest of the month didn't offer anything as big as Scary Movie, but over-long, incomprehensible video game adaptation Silent Hill did pull in a solid $46 million, and the Robin Williams-led road trip comedy RV, at a $71 million total, gave him a very respectable grosser - a number to remind us of his days as a '90s comedy mega-star, even if the quality of the picture didn't. There's a simple explanation for this one's unbridled success: family movies - movies about families, that is - always do very well, especially the kids-aimed PG kind, and this one was no exception.
April actually wasn't a bad month - even the lower grossers were interesting, like the political satire American Dreamz ($7 million total), with Hugh Grant impersonating Simon Cowell, the critically-praised drama Akeelah and the Bee ($18 million), and the first American wide release film to deal with the 9/11 attacks, United 93 ($31 million). I'm a bit less enthusiastic about teen gymnastics-fest Stick It ($26 million), the confusing Michael Douglas thriller The Sentinel ($36 million), and the animated animals-in-the-city adventure The Wild, which finished with only $37 million - notable as one of the first big CGI movies to fail at the box office. But the moment when the gleam would wear off CGI had to come sometime, and April 2006 seems like a perfectly reasonable time for exactly such an occasion.