Box Office - Decade at a Glance: May - August 2006
By Michael Lynderey
November 17, 2009
The saga of summer 2006 basically consisted of one movie after another entering the blockbuster ring, disappointing on most levels, and leaving with its tail behind its legs (but as always, there is one staggering exception). May's first movie certainly followed that blueprint: Mission: Impossible 3, the highly-anticipated (I think) follow-up to one of 2000's biggest films, opened with $47 million and followed with a generally disappointing $134 million total - all despite good reviews, J.J. Abrams' slick refurbishing of the series, and the all-too-briefly villainous presence of then-recent Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. While these numbers were often blamed on public dissatisfaction with star Tom Cruise - whose last $100 million starring role to date was this - I suspect the raison d'failure here had more to do with the so-so reception that Mission: Impossible 2 got, and the too long six year distance between sequels. In any case, MI3's numbers must have seemed awfully enviable to May 12th's designated blockbuster, overturned boat-set disaster movie remake Poseidon. While the plusses here included a decent cast (led by Kurt Russell), some nifty-looking special effects, and direction by expert helmsman Wolfgang Petersen, the movie was firmly thrashed by critics, and never recovered. After a $22 million opening, Poseidon finished with only $60 million - a number that stands in stark and depressing contrast to the $160 million budget.
May 19th picked up the pace a little, with the release of one of the year's most anticipated movies. Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code had spent the previous few years ascending to the literary throne as a much-cheesier companion to fellow book blockbuster Harry Potter, and so it was only a matter of time until it got its requisite screen adaptation - and one directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, no less. Clearly, this combination could result in an unstoppable box office cocktail, and initially, this was the case - Da Vinci opened with a $28 million first day and $77 million weekend, but eventually dropped off for a total gross of "only" $217 million. Da Vinci could have been a much bigger film - could have won the summer, maybe - but the movie itself turned out to be sort of ridiculous, in a way that was evidently more obvious than it was in book form, and that cost it. The same weekend also had room for another hit CGI concoction, Over the Edge, which trampled over April's similar The Wild to the tune of a $38 million opening and $155 million total.
While the first few weeks underwhelmed, May's end threw out one solid blockbuster with X-Men: The Last Stand, which opened with a startling $102 million (to the last film's $85 million) and finished with $234 million, making it the highest grossing film in the series - something even the incredible frontloading of that opening weekend couldn't stop. Considering the fairly weak slate of summer blockbusters, X-Men 3 is easily my favorite of the bunch, what with its lean and efficient storytelling and consistent sense of summertime excitement. This one usually gets trashed on the Internet, though, so I know I'm in the minority here. OK with me.