Box Office - Decade at a Glance: May - August 2006
By Michael Lynderey
November 17, 2009
The rest of the month's fairly busy output was divided between surprise successes (relative to expectations, that is) and misfires. Trashy teen movie John Tucker Must Die, for example, broke out to a strong-for-the-genre $41 million, and Little Man, the latest opus from the Wayans Bros., somehow ended up as another one of their inexplicable hits, totaling $58 million (that was the one where Marlon Wayans' head was digitally inserted onto a baby's body - I'll leave that one there). The flops were led by M. Night Shyamalan's confusing Lady in the Water, marketed as a "fairy tale" and led by newly-minted audience favorite Paul Giamatti; in typical Shyamalan style, it started out well before degenerating into a mythical morass. The box office played out more or less like the movie itself - starting out with an OK $18 million before dropping, big time, to a $42 million total - down much from The Village (2004)'s $114 million. It was a clear indication that Shyamalan's name had lost its automatic $100 million guarantee. And finally, Warner Bros.' animated adventure The Ant Bully continued the trend of occasional CGI disappointments, finishing with only $28 million.
July's leftovers were Clerks II ($24 million total) and Uma Thurman's superhero comedy My Super-Ex-Girlfriend ($22 million), but since those were fairly little movies, I won't pick on 'em. Besides, Clerks II was pretty good.
2006's August joined 2004 and 2005's versions of the month in being home to only one $100 million grosser. As in 2004, that was the movie that started off the month: the absurdly-titled Talladega Nights: the Ballad of Ricky Bobby exploded to a $47 million opening (higher than expected), eventually finishing with a strong $148 million. As an almost prototypical Will Ferrell comedy (one of his team-ups with John C. Reilly), Talladega made up for occasionally dull bits with some often very funny scenes, and capitalized on its premise - car racing - to turn out a huge demographic of NASCAR fans.
The August 4th weekend had another surprise hit, as CGI's The Barnyard: The Original Party Animals recruited barn enthusiasts everywhere to give itself a $15 million opening and an almost unbelievably leggy $72 million total. At this point in the summer, CGI films had crowded the marketplace, but for whatever inexplicable reason, this one broke out. August had three more decent hits: dance film Step Up ($20 million opening, $65 million total) was another successful entry in the urban music pantheon, and launched star Channing Tatum; Invincible ($52 million total) correctly cast Mark Wahlberg as a comeback-ready football player; and Oliver Stone's take on 9/11, World Trade Center, largely avoided the expected controversy (or at least I think it did) and finished with a respectable $70 million.
Like most Augusts, this one was littered with little movies. You had failed children's comedies, like Tim Allen's superhero spoof Zoom, with its shockingly low $11 million total, and the apparently not quite long-awaited adaptation of How to Eat Fried Worms, which finished at $13 million. You had your raunchy comedies, like the Justin Long-led Accepted, with that not bad $38 million total, or Broken Lizard's Beerfest, with a Lizard-high number of $19 million. There were the curiosities, like Outkast's musical period piece Idlewild ($12 million), Edward Norton's supernatural historical drama The Illusionist ($39 million), the PG-13 Asian horror movie remake Pulse ($20 million), and Robin Williams' excellent performance in the dark drama The Night Listener ($7 million). And finally, August was home to Hilary Duff's thus far last starring role in a wide theatrical release, the distinctly awful Material Girls, which finished with $11 million; that means that, in 2006, Duff's box office came in third in the teen queen sweepstakes, losing to Bynes at #1 and then Lohan at #2.