Box Office - Decade at a Glance: September - December 2006

By Michael Lynderey

November 18, 2009

Borat's first ride on a Sybian went about as well as expected.

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Next up, on the 13th, was The Grudge 2, which brought back Sarah Michelle Gellar (briefly) and assigned Amber Tamblyn to the dutiful task of investigating the ghosties flailing around in the haunted house down there in Japan. The first movie was both unapologetically repetitive and a shockingly high grosser ($110 million!), but only one of those descriptions applied to the sequel, which opened with $20 million and then dropped off the face of the Earth, Chainsaw 2-style, finishing with $39 million (yup, that accursed number again). That was the end of the series' theatrical life, although The Grudge 3 was released this year... directly-to-home video, and thus out of my jurisdiction.

While these numbers were clearly near-death blows to the franchises themselves, they didn't stop the three subgenres they invented from continuing to litter theaters even after these sequels were long forgotten. Indeed, October 27th gave us Saw III, which certainly showed that particular franchise as alive and well, though it was the last Saw film to deliver really high-end numbers (finishing with $80 million to the second film's $87 million, while Saw IV dropped down to $63 million). Aside from easily being the most disgusting and repugnant entry in the series, Saw III was also the one where John Saw (Tobin Bell) had his big on-screen death, although the character has lived a remarkably healthy life in flashbacks ever since. It's amazing what good box office will do for your life expectancy.



November began with a shocking upset, and one of the year's biggest surprises: Borat! (I will not list the entire subtitle), a crude and rude mockumentary, rode its increasingly gargantuan buzz to a surprise opening - $26 million, in around 800 theaters only, at that - and eventually totaled at $128 million, a figure unimaginable to anyone just a few months before its release. Borat officially launched Sacha Baron Cohen as a master vulgarian, and one who has so far almost entirely preferred to avoid conventional film roles. While Borat was definitely targeting a different audience, things didn't look very bright for the two kid-aimed movies of November 3rd - Flushed Away and The Santa Clause 3: the Escape Clause. Flushed was a piece of sewer-set stop motion animation, and frankly performed as best as that description would allow - $18 million opening, $64 million total. Tim Allen's Clause 3 actually didn't finish with that bad a total, now that I think about it - $84 million - but that was a step down from the first film's $144 million and the second's $139 million. It got the worst reviews of the entire series, to boot, and I think it's just about safe to say that the franchise is over (but I don't want to tempt fate, so I won't say it).

Next, November 10th delivered what turned out to be a dull, September-style weekend. Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott vacationed on the French countryside (A Good Year - $7 million total), Christian Bale raged (Harsh Times, $3 million), and Sarah Michelle Gellar headlined yet, yet, yet another PG-13 ghost movie (The Return, $7 million), her last appearance in a live-action wide theatrical release to date. Standing above this single-digit pack was Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction - a pretty clever little comedy, and a good performance by the man himself, but this suffered from the Sandler/Carrey syndrome - the inability of comic actors to attract mass audiences in more serious roles, no matter how good they are. So a $40 million total it was.

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