Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2007
By Michael Lynderey
December 1, 2009
Following in the steps of recent Januaries, the first month of 2007 cluttered the path of holdover awards contenders with hordes of inferior product. In general, the spring of 2007 can be characterized as a near-literal garage sale of films, with movie after movie being heaved upon mostly unwilling audiences. Quantity didn't equal box office quality, a theme that was first established by January's output - this was the first January since 2000 to feature only one new film that grossed more than $40 million. That lucky winner was Stomp the Yard, yet another in a now thriving series of hit dance movies. Taking up the second week of January teen slot, it opened with $21 million and finished with a strong $61 million.
The rest of the month was dodgy. January 5th continued the newly-established trend of crowding the year's first weekend, and threw out the uninspired-looking spy comedy Code Name: The Cleaner ($8 million), with Cedric the Entertainer, the CGI fairy tale parody (where have I heard that before?) Happily N'Ever After ($15 million), and the actually rather excellent MTV Films drama Freedom Writers ($36 million), with Hilary Swank at the peak of her game in a surprisingly effective urban teen movie. The same could be said of the best of January 12th's films, Alpha Dog, Nick Cassavetes' gritty follow-up to his soapy The Notebook (2004). Alpha Dog was ignored at the box office ($15 million total), but gave pop star Justin Timberlake a very respectable film debut, re-introduced former teen TV actor Ben Foster as an efficient player of demented psychotics, and gave '90s starlet Sharon Stone her last wide-release film role to date (it's ironic, then, considering her public image, that she played her last big-screen scene in a fat suit).
The 19th was a dead weekend, with one release that was expected to score big. It didn't. The Hitcher, yet another horror remake (albeit not a PG-13 one), opened with $7 million and finished at only $16 million. I really can't explain the failure of this one - sure, it was rated R, but that didn't stop other R-rated re-dos. Maybe it was part of a downward trend: after all, the previous weekend featured yet another floppy horror, the croc-on-the-loose adventure Primeval ($10 million), and the 26th dished out horror-romance Blood and Chocolate, which finished with a squeaky little $3 million. Indeed, the frequency of horror titles didn't stop there - 2007 represented the absolute peak of the 2000s horror boom, standing (tall?) as the year with the biggest number of widely released horror films (loosely defined), ever - a staggering thirty-four of them. As with every boom, there must be a bust, and after so many horrors failed in 2007, their 2008 head count dropped down to a more reasonable seventeen.
Anyway, the month ended okay, with the cute Jennifer Garner comedy Catch and Release disappointing ($15 million total), the cameo-laden bout of action outrageousness, Smokin' Aces, breaking out to a moderate $35 million, and the abominably unamusing hijinks of the spoof Epic Movie coming in second for the month, with a $39 million total. Those parodies seemed to be getting worse with every new one, but at this point, their box office didn't slow down any. The day of their comeuppance would come, but not quite yet.