Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2007
By Michael Lynderey
December 1, 2009
More animation scurried around in theaters, as TMNT proved that the good old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had some fans left, after all, and gave this CGI adventure a $54 million sum (compare that to the first live-action Turtle picture, which grossed a then-shocking $135 million in March of 1990). Next, Mark Wahlberg's overlong star vehicle Shooter gave him a good action role (to the tune of $46 million) and Sandra Bullock had a decent hit with the almost offensively absurd thriller Premonition ($47 million) - but even she couldn't have foreseen that she was only two years away from her biggest box office year.
The rest of the month played out like your usual spring laundry list of films: Samuel L. Jackson chained down Christina Ricci for her troubles in Black Snake Moan ($9 million), Chris Rock pondered the meaning of life, or something, in I Think I Love My Wife ($12 million), and, just like Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler found no box office gold at the end of the dramatic rainbow in Reign Over Me ($19 million). Elsewhere, the good little drama The Lookout failed to break out star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, ending up at only $4 million, and modest totals were in store also for the well-acted if unexceptional sports drama Pride ($7 million) and oddly-New Agey fantasy The Last Mimzy ($21 million). As happened in both January and February, horror films crawled out of the grave and into local theaters with little to no discernible effect - as demonstrated by the box office failures of haunted dummy-fest Dead Silence ($16 million total) and torture porn-horror sequel The Hills Have Eyes 2 ($20 million), which seems to have finished that remake franchise for good (although my crystal ball tells me another remake is scheduled for April 9, 2032). Finally, David Fincher's critically beloved near-three hour thriller Zodiac was only a quasi-horror film, but it didn't do very well either, finishing at $33 million - Fincher's lowest score to date. But karma must have worked out for him, because his highest grossing film was released the next year.
The results sheet for April 2007 looks like a cruel joke: a veritable army of films was put out to sea, but only one broke out as a decent hit, with another trailing behind. The month's standard-bearer was of course Disturbia, another PG-13 thriller made good, and the film that established Shia LaBeouf as a lead actor. While the plot on this one was pretty generic - next door neighbor may or may not practice some late-night hack and slashing - the good reviews, a breezy pace, and LaBeouf's generally well-received performance led this film from a $22 million opening to a shocking $80 million total. Large chunks of demographic out there really want to see PG-13 horror films, and quality is one of the unfortunate incentives that draw them in. So that explains that.
For every surprise hit, there must be an unexpected flop, and we sure had one with Grindhouse: directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino teamed up to direct two back-to-back genre films in the tradition of '70s exploitation. Following up their pulpy successes Kill Bill, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Sin City, this project seemed like a natural fit, and it wasn't a bad movie(s), but the box office did not take well to the whole thing. The three hour combined running time, mixed reviews, and horror movie fatigue just killed Grindhouse, which opened with $11m and finished with a mild $25 million. Clearly, there would be no Grindhouse 2.