Box Office - Decade at a Glance: May - August 2007

By Michael Lynderey

December 2, 2009

What? I need to practice for the next season of Top Chef.

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May

While no doubt an improvement over the events of 2006, May-August 2007 played out like a longer, stretched-out version of summer '04, with disappointing follow-ups to several of that year's big films, and an emphasis on "threequels" - which makes sense, because at this point in the decade, many 2000s franchises were rapidly shedding away roman numerals.

May's first release was an ample demonstration of the bad threequel principle - Spider-Man 3, out smack dab on May 4th, was not only longer than its brilliant predecessor, but also more thematically murky and crowded with plotlines, some successful, some not. Thomas Haden Church was particularly effective as tragi-villain the Sandman (and the scene of his creation was remarkably well done), but Topher Grace's Venom was an almost obligatory disappointment, and the film was further dragged down by endless subplots about the romantic entanglements of Peter Parker and Mary Jane - not to mention that unapologetically cheesy memory loss storyline on the part of Harry Osborn. Not that any of those things hurt the initial box office - Spider-Man 3 opened with $151 million, easily breaking the opening weekend record set the previous year by Dead Man's Chest, and reminding us that these milestones were becoming as redundant as they were now common (the total gross was $336 million, the lowest for a Spidey movie - but still enough to win both the summer and the year). The weekend's other movie was Lucky You, an interesting if somewhat dull Las Vegas-set drama with Eric Bana and Drew Barrymore; Barrymore was of course effortlessly adorable, but the film was left way behind, finishing with $5 million. Bummer.




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May 11th gave us some quiet before the storm - more specifically, a smorgasbord of very bad movies delivering even worse box office. I'm in a bit of pickle trying to decide which of the following was the worse film, so make up your own minds. Your choices are: 28 Weeks Later ($28 million total), another horror sequel franchise killer, and one of the most viciously implausible films of the year; Delta Farce ($8 million), which starred Larry the Cable Guy and at the very least reminded me of the enjoyably pulpy Chuck Norris movie with the similar name; Georgia Rule ($19 million), a Lindsay Lohan-starring semi-comedy about child molestation from the man who brought you Pretty Woman; and finally, The Ex ($3 million), a Zach Braff comedy where the wheelchair-bound antagonist (Jason Bateman) is revealed at the end of the picture to have been faking his disability for over 20 years (amazingly, this revelation was cut out of the film when it hit video and cable - but I saw it in theaters, so you can't fool me).

Moving past that quagmire, we get into the next pre-designated summer blockbuster - Shrek the Third. This one was inevitable after Shrek 2 took in $441 million, becoming the biggest film of 2004 (not to mention the then-third highest grossing title, ever). But Shrek the Third followed the 2007 threequel route to a tee: first, it was inferior to both its predecessors, alternating occasional moments of good humor with a generally lax and familiar plot; second, it one-upped the previous films' opening weekends, starting with $121 million for three days; and finally, the movie finished well below Shrek 2, with a total of $321 million. But, like it or not - a fourquel is indeed on the way.


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