Box Office - Decade at a Glance: September - December 2007

By Michael Lynderey

December 3, 2009

Bubba shot the TV last night.

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September

It's a kind of class caste system we see in September 2007, isn't it? You have your (mostly not-so-good) big-studio hits at the top, and a whole batch of Oscar-aimed releases (some with very positive reviews) stuck right down at the bottom, with no particular chance of escape.

Indeed, the month's biggest title was the unabashedly mediocre children's-aimed sports comedy The Game Plan - you know, the kind of movie where the poster features a smirking tween surrounded by macho athletes (think Like Mike). This was the one I'd blame for pointing its star, The Rock, firmly into children's film territory - and who can blame him? His kids movies routinely outgross his action output, and indeed The Game Plan's $22 million opening and unbelievably leggy $90 million (!) total bested every one of his leading roles but his first, The Scorpion King. In fact, I have no doubt that it is that very statistic that went through The Rock's mind as he filmed each and every pratfall in the upcoming The Tooth Fairy. After all, faith in the power of the box office can keep a man strong even through the worst of times.

The other three decent earners were the excellent Russell Crowe-Christian Bale team-up 3:10 To Yuma ($53 million total - good for a Western, and with another wiry Ben Foster performance); the Jamie Foxx-Jennifer Garner thriller The Kingdom ($47 million), which mixed some murky moralizing with ultra-violent action (and a horrifyingly realistic opening scene); and yet another threequel (I gotta stop using that word), Resident Evil: Extinction ($50 million), which will be giving way to a fourquel pretty soon. Now that I think about it, The Kingdom may also be notable as a partial return to the '80s subgenre of based-on-real-life wish fulfillment action (i.e. The Delta Force): the film's climax seemed to be modeled after the Daniel Pearl murder, but gave it the kind of happy ending we would have wanted - a last-minute, Chuck Norris-style rescue.




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Also doing OK was another Dane Cook vehicle, Good Luck Chuck ($35 million total), along with Jodie Foster's mostly intriguing vigilante thriller The Brave One ($36 million). I say mostly because the film seemed to be one of the dozens of fall '07 releases to start out strong before simply falling apart with an unconvincing, inexplicable ending - something true also of some of those aforementioned lower-caste Oscar films - In The Valley of Elah ($6 million total), with Tommy Lee Jones as a grieving father, and David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises ($17 million), another violent Viggo Mortensen thriller.

Also around (if you knew where to look) were occasionally fun '60s Beatles riff Across the Universe ($24 million total), Clive Owen gunnin' for meanie Paul Giamatti in underrated actioner Shoot 'Em Up ($12 million), Billy Bob Thornton viciously funny again in the aptly-named Mr. Woodcock ($25 million), something called Dragon Wars ($10 million), and Amanda Bynes fighting off sorority queens in Sydney White ($11 million). That film could be considered the last release in the 2003-2007 teen queen cycle, which began with the first big starring roles of Bynes, Lindsay Lohan and Hilary Duff, and ended with the last of their wide theatrical releases to date - the aforementioned college picture. Of course, in no time at all, a certain Ms. Cyrus came around to begin the teen queen wars anew, even if she doesn't have much competition this time around.


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