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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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November

November '07 got to work pretty quickly removing the doldrums of October. Ridley Scott's '70s period piece American Gangster opened on November 2nd, utilizing its star power (Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe), generally good reviews, and slight event film feel to nab a $43 million weekend and finish at a strong $130 million (enough to break Washington's usual pattern of $20 million-ish opening / $70 million-area finish). Targeting a different audience, though no less successfully, was Jerry Seinfeld's considerably annoying CGI-fest Bee Movie (I always confuse this one with Bee Season), which opened with $38 million and finished at a pretty good $126 million. This one was basically your typical early November animated hit - so don't go raving about it or anything.

November 9th gave us a surprise upset, at least in the long term: after a leggy run, top awards contender (and Best Picture winner) No Country for Old Men eventually totaled at $74 million, while Vince Vaughn comedy Fred Claus underwhelmed, opening with $18 million and finishing with $72 million - right under No Country. Claus, with Vaughn as the brother of you-know-who, was another Christmas film that turned out just so-so, a disappointment after the decade's strong early crop of Elf, Love Actually, The Polar Express, and Bad Santa. No Country, on the other hand, was a dark, vaguely thriller-ish affair with (once again) an unclear ending, but more than a handful of excellent bits of cinema. And, after a few years of dabbling in American films, this was the title that made Javier Bardem a near-household name, and boosted Josh Brolin from B-movie veteran to frequent resident of Oscar-bait films. Elsewhere, rounding out the week were actually very effective thriller P2 ($3 million total) and Robert Redford's big-screen debate forum, Lions for Lambs ($15 million), which co-starred Redford, Tom Cruise and a typically terrific Meryl Streep (the constant high quality of her performances is getting too predictable).




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The 16th was another mixed bag, top-lined by Beowulf, Robert Zemeckis' stop-motion follow-up to the masterful Polar Express (Zemeckis seems to have sworn off live action). This one actually had some legs, turning a $27 million opening into an $82 million total. Based on the (really, really) old poem, Beowulf was entertainingly pulpy, and the animation's creepiness proved a perfect fit with the various monstrosities on display in the plot. It was also amusing to see British supporting player Ray Winstone reformatted in animation as an uber-muscular norseman. Out that day as well was charming fantasy Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, which paired Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman to the tune of a mild $32 million total - the film's title appears to have by this point been reduced to the punchline of bad jokes.

Next, the 23rd featured a typically busy Thanksgiving roll-out of filmstuff, with a little something for everybody. The pack was led by Disney's Enchanted, a semi-musical with an animated opening scene and a clever premise, about an innocent fairy tale princess in modern-day New York (too bad the movie's version of the city was more Disney than Scorsese). Enchanted is the one that turned star Amy Adams from indie darling (Junebug) and entertaining character actress (Talladega Nights) into a strong female lead, breaking out with a $49 million five-day sum and finishing with a strong $127 million - a nice hit to bridge the gap between the month's early successes and the upcoming December onslaught. Playing across the hall was This Christmas ($49 million total), a somewhat saccharine but effectively charming piece of family holiday dramedy. This one was compared by reviewers to Tyler Perry's output (and indeed, the film featured Sharon Leal in a role very similar to her character in Perry's Why Did I Get Married?), and in fact, it is of higher quality than most of Perry's work. Elsewhere, Stephen King's The Mist came around with a great idea, an occasionally effective execution, and a distinctly absurd ending that nevertheless has its fans. This one kind of seemed out of place among the horror subgenres of the time, and played out as such, with a $25 million total. The weekend's remaining two titles were Timothy Olyphant's starring role in the OK Hitman ($39 million total), which was never going to go beyond its action base, and August Rush ($31 million), a drama that plugged stars Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell and Freddie Highmore into a frankly absurd plot played straight, with some decidedly mixed results.


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