Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2008

By Michael Lynderey

December 15, 2009

She's written 65 songs about Joe.

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As the 2000s dwindle down, we arrive at 2008. So, what did the year give us? A non-eventful start, a blazing comic book summer, and a surprisingly muted fall with one unexpected mega-hit. All this, and the decade's biggest film, too.

January

2008 started slow, no doubt about that. You had your standard year opener, PG-13 ghost movie One Missed Call ($26 million total), your typically nonchalant Ice Cube comedy, First Sunday ($37 million), your distinctly not-so-good Uwe Boll film, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale ($4m), and the brilliantly-titled The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie ($12 million). That Dungeon Siege thing was the thus far last of Boll's four wide releases, but enough about him, because the really important stuff happened in the next frame: with the releases of Cloverfield and 27 Dresses, January 18th played out like a mini-blockbuster weekend, especially relative to most other Januaries (although January '09 would end up putting even this box office score to shame). The way in which the weekend's two big films ended up with around the same total is pretty illustrative of the difference between how their respective genres usually play out at the box office - Cloverfield, a horror-thriller, opened with $40 million and totaled at an ultra-frontloaded $80 million, while romantic comedy 27 Dresses started off with a good $23 million and legged it up to $76 million. Cloverfield, essentially a shaky-cam monster movie, had of course been the subject of much buzz and speculation prior to its release - it had one of those "What just happened?" trailers that inspire a lot of posts on sites like Ain't It Cool News, and the opening rush-out reflected that buzz. 27 Dresses, on the other hand, proved to be Katherine Heigl's coming-out as a solo lead actress - her role in Knocked Up was the set-up, and this film was the punchline, making her an immediate successor to Kate Hudson and Reese Witherspoon in those "quirky-but-beautiful woman looking for love" roles that often prove such solid gold at the box office (for better or worse).




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The rest of the month was just your usual January collection of shady characters - a Diane Lane-starring '90s-style serial killer thriller with a dash of torture-porn (Untraceable, $28 million), Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah, and Katie Holmes making for a particularly unvillainous band of crooks in Mad Money ($20 million), and a mish-mash of a spoof, Meet the Spartans ($38 million!). We're getting to the judgment day for that subgenre - hold on for just a little longer. And finally, Sylvester Stallone returned to another of his hallmark franchises with Rambo, an almost unbelievably ultra-violent if routine adventure that finished with $42 million, the lowest tally for the series (a fact that may soon apply to Rambo 5, which is apparently on the way).

February

February 2008 opened with three wide releases thoroughly trounced by a film that never even went above 800 theaters. Yes, February 1st - 3rd was the frame where concert movie Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds (a real tongue-twister) opened to $31 million before totaling up at $65 million. As the reign of 2003-era teen queens came to a thorough end, Cyrus stepped in and dominated the now-empty landscape; indeed, the immense popularity of her Hannah Montana character is the only explanation for the boffo performance of Best of Both Worlds, which took concert film box office to unprecedented heights. As for those films left behind in the dust? They were The Eye, a mild PG-13 ghost horror with Jessica Alba ($31 million total), Strange Wilderness, an inconceivably unfunny comedy from Happy Madison ($6 million), and Over Her Dead Body, a non-moving vehicle for Paul Rudd and Eva Longoria ($7 million); none of these ever stood a chance - not with Montana coming down the tracks.


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