Box Office - Decade at a Glance: January - April 2008
By Michael Lynderey
December 15, 2009
April '08 got off to a fairly dowdy start: the 4th - 6th weekend gave us the George Clooney/Renee Zellweger/John Krasinski team-up Leatherheads, which performed exactly like
you'd think a 1920s-set screwball comedy about football would: $12 million opening, $31 million total. Elsewhere, lean, surprisingly effective horror movie The Ruins killed off some young people to the tune of a $17 million total, while Abigail Breslin, fresh off her Oscar-nominated role in 2006's Little Miss Sunshine, began to dominate the child actor circuit - starring not only in the aforementioned Definitely, Maybe - but also Nim's Island, a neat little fantasy that gave Breslin good support from Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler, and took its generally positive critical reception to a $48 million total (thus besting not only those pesky teen-killing vines but also no less than George Clooney himself).
Next weekend was led by Prom Night, a lame PG-13 slasher remake of an even worse horror film (does that make it OK?), and one that broke out in typical Screen Gems fashion - $20 million open, $43 million total. Meanwhile, Smart People gathered the interestingly-cast Dennis Quaid, Ellen Page, Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church into a good little dramedy - but not good enough, and playing during the Oscar off-season, it finished with a lonely $9 million. A batch of not-so-good thrillers reared their head throughout the rest of the month, led by Keanu Reeves' LAPD shootout Street Kings ($26 million total), Al Pacino in the much-delayed, not to mention absurd, 88 Minutes ($16 million), and Ewan McGregor and Hugh Jackman teaming for Deception ($4 million), which came off like a less well-thought out version of the Rob Lowe thriller Bad Influence.
When it came to box office, though, it was comedies that dominated the latter half of the month. First, Apatow-produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall opened with $17 million and finished with a supremely leggy $63 million, breaking out another member of Apatow's entourage, Jason Segel, who wrote and starred in the film. And just as Knocked Up set Katherine Heigl up for a career as romantic comedy leading woman, Sarah Marshall appears to have done the same for the title character's thespian, Kristen Bell (co-star Mila Kunis seems to have done well for herself, too). Next, Baby Mama was a combination of likable comediennes Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, as well as an efficient if not groundbreaking comedy, netting itself a $17 million open and excellent $60 million total. Good for Fey. On the lower ranks, sequel Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay positioned the first film's stars, John Cho and Kal Penn, into another politically incorrect morass, this one less amusing than the first - but part one had its fans, and thus the sequel got itself a $14 million open and $38 million total (the first film finished with $18 million, so the series was definitely moving upmarket here).
April was also home to the goofy martial arts fantasy The Forbidden Kingdom, with Jackie Chan and Jet Li; while not an outright comedy, this one was hard to take seriously, and pulled in a total of $52 million - frankly a lot more than I would have thought. Li and Chan have their fans, no doubt about that.