Box Office - Decade at a Glance: May - August 2008

By Michael Lynderey

December 16, 2009

Whatever you do, don't call him crazy.

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Next, Thursday, May 22nd delivered one of the most anticipated films of the year, as fourquel Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opened with a $25 million first day and $100 million weekend, and finished with a respectable $317 million (the highest total in the series, but not so if one dabbles in adjusting old numbers). After a decade of headlining lesser-seen thrillers (Firewall, Hollywood Homicide), this was a return to $100 million+ form for big '90s star Harrison Ford - his first three-digit-earner since 2000's What Lies Beneath. The film was also a prime piece of box office meat for co-stars Cate Blanchett, in a rare non-awards contender role as a whip-wielding Russian villainess, and Shia LaBeouf, in another notch in his chain of summer blockbusters. Nostalgia for the legendary Jones trilogy is what brought this one to the $300 million point, even if a large chunk of the franchise's fans found the Crystal Skull too jokey and confusing (but hey, I liked it, if that counts).

As the month wound down, the 30th was initially seen as a box office off week - but that pipe dream wasn't to be. Sex and the City opened to a startling $26 million first day and $57 million weekend, and totaled at a not-so-frontloaded $152 million. Fans of the television series rushed out to see this nearly two and a half hour-long film version, and its performance woke box office analysts up to the reality that female-driven fanboy films can pull in numbers just as absurd as those of their male-driven counterparts (and we'd see this pointedly repeated again later in the year, with Mamma Mia! and Twilight). A sequel is, needless to say, on its way. Not to be outdone, the same weekend also dished out terror tale The Strangers, which carried some suspenseful trailers to a $20 million opening and strong $52 million total. This R-rated thriller was a departure from the era's flood of PG-13 ghost horror, torture porn, and remakes, but after an effectively promising start, the film did fall apart with a mean-spirited and needless ending. Still, The Strangers was a step in the right direction for the horror genre, even if it's one of few taken since.



As is generally expected, June slowed down some from the over-the-top box office shenanigans of May, and gave some much-needed breathing room before the plunderers of July were to arrive. That didn't mean June 2008 couldn't sneak in a $200 million movie or two, though. First, on June 6th, Kung Fu Panda, another DreamWorks CGI monstrosity, opened to a stunning $60 million and finished with a startling $215 million. CGI fare outside of Pixar and Shrek didn't usually climb quite so high, and so I called this one a monstrosity precisely because it did so - boasted by gushy reviews and an apparently-catchy premise, the film gave star Jack Black a welcome hit, if only in CGI. The weekend's other entry was a three-digit earner, too, of course - Adam Sandler's You Don't Mess With the Zohan cast him as an uber-efficient Israeli soldier turned New York hairstylist, to the tune of a very Sandler-esque $38 million opening and flat one-zero-zero finish. Aside from netting a lower Sandler total gross than usual, this one was notable as one of a seemingly endless parade of 2008 movies to... just ... barely... get... to... $100 million, after weeks of "will it or won't it"-type wobbling amid the $90 millions (you'll see what I mean as we get through the summer).

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