Box Office - Decade at a Glance: May - August 2008
By Michael Lynderey
December 16, 2009
The other $100 million crawler was over-the-top jungle action comedy Tropic Thunder, which mixed occasional comic gold with a bloated running time and totaled at $110 million after a somewhat slow $25 million opening. As if teaming up comedy superstars Ben Stiller and Jack Black wasn't enough, this one craftily inserted in newly-minted audience favorite Robert Downey Jr., and cast him, controversially, as a pretentious method actor dabbling in blackface (that was just the tip of the various bruhahas this film inspired, but let's not get into that). Also doing pretty well on the comedy front was the Apatow-produced (yes, again) Pineapple Express, which played like somewhat of a follow-up to the previous summer's Knocked Up, teaming Seth Rogen with James Franco and sending them onto a drug-induced comedic adventure. Just like Tropic Thunder, this one mixed some undeniable hilarity in with a bloated length and some surprisingly unrestrained violence. After a $23 million weekend (and $12 million opening day!), this one finished up with $87 million - not a super number, but actually one of Rogen's better totals.
As usual, the whole of August easily proved to be the summer's busiest month, substituting quality for quantity, as Augusts always do. Probably the best received titles were Don Cheadle's thriller Traitor ($23 million total), sequel The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 ($44 million - despite the ungainly title), and inevitably cult comedy Hamlet 2 ($4 million). Mirrors ($30 million) was another ghost horror picture, distinguished from the PG-13 rest by a surprising R rating. And CGI cartoon Star Wars: The Clone Wars presented a significant box office question mark for those who know just how potent this franchise can be. Would Clone Wars be another fanboy-driven $100 million earner? The answer, simply, was no. A $14 million opening and $35 million total were in store for this one, and if Clone Wars were the last film in the series, I don't know that it would be such a bad thing.
The rest of the August fest included star vehicles for Ice Cube (The Longshots - $11 million total), Rainn Wilson (The Rocker - $6 million), Drake Bell (College - $4 million), Kevin Costner (Swing Vote - $16 million), and Vin Diesel (Babylon A.D. - $22 million - and his first starring role in a wide release since The Pacifier in 2005). Somewhat incoherent action thriller Death Race pitted Jason Statham against Joan Allen (of all people), to the tune of a typically Statham-esque $36 million. And Anna Faris' cheesy comedy The House Bunny cast her as the title Playboy veteran and rode some funny trailers to a strong $48 million total.
As usual with Augusts, I saved the most enjoyable box office performance for last: Disaster Movie, a parody from the makers of Date Movie, Epic Movie, and Meet the Spartans - and released, incredibly, just seven months after that last film - finished with a meek $14 million. After all the $35 million - $50 million level totals for these genuinely bad movies, this was the one that had the decency to stand up and say "no more". Indeed, as I write these words, I am fully confident that Disaster Movie will be one of the last spoofs to be given a wide theatrical release for quite some considerable time now.
So, on behalf of moviegoers everywhere, I applaud you, Disaster Movie. Your sacrifice shall not have been in vain.