Box Office - Decade at a Glance: September - December 2008
By Michael Lynderey
December 17, 2009
The month wrapped things up with some vaguely intriguing titles. In the Oscar sweepstakes, Clint Eastwood delivered Angelina Jolie to her second nomination in Changeling ($35 million total), a meticulous '20s-set thriller, if one decidedly overlong and ultimately unfocused. Elsewhere, Edward Norton and Colin Farrell fought it out in New York cop drama Pride and Glory ($15 million), to no avail, while Seth Rogen teamed with Elizabeth Banks for Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno ($31 million) - a film much less crude than it sounds, especially by Smith standards - and also not quite as funny. Finally, and in a year with fewer horror films than any other since 2002, we had another one just in time for Halloween - The Haunting of Molly Hartley, a near forgotten PG-13-rated $13 million grosser. Don't worry, though, horror was just taking a year off - 2009 unleashed another monstrously uncountable number of entries in the genre, keeping the 2000s horror boom going for one more year.
Since 2004, every first weekend of November had seen the release of a high-profile CGI film, and so 2008 continued the tradition, unleashing sequel Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa upon the nation. This was a prototypical CGI comedy in every fathomable way (though fairly entertaining at that), and finished with a strong $179 million after a $63 million opening (below the first film's $193 million, sure, but who's counting?). The weekend's other openers were both reasonably amusing comedies, though vaguely Apatow-ish Role Models ($67 million) certainly one-upped Samuel L. Jackson/Bernie Mac team-up Soul Men ($12 million) - which happened to be Mac's last starring role (he also appeared in that Madagascar sequel, oddly enough, and popped in for a bit part in the embarrassing Old Dogs - the man was prolific, no doubt about that). Role Models, on the other hand, paired up old school (early 2000s, that is) comic actor Seann William Scott with Apatow-era star Paul Rudd (in his first post-Anchorman hit as a leading man), also dropping in supporting players Ken Jeong, Jane Lynch and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. 'Twas quite an effective package for fans of that sort of thing.
November 14th was home to yet another designated blockbuster - James Bond's Quantum of Solace, which nearly mirrored Madagascar's run, opening with $67 million and totaling at $168 million. While the first Daniel Craig-starring Bond film, Casino Royale, appears to have been universally beloved, this one surely was not, and failed to take in much more than the last Brosnan-era Bond (Die Another Day, $160 million) or indeed Casino Royale itself ($167 million). Also out that week, albeit in limited release and expanding only much later, was a film that ended up with a total too close for comfort to the Bond picture - Slumdog Millionaire, an old-fashioned zero-to-hero adventure set in India, rode its overwhelmingly positive critical reception to an eventual $141 million total, and a Best Picture win, to boot.
Next, November 21st was a launching pad for two more $100 million titles. The first was dog movie Bolt, yet another CGI adventure, and one that took its Disney brand and some voice star power (Miley Cyrus, John Travolta) to a $26 million opening and solid $114 million total. The other film, for better or worse, was pro-vampire romance Twilight - a teenage female-driven hit that dominated the entire season, becoming the highest grossing movie released between September and December, and playing out in many ways like High School Musical 3 was expected to - opening with a shockingly strong $69 million and finishing with a somewhat leggy (for this type of thing) $192 million. The Twilight books had their fans, that's for sure, but such a high tally was fairly inconceivable at the time, and the franchise only got bigger from there. How bizarre.