Box Office - Decade at a Glance: September - December 2009
By Michael Lynderey
January 5, 2010
The weekend's other entries included exceptionally weird thriller The Box ($14 million total), with its elegant Frank Langella performance, and vaguely shaky-camish sci-fi thriller The Fourth Kind ($25 million), a film that did ring in a chill or two, even in the face of predictability (and it's always nice to see Milla Jovovich). The only non-horror film of the weekend (and believe me, the CGI Christmas Carol certainly embraced the underlying horror film elements in the plot) was politically-tinged The Men Who Stare at Goats ($32 million), which enlisted George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, and Kevin Spacey into an occasionally amusing comedic morass that did fall apart some at the end, if not before delivering a good laugh or two.
Next, November 13th saw the release of entertaining Richard Curtis ensemble comedy Pirate Radio ($7 million total), but the weekend's real story was the designated $100 million title, and one that I was pleased to see permeate the modern blockbuster world with its frankly old-fashioned '90s-style disaster trappings. Remember when big blockbusters weren't adaptations of beloved fanboy material, but rather simply high-concept ideas given to a high-profile director and populated with a cast of familiar actors? 2012 did, and featured frequent helmer Roland Emmerich ending the world in style, with a loopily entertaining cast led by an earnest John Cusack, a madcap Woody Harrelson, an immeasurably noble Chiwetel Ejiofor, a distinctly sinister-seeming Oliver Platt, and a barrage of Earth-destroying special effects that perked up a familiar story. This one nabbed a $65 million opening and a $163 million finish, a total lower than that of Emmerich's previous end-of-the-world epics, Independence Day ($306 million) and The Day After Tomorrow ($186 million). These disaster movies just don't make money like they used to. But you know what does?
Vampires and werewolves tusslin' over an apparently underage high school student, that's what. Yes, that epitome of 2000s-era fanboy box office outrageousness, Twilight, was back on November 20th. The Twilight Saga: New Moon managed to engineer not only a $300 million-area total (still waiting to see if it makes it to three zero zero), but more importantly, a $72 million first day - the biggest single day gross of all time, naturally - and a shockingly strong $142 million weekend, topping the first film's mere $69 million opening. How did New Moon do it? Wiser men than me may have the answer, and all I can really say is: beats me - must have been fanboy magic at work (or fangirl, if you like). By the way, stars Robert Pattinson (the vampire) and Kristen Stewart (the teenage girl) were still on top of the world here, and the film seems to have done wonders for Taylor Lautner (the werewolf), who may be on the path to becoming the biggest male movie star born after 1990.
Not content with just one shock, the November 20th weekend delivered yet another one of the year's biggest box office stories, and a fine example of '09-style Blartism: The Blind Side, a feel-good football-themed family film with Sandra Bullock as a particularly good samaritan, opened with $34 million and then simply kept on making money, again and again, ad nauseum. Right now, it's at $208 million, and who knows when it'll stop? Don't get me wrong - The Blind Side's a pretty good film, if a bit overlong, but at that point, haven't we just about had our fill of 2009 box office surprises?