Summer 2003: The Top 10 Hits and More

Think there’s too many sequels this summer? Of course you probably do. We’ve had Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Hangover Part III, Monsters University, Despicable Me 2, The Smurfs 2, Grown Ups 2, Red 2, and Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. That’s ten by my expert counting abilities… or the number of fingers on both your hands (I hope). And there’s Kick-Ass 2 opening Friday. That goes up to eleven.

If we journey back ten summers ago, though, 2013 seems a little light when it comes to sequels. The summer of 2003 gave us 14, yes 14, sequels. Some did well. Others… not so much. Last week, I went over the summer of 1993 and showed you the Top 10 Hits from twenty years ago.

Tonight, we do the same for 10 years ago where half the list is sequels. I’ll cover the others as well, in addition to some notorious Lone Ranger size flops from a decade past. Let’s go!

10. Seabiscuit

Domestic Gross: $120 million

Before he moved on to direct the first Hunger Games picture, Gary Ross had a sizable hit with this true life horse tale starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, and William H. Macy. It picked up a Best Picture nomination at the Oscars. There was no sequel for this… though Seabiscuit: Back in the Saddle begs to be made.

9. 2 Fast 2 Furious

Domestic Gross: $127 million

Call me crazy, but I’m in the minority in believing that this sequel actually improved on the first one. 2 Fast 2 Furious knows it’s trash but has fun with it. It did not match the $144M domestic haul of the original but that didn’t stop this film franchise from rolling on… and it still is.

8. Hulk

Domestic Gross: $132 million

Don’t let the fact that it ranks #8 fool you. Hulk from director Ang Lee was considered a pretty big disappointment after it managed its $132M gross after a massive $70 million opening. Why did it fall so fast? Well, audiences pretty much hated it. I don’t think it’s terrible, but it left much to be desired. 2008’s The Incredible Hulk was an improvement.

7. Bad Boys II

Domestic Gross: $138 million

Will Smith’s second sequel in two summers (2002’s Men in Black II came first) was exactly what you’d expect from Michael Bay: big and kinda dumb with elaborate action sequences and lotsa stuff blowin’ up!

6. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Domestic Gross: $150 million

It’s certainly third in quality after the terrific first two entries in the series, but Terminator 3 is passable entertainment (even if Arnie is starting to show his age by this time).

5. X2: X-Men United

Domestic Gross: $214 million

Generally considered the best of the franchise so far (I agree, though First Class is close), X2 solidified the X-Men series as one of high quality after a very solid first entry in 2000.

4. Bruce Almighty

Domestic Gross: $242 million

Jim Carrey experienced some box office disappointments in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but Bruce Almighty brought him back in a huge way. He was wise enough not to participate in the disappointing sequel, Evan Almighty.

3. The Matrix Reloaded

Domestic Gross: $281 million

Many analysts figured this was the film to beat in the summer of 2003. Its $281M haul was terrific, but it left some moviegoers wanting more. They took their frustration out on the third entry, The Matrix Revolutions, which came out later that year (it earned a mere $139 million). My opinion: does it hold a candle to the original? No. Does it have one of the greatest action sequences ever? Yes… the freeway chase.

2. Pirate of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Domestic Gross: $305 million

It may be easy to forget now, but Johnny Depp was not a bankable star ten years ago and Pirates was certainly not considered a surefire hit. Then it came out and audiences went crazy over it (Johnny even got his first Oscar nomination for it). Sequels of lesser quality would follow… and are still coming.

1. Finding Nemo

Domestic Gross: $339 million

Pixar managed to rule the summer of 2003 with this fish tale that family audiences embraced. The studio is finally getting around to making a sequel which comes out in 2015.

And now for the other sequels…

There was Spy Kids 3D, which earned a solid $111 million. And American Wedding, which took in $104 million. Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle was a bit of a letdown. It made $100 million but the original made $125M. There was Legally Blonde 2, which earned $90 million (barely less than the first in 2001). Freddy vs. Jason scared up $82 million. Rugrats Go Wild took in $39 million. Jeepers Creepers 2 made $35 million.

Lots of sequels, huh? There are two more, though, that were major duds. First – Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. The Angelina Jolie flick made $65 million, only half of what the 2001 original earned ($131M). Ouch.

And then there’s the horrible movie idea that is Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd. Apparently New Line wasn’t bright enough (dumb… if you will) to realize that audiences might not want to see a Dumb and Dumber pic without Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. Who knew? The result: a $26 million gross. The first one made $127 million. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb… DUMB!!!

There were more box office flops that weren’t sequels. How about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, an ill-conceived idea based on Alan Moore’s graphic novel that managed only $66 million. It also marked Sean Connery’s final film appearance unless he decides to come out of retirement (unlikely).

We have Hollywood Homicide, which proved that moviegoers weren’t keen on a buddy cop comedy with Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett. It earned just $30 million.

And finally… Gigli. This Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez vanity vehicle is one of the more well-known flops of all time. The Bennifer collabo made an embarassing $6 million.

And there you have it, my friends! Your summer movie history from ten whole years ago…


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