Summer 2000: The Top 10 Hits and More

As I do every summer on the blog, I am looking back at the cinematic seasons of 30, 20, and 10 years ago and recounting the top ten hits, other notable pics, and some misfires. A week ago, I covered the summer of 1990 (when we all were “ghosted”). If you missed it, you can peruse it here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/07/18/summer-1990-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

Today brings us to the dawn of the new century. What struck me is that there weren’t a whole lot of outright flops, but the ones that were are rather significant bombs. Let’s take a trip down memory lane of 2000 and were we not entertained?!?!

10. The Patriot

Domestic Gross: $113 million

Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger teamed up with disaster flick specialist Roland Emmerich for this Revolutionary War era drama that managed to just achieve blockbuster status and barely top its reported $110 million budget stateside.

9. Big Momma’s House

Domestic Gross: $117 million

Negative reviews couldn’t prevent this Martin Lawrence comedy from nearly quadrupling its $30 million budget and spawning two eventual sequels. 30% also happens to be its Rotten Tomatoes score.

8. Nutty Professor II: The Klumps

Domestic Gross: $123 million

Eddie Murphy’s sequel to his 1996 hit certainly didn’t get the reviews of its predecessor, but it fell only $5 million short of the domestic gross of part 1 and introduced superstar Janet Jackson as his new love interest. Part 2 also greatly expanded Eddie’s work as other members of the Klump brood. As you can see from numbers 8 and 9, it was a big summer for comedians in fat suits.

7. Dinosaur

Domestic Gross: $137 million

The prehistoric Disney animated adventure is not one of their most talked about titles in recent decades, but it was still a profitable venture that grossed nearly $350 million worldwide.

6. What Lies Beneath

Domestic Gross: $155 million

Despite mixed reviews, Robert Zemeckis’s Hitchcockian thriller starring Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer landed big with audiences. Its filming schedule is a memorable one. Zemeckis was shooting Cast Away with Tom Hanks and there was a long break in filming so its star could shed weight and grow his long beard. It was enough time for the director to fit in Beneath. 

5. Scary Movie

Domestic Gross: $157 million

The summer’s biggest comedy was a Scream spoof from filmmaker Keenan Ivory Wayans. Shot for less than $20 million, it spawned four sequels and became its own franchise.

4. X-Men

Domestic Gross: $157 million

I recently wrote about the 20th anniversary of X-Men here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2020/07/14/x-men-at-20-a-look-back/

That post talks about its significant impact on the comic book genre that has dominated the 21st century.

3. The Perfect Storm

Domestic Gross: $182 million

Wolfgang Peterson’s fact based disaster drama with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg was not much of a hit with critics, but crowds were swept up in the waves.

2. Gladiator

Domestic Gross: $187 million

Ridley Scott’s historical action drama kicked off summer 2000 and made a global superstar out of Russell Crowe and provided a juicy supporting part for Joaquin Phoenix. The film became an Oscar darling – winning Best Picture and Crowe taking Best Actor. This is the rare summer popcorn pic that achieved awards glory.

1. Mission: Impossible 2

Domestic Gross: $215 million

This sequel cruised to the top spot of earners for the season. Now that there’s been six editions in the franchise, this John Woo directed experience is generally (and rightfully) considered the weakest of the bunch. Yet that didn’t prevent huge grosses.

And now for some other notable features:

Chicken Run

Domestic Gross: $106 million

This still stands as the highest grossing stop-motion animated feature of all time and it doubled its budget domestically. A sequel is in development, but it was recently announced that lead voice Mel Gibson will not be part of the proceedings.

Gone in 60 Seconds

Domestic Gross: $101 million

Despite poor reviews, Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie’s remake of the 1970s heist pic still zoomed (barely) past $100 million and was a solid performer overseas.

Me, Myself & Irene

Domestic Gross: $90 million

The Farrelly Brothers reunited with their Dumb and Dumber star Jim Carrey for this comedy that earned mixed reaction. This was nowhere near the hit that the brothers had two years earlier with their runaway success There’s Something About Mary, but it still made money.

Space Cowboys

Domestic Gross: $90 million

Clint Eastwood guided this “old guys in space” tale alongside Tommy Lee Jones to a very respectable gross and decent critical reaction.

Hollow Man

Domestic Gross: $73 million

Paul Verhoeven’s take on the H.G. Wells novel starred Kevin Bacon and earned a Visual Effects Oscar nomination (losing to Gladiator). While it didn’t make its budget back stateside, it ended up doubling its price tag when factoring in foreign markets. A direct to video sequel followed.

Shaft

Domestic Gross: $70 million

Samuel L. Jackson took over the iconic private dick role from Richard Roundtree (who costarred here) in this sequel from the late John Singleton. Christian Bale memorably plays a villain here. Another sequel followed in 2019 and it was an outright flop.

Bring It On

Domestic Gross: $68 million

Made for only $11 million, this teen cheerleading comedy was an unexpected hit that gave Kirsten Dunst and Gabrielle Union a boost in their careers. Five direct to video sequels followed as well as a stage musical.

The Cell

Domestic Gross: $61 million

Despite so-so reviews, this twisty supernatural thriller with Jennifer Lopez easily topped its $33 million budget. It has continued to have ardent admirers including the late Roger Ebert, who awarded it four stars.

Coyote Ugly

Domestic Gross: $60 million

This tale about saloon life with Piper Perabo and John Goodman managed to take in over $100 million worldwide against a $45 million budget and has become a cult favorite since.

The Original Kings of Comedy

Domestic Gross: $38 million

A stand-up comedy pic grossing this much in theaters is notable. Spike Lee directed Bernie Mac, Steve Harvey, D.L. Hughley, and Cedric the Entertainer and audiences turned out.

As I mentioned, the total bombs aren’t plentiful here. However, they’re notable:

The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle

Domestic Gross: $26 million

A pet project of Robert De Niro, this loose take on the 1960s animated series grossed a third of its budget domestically and was quickly forgotten.

Titan A.E.

Domestic Gross: $22 million

20th Century Fox had a big failure here at the start of the 21st century with this animated sci-fi tale with Matt Damon as a leading voice. The price tag was reportedly around $90 million and it made just $36 million worldwide.

Battlefield Earth

Domestic Gross: $21 million

Based on a work from Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, audiences and critics savaged this sci-fi tale with John Travolta. It won a then record 7 Golden Raspberry Awards and was mocked relentlessly for its poor quality.

And that does it, folks! I’ll have 2010 recounted on the blog in the coming days…

Patriots Day Movie Review

Patriots Day marks the third collaboration between director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg recounting recent tragedies. After Lone Survivor and Deepwater Horizon, their latest continues their work of solidly crafted dramas that fall far short of greatness. Yet there’s enough powerful material to make it recommendation worthy.

The picture recounts the Boston Marathon bombing and its manhunt for the two suspects that carried it out. It was that April 2013 day that marked the largest domestic terror attack since 9/11. Wahlberg is police sergeant Tommy Saunders, who’s on duty near the blast sites at the finish line. He’s witness to the horrific loss of lives and limbs and determined to see the attackers brought to justice.

Berg’s film tells not only the tale of law enforcement response, but also shows us the Tsarnaev brothers as they attempt to flee to enact more destruction in New York City. Older brother Tamerlan (Themo Melikidze) is the mastermind while younger brother Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff) is portrayed as a more Westernized stoner college kid who still believes strongly in their cause. It is in the time spent with them that provide a number of chilling moments, including their abduction of a college student as their make their escape. An interrogation scene with Tamerlan’s wife is also a dramatic highlight.

Patriots Day does a commendable job of showing many of the parties whose lives became intertwined by the day’s events. This includes some of the bombing victims as well as individuals calling the shots. John Goodman portrays city police commissioner Ed Davis, Kevin Bacon is the FBI special agent in charge, and J.K. Simmons is a sergeant in the suburb of Watertown where the manhunt culminates. They are all real life characters while Wahlberg’s is not. The lead actor is solid enough in the part, even though the pic may have more effective if the screenwriters had just stuck to the actual players.

Those with decent knowledge of these events may feel a lack of suspense, especially as we build toward the conclusion. The prologue spends some time with people the actors are playing and it made me ready to watch a documentary about their lives since. Overall, it’s worth the time to see this version which sticks mostly to the facts and reminds us of a city’s strength that gave way to an earned slogan.

*** (out of four)

 

Patriots Day Box Office Prediction

Patriots Day, out next weekend, marks the third collaboration between Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg recounting real-life dramatic events. It arrives only four months after their second. In January 2014, the duo teamed up for Lone Survivor, the war tale which grossed over $37 million in its first weekend of wide release with an eventual $125M domestic haul. In September of last year, they followed up with Deepwater Horizon (recounting the BP Oil Spill). It debuted to a less impressive $20 million and overall $66M gross.

Their latest focuses on events surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Besides the aforementioned personnel, costars include John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Michelle Monaghan, and Kevin Bacon. Patriots opened in limited release in December, likely in order to merit Oscar consideration (of which it’ll probably receive little). Still, reviews have been mostly strong at 78% currently on Rotten Tomatoes.

So where will this fall numbers wise compared to Wahlberg and Berg’s previous efforts? I don’t believe it will match what Survivor accomplished but suspect it could eclipse Horizon. Debuting over the four-day MLK weekend, Day stands a very good chance at posting the highest opening of the six pictures coming out. That means I have it outpacing Ben Affleck’s Live by Night, which should serve as its most direct competition.

I’ll say it manages low to mid-20s out of the gate.

Patriots Day opening weekend prediction: $23.6 million

For my Live by Night prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/04/live-by-night-box-office-prediction/

For my Sleepless prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/04/sleepless-box-office-prediction/

For my Monster Trucks prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/05/monster-trucks-box-office-prediction/

For my The Bye Bye Man prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/05/the-bye-bye-man-box-office-prediction/

For my Silence prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/01/05/silence-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Patriots Day

Just two months back, director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg collaborated on the timely Deepwater Horizon, which opened to decent box office numbers and reviews but little Oscar hope (save for some potential recognition in the Sound categories). Last night at the AFI Film Festival, their third team-up (the other was 2013’s Lone Survivor) was unveiled in the form of Patriots Day.

Another timely drama – Day focuses on the Boston Marathon bombing and the city’s law enforcement and political response to the tragedy. Wahlberg headlines a cast that includes John Goodman, J.K. Simmons, Kevin Bacon, and Michelle Monaghan. The reported response from the AFI crowd was overwhelmingly positive and early critical reaction puts it at 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. The general consensus? “It gets the job done.”

So where does this information put Patriots Day in the Oscar derby? I would say as an outside contender. I had yet to put the picture into consideration in my top 20 possibilities for a nomination, but it’s feasible that it could slide in towards the bottom next week. It certainly seems more likely for a nod than Deepwater. And don’t be shocked if Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross get some love for their score, which has already been singled out in some reviews.

Time will tell if this manages to become more of a realistic possibility as the weeks move along.

The Darkness Box Office Prediction

Blumhouse Productions specializes in low-budget horror flicks and they’ve got once teed up for early summer with The Darkness, out next weekend. Kevin Bacon and Radha Mitchell star in a tale of a Grand Canyon vacation bringing back a supernatural being. David Mazouz, Matt Walsh, and Jennifer Morrison costar. Greg McLean, who directed Wolf Creek, is behind the camera.

The studio has seen their share of genre successes, including the Paranormal Activity, Sinister, Insidious, and Purge franchises. There’s also been some relative disappointments, such as Dark Skies, Oculus, The Gallows, and The Green Inferno. 

The Darkness doesn’t seem to have much buzz going for it and appears unlikely to light up the box office. I’ll predict this doesn’t reach double digits.

The Darkness opening weekend prediction: $5.6 million

For my Money Monster prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/05/04/money-monster-box-office-prediction/

 

Black Mass Movie Review

Scott Cooper’s Black Mass features a remarkable performance by Johnny Depp in a rather unremarkable telling of a fascinating true life gangster tale. Taking place over a number of years starting in the mid 1970s, Mass concentrates on the Boston reign of James “Whitey” Bulger, a notorious crime kingpin who was able to evade the law due to his status as an FBI informant. Much of his leeway is due to his friendship dating from childhood with agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton). Their union allows Bulger to roam the Bah-ston streets freely while giving up info that has the added benefit of eradicating his North Side Mob enemies. Connolly’s longtime connection leaves him either oblivious to who Whitey really is or perhaps a willful co-conspirator.

The film is told in a predictable flashback style as Whitey’s former associates are being questioned by authorities. For anyone who’s watched the news in the last few years, you’ll probably know the real Bulger successfully was a very wanted fugitive for quite a while. We don’t really become acquainted with these witnesses or the law enforcement agents outside of Connolly, but there’s lots of familiar faces playing them. On the good guy side, we have Kevin Bacon, Corey Stoll, and David Harbour (who is afforded a chilling dinner table scene with the star). Whitey’s henchman are played effectively by Rory Cochrane and Jesse Plemons. Benedict Cumberbatch’s role as Whitey’s politician brother is also underwritten and Dakota Johnson has a brief role as the criminal mastermind’s first wife. The best bit part belongs to Peter Sarsgaard as a coked out associate mixed up with Bulger’s corrupt involvement in World Jai Alai. That subplot, by the way, practically begs for its own feature if done right. Edgerton’s work is commendable and convincing as we slowly learn the dynamics of his relationship with the informant he’s known for decades and the ties that bind them.

Yet this is unquestionably the Johnny Depp Show. His menacing performance, with his giant baby blues and slicked back receding mane, reminds us of just how terrific this man can be. Depp’s trademark eccentricities are on display, but they feel necessary in service to the role he’s playing and not just present for the sake of being weird. It’s something that downgraded recent performances from him and his intense persona here is a breath of fresh and scary air. Truth be told, though, the moments here when Depp’s Bulger is terrorizing his associates are often the only scenes that generate real excitement.

That said, true story or not, little else feels fresh about Black Mass. We’ve seen a number of similar genre tales (some set in Boston) mingling the worlds of crime, law, and politics with greater effectiveness. One that immediately springs to mind is Scorsese’s The Departed, in which Jack Nicholson plays a more fictionalized version of Bulger. Many of the plot points that show up in Mass are contained in The Departed and it’s far more fascinating in the latter. That Boston gang drama earned Best Picture. Black Mass earns credit for allowing Depp to make this role a memorable one. For that reason alone, it’s probably worth a look for his many fans even if the material surrounding it is familiar and a little tiresome.

**1/2 (out of four)

Black Mass Box Office Prediction

Riding a wave of positive buzz generated from film festivals over the weekend, Scott Cooper’s gangster pic Black Mass rolls out in theaters next Friday and the results could be impressive. A true life story focusing on notorious Boston crime kingpin Whitey Bulger, Johnny Depp plays the title character and it’s nabbed him some of the best reviews he’s had in years. There’s even Oscar talk happening, for Depp and possibly the film itself.

The stellar supporting cast includes Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Kevin Bacon, Dakota Johnson, Adam Scott, Peter Sarsgaard, and Corey Stoll. Mass is currently at a pleasing 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. Most importantly, the pic has been well marketed and represents a real choice for adults after the summer blockbusters are now fading.

While the Maze Runner sequel may capture the attention of younger viewers, I look for Black Mass to have a very healthy start. In fact, I believe the chances of it over performing are greater than the alternative. I think it could exceed $30 million out of the gate, but I’ll put it just under.

Black Mass opening weekend prediction: $27.9 million

 

Oscar Watch: Black Mass

From the moment the first trailer for Black Mass (out September 18) appeared, you could sense that something special might be brewing with Johnny Depp’s portrayal of notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. Those feelings have been confirmed over the weekend as the picture screened at both the Venice and Telluride Film Festivals.

Critical consensus bore one thing out: Depp’s chilling performance is fantastic. Variety went as far to claim it’s his career best work. This reaction made him as instant major contender in the Best Actor race. When I made my initial predictions three days ago, I left him outside the top five. I’m questioning that call. That said, it remains to be seen who among my projected five would move outside the cut to put Depp in. Both Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl and Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs seem like real contenders. The most vulnerable performer I predicted may be Michael Caine in Youth, though his legendary status will help. The other two I predicted are question marks as their movies have yet to be screened: Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant and Don Cheadle in Miles Ahead. And there’s certainly plenty of time for other actors to emerge. For Depp, after a series of both commercial and critical disappointments (Mortdecai anyone?), the opportunity for Academy voters to vault him into contention could be too enticing to pass up.

As for the film itself, a Best Picture nod or Director nom for Scott Cooper seems far less assured. While its Rotten Tomatoes meter sits at 100%, reviewers are divided as to whether Black Mass is great or merely good. Supporting players Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, and Kevin Bacon may not factor into the mix.

However, this Labor Day weekend made one item very clear: Johnny Depp is a player in this year’s Oscar derby. A big one.

This Day in Movie History: February 17

30 years ago Today in Movie History – February 17 – Kevin Bacon danced his way into the hearts of moviegoers in Footloose. The picture was an unexpected smash grossing $80 million domestically. Its soundtrack was equally successful featuring Kenny Loggins’ title hit – as well as “Let’s Hear It For The Boy” by Deniece Williams and “Almost Paradise” by Mike Reno and Ann Wilson. A remake would debut in 2010.

As for birthdays, Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown is 78 today. While he’s surely known best for his sports achievements, Mr. Brown has had quite a film career. He costarred in 1967’s The Dirty Dozen and some blaxpoitation titles in the 70s like Slaughter and Black Gunn. More recent appearances include The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mars Attacks!, and Any Given Sunday.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is 33 today. He became known as a youngster on the hit sitcom “3rd Rock from the Sun”. In recent years, his film career exploded with pictures including Brick, (500) Days of Summer, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Inception, 50/50, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, and Lincoln. He made his directorial last fall with Don Jon and will soon appear in the Sin City sequel.

As for Six Degrees of Separation between them:

Jim Brown was in The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger was in The Expendables 2 with Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis was in Looper with Joseph Gordon-Levitt

And that’s today – February 17 – in Movie History!