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…

Remembering Wes Craven

If a Mount Rushmore were to exist for horror film directors, there is no question that Wes Craven would be on it. Eyes wide open. Certainly not sleeping. It was with great sadness that film lovers learned of his death at age 76 due to a battle with brain cancer. His influence has been inescapable and that is no understatement. When I learned of his death, I was watching the MTV VMA’s (a horror show of a different kind) and the network was incessantly running promos for their TV version of Scream, based on the franchise he directed.

For over 40 years, Mr. Craven’s work was synonymous with being on the cutting edge of the horror genre. 1972’s The Last House on the Left and 1977’s The Hills Have Eyes are hard edged genre classics. 1984’s A Nightmare on Elm Street brought the slasher flick to new heights. 1996’s Scream both parodied horror movies while being a brilliantly effective one of its own.

These are the obvious titles that will be discussed with his work but allow me to put forth two more that probably won’t be focused on as much. 1988’s The Serpent and the Rainbow is a voodoo infused underrated effort that is definitely worth a look. 2005’s Red Eye is an effective B movie thriller with taut direction and quality performances from Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy.

Craven is also responsible for 1982’s fun monster pic Swamp Thing and directing Meryl Streep to an Oscar nomination in 1999’s drama Music of My Heart. There were missteps too. His 1995 Eddie Murphy vanity project Vampire in Brooklyn immediately comes to mind. The Scream sequels tended to go down in quality as they continued on.

Yet few filmmakers have defined and redefined a particular genre as much as Wes Craven. His works have and will continue to stand the test of time. One only needs to look at how many of his pictures have already been remade or spawned sequels. The original editions of Elm Street and Scream in particular stand as hallmarks of horror that will continue to make audiences lose sleep and laugh about it forever. When it’s impossible to imagine a genre of film without the contribution of one man, that’s a legacy of greatness. Few directors can make that claim. Wes Craven was one of them. Sleep well, Mr. Craven.

The #1 Movies That May Shock You

So get this… when James Bond made his triumphant return to the silver screen in 2006 with Daniel Craig and Casino Royale, it did not open at #1 at the box office. That’s because it opened against the animated hit Happy Feet and those darn penguins never allowed 007 a top spot.

Yet two years later, the critically massacred Bangkok Dangerous with Nicolas Cage did manage to open atop the charts. This is a picture that’d almost certainly be relegated to a VOD only debut today.

This is one among many surprising examples of films in the last two decades that were fortunate enough to claim that they were the #1 movie in America that you wouldn’t expect. It’s all about timing. And there’s a host of easily forgotten pictures that accomplished the number one feat due to debuting in January or April or September in many cases – often seen as dumping grounds for studios. The reverse holds true. As with Casino Royale and others, the fact that they opened in more competitive weekends prevented them from top dog bragging rights.

Neither Austin Powers (in the original 1997 pic) or Ron Burgundy can claim a first place ribbon. Austin came in second to Kurt Russell’s Breakdown out of the gate. The first Anchorman couldn’t topple the second weekend of Spider-Man 2 in 2004. The 2013 sequel couldn’t get above the second Hobbit flick.

However, David Spade’s Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star somehow hit #1 in 2003 when it came out in the doldrums known as early September. And how about that Classic Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt comedy romp Heartbreakers? It also reigned supreme for a week in April 2001. The 2011 Farrelly Brothers dud Hall Pass with Owen Wilson accomplished the same, but it took his Wedding Crashers three weeks to get to first due to interference from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Even Frozen couldn’t open first and it may be the most beloved kids flick in some time. You know what did? 2003’s Kangaroo Jack and I didn’t see too many kids wearing his Halloween costume…

In 1996, Jean Claudde Van Damme had two #1 premieres with The Quest and Maximum Risk. So did Steven Seagal in 1997 with Fire Down Below and Chris Brown and Hayden Christensen in 2010 with Takers. Much better known action pictures such as Wanted, World War Z, The Day After Tomorrow, and The Bourne Identity cannot claim the same.

How about horror classics Urban Legends: Final Cut, Darkness Falls, The Covenant, The Roommate and The Possession? Number ones they all were. Real genre classics Scream and Saw? Nope.

Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for The Blind Side, but it never got there. Christoph Waltz did for Django Unchained. Same story. These films did open #1 and have a combined zero Oscar nominations among them: Eye of the Beholder and The Musketeer from 2001. SwimFan in 2002. The Forgotten (how appropriate) in 2004. Glory Road in 2006. Lakeview Terrace in 2010.

So, as you can see, longevity counts in box office world and being #1 doesn’t always equate to adoration. Just ask James Bond. And then ask Dickie Roberts.

My Top 25 Michael Jackson Songs Of All Time: Nos. 15-11

Continuing along with my personal Top 25 Michael Jackson Songs Of All Time – tonight comes part three with numbers 15 through 11. You can read my two previous posts covering 25-16 here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/05/13/my-top-25-michael-jackson-songs-of-all-time-nos-25-21/

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/05/14/my-top-25-michael-jackson-songs-of-all-time-nos-20-16/

15. “I Wanna Be Where You Are” (from Got To Be There – 1972)

MJ’s oldest song on the list was released when he was just 13 years old and certainly sounds more Jackson 5 than anything else on here with its Motown roots. It reached #2 on the R&B chart. It’s not too well-known anymore, but it should be. This is the only song on the list pre-Off the Wall from 1979, but other noteworthy early MJ songs include “Got To Be There”, “Ben”, and “We’re Almost There”.

14. “Scream” (from HIStory – 1995)

The lead off single from 1995’s HIStory is from mega-producers Jam&Lewis and features his only duet with his sister Janet. It’s my highest track listed from that album, but other quality songs include “They Don’t Care About Us”, “Stranger in Moscow”, “This Time Around”, and “Smile”.

13. “Black or White” (from Dangerous – 1991)

The lead single from 1991’s Dangerous featured a controversial video that included Macaulay Culkin and MJ turning into a panther, but it’s a fantastic song with memorable guitar work from Guns&Roses’ Slash. This is the final Dangerous track included. Those that missed the cut but are great include “Jam”, “Who Is It”, and “Give In To Me”.

12. “Thriller” (from Thriller – 1982)

The title track from the bestselling album of all time is a Halloween time classic with one of the best known music videos ever shot. While one of his most famous songs, there’s plenty of other Thriller tracks still to come in top ten.

11. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” (from Off the Wall – 1979)

The first single from his breakout solo work Off the Wall is a disco-infused club jam that marked MJ’s first #1 single on his own. The track also gave the artist his music video as a solo artist — a medium he would perfect better than anyone before or since.

Tomorrow – we get into the Top Ten! Stay tuned.

This Day in Movie History: December 20

Continuing with my new blog series – This Day in Movie History – December 20th brings us three more important films celebrating their anniversaries and two celebrity birthdays.

It was seventeen years ago today that the influential horror flick Scream opened. Wes Craven was already a legend in the horror genre for The Last House on the Left and especially A Nightmare on Elm Street. Scream would turn into a smash unexpected hit that spawned three sequels and injected some much needed humor and irony into a genre that was growing stale.

22 years ago today marked the opening of Oliver Stone’s controversial JFK. The picture, no matter what you think of its abundant conspiracy theories, is brauvura filmmaking at a high level and earned Oscar nominations for Picture, Director, and Supporting Actor for Tommy Lee Jones.

Another heavily Oscar nominated pic, Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, debuted eleven years ago today. It was considered an Academy heavyweight, but lost Picture and Director to Chicago. It would be four years later before Marty would finally be recognized at the ceremony for The Departed. The film is also notable for beginning the Scorsese/DiCaprio partnership that has since spanned to five films thus far.

Today marks Jonah Hill’s big 3-0! You may know him from some of your favorite comedies of the past near decade – The 40 Yr. Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, 21 Jump Street, and This is The End. He also broke out dramatically in 2011 with an Oscar nominated turn in Moneyball and is again receiving Academy buzz for his role in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. He’ll be seen next summer in the sequel 22 Jump Street.

Finally, today would have marked the 67th birthday of character actor John Spencer. Known to most viewers as Leo McGarry from TV’s “The West Wing”, Spencer also had a successful film career. He turned up in well-known titles including Sea of Love, Presumed Innocent, The Rock, and Cop Land.

Keeping with my theme of connecting the birthday actors in Six Degrees of Separation:

Jonah Hill was in This is the End with James Franco

James Franco was in City by the Sea with Robert De Niro

Robert De Niro was in Cop Land with John Spencer

And that’s today, December 20, in Movie History!