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A Look at The Biggest Box Office Stories from 1972-present (THABOS: The History of Amazing Box Office Stories) | IT'S FINALLY COMPLETE!!!!!!!

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Pope Benedict XVI succeeds John Paul II, four suicide bombings hit London, and Hurricane Katrina ravages the city of New Orleans. Jyllands-Posten draws controversial images of Muhammed, prompting intense Muslim backlash, Angela Merkel becomes the first woman Chancellor in Germany, and YouTube is created, becoming one of the biggest websites in history and an important way for Hollywood to advertise upcoming movies. Funny enough, it'll actually become important for a couple movies.


For television, two successful revivals emerged. The first was Doctor Who, with Christopher Eccleston appearing first, only to be replaced one season later with David Tennant. Based on the famed BBC science fiction series, this revival would then go on to be one of the most iconic UK series, still running with a new actor every couple of years. The second was Family Guy, which after being canceled on its third season, became a huge hit on Cartoon Network’s late-night block Adult Swim, and would go on to be one of the longest-running television shows in history. At the same time, several shows saw their debut in 2005, including Grey’s Anatomy, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Supernatural, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Colbert Report, How I Met Your Mother, and The Office.


In music, Carrie Underwood won season 4 of American Idol, and would then go on to be one of the biggest country stars ever. Gaming saw the beginning of the seventh generation of consoles with the release of the Xbox 360, alongside the releases of God of War, Psychonauts, Resident Evil 4, and Shadow of the Colossus.


The box office was a bit of a slower year. Not bad by any stretch of the imagination, and records were still broken, but after Spider-Man and Shrek 2’s 400M glory, and Return of the King earning a billion, 2005 was a bit more low-key. However, there were still plenty of hits to go around.


And the biggest hit of that year, at least in the US and Canada, was the conclusion of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Taking place three years after the events of Attack of the Clones, this is where Anakin goes from an angsty teen to the apprentice of Emperor Palpatine and the truly diabolical Darth Vader, causing irreparable damage to the galaxy.


Episode III’s screenplay was written just before Attack of the Clones’ release. Reportedly, Lucas wasn’t completely happy with how Anakin would fall into the dark side, which caused a fair share of screenplay changes. Instead of opening the film with a montage of Clone War battles, the opening would instead focus on Anakin and have the first act end with him killing Count Dooku, beginning his fall to evil. There was also a shift during reshoots and pick-ups to emphasize that Anakin’s fall into the Dark Side was in order to save Padme.


The film’s screenplay also planned to have way more connections to the original trilogy. A 10-year old Han Solo was set to appear, but the role was scrapped. There was also going to be a scene where Palpatine reveals he created Anakin from midichlorians, basically meaning he’s Anakin’s daddy, a parallel to Vader telling Luke he’s his daddy, but that was also scrapped. Qui Gon Jinn was set to appear in a conversation with Yoda as a Force Ghost, with Liam Neeson set to appear, but the scene was never filmed, although it was in the novelization. Neeson would return to voice Jinn for an episode of the hit animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.




Speaking of filming, the crew found their 2003 schedule to be convenient timing, as Mount Etna erupted in Italy. Camera crews were sent on location to shoot several angles of the volcano that would later be used for the final battle at Mustafar. Another interesting tidbit was that this was the first time the actor playing Anakin also played the suited Darth Vader. Originally some tall guy would be in the Vader suit, but Hayden Christensen persuaded Lucas to have him in the Vader suit, resulting in a new costume that featured shoe lifts and a muscle suit. Christensen was forced to see through the helmet’s mouthpiece.


Another interesting aspect of the film’s production was its camera setup. For key dramatic scenes, Lucas used the “V technique”, where two cameras shoot footage at the same time, allowing several angles of the same performance, making it easier to edit and more believable. The film’s HD technology was also beneficial to the film’s production, because now footage could be sent to the editors the same day it was shot.


Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the movie among fans, outside of seeing the glorious return of Vader, was the film’s title. There were countless titles that hit the rumor mill, like Birth of the Empire, Rise of the Empire, and even The Creeping Fear of all titles. However, the unique aspect of Revenge of the Sith as a final title was how it paralleled Episode VI. For the longest time, Return of the Jedi was set to be titled Revenge of the Jedi, but just weeks before its premiere, George Lucas changed Revenge into Return, because the Jedi don’t seek revenge...wimps.




After a slew of charity screenings on May 12 and 13, as well as a debut at Cannes on May 16, Revenge of the Sith was finally released to the public on May 19, the same day as Phantom Menace, Return of the Jedi, and the OG Star Wars movie. It was interesting to note that due to the more intense action, specifically Vader being set aflame by lava and molten rock, this was the first Star Wars film to earn a PG-13 rating, which would become a fixture of the franchise in the years to come. And on that very day, the records were already broken. Midnight screenings tallied up to $16.9 million, toppling Return of the King’s $8 million. In terms of the overall total, that led to about $50 million, becoming the biggest opening day of all time, the biggest single day gross of all time, and the biggest Thursday gross of all time.


Its first 4 days tallied to $158.5 million, making it the biggest 4-Day weekend ever, and its $108.4 million FSS was just behind Spider-Man. The film also saw records internationally, earning $144.7 million over 5 days, passing the $130 million Return of the King earned at the same time. Thanks to reviews citing it as the best of the trilogy, and the excitement over seeing Vader and the wrap-up of all six movies, the film trucked its way to bigger and bigger numbers every day. It tied Spider-Man 2 by reaching $200 million in eight days, became the fastest film to reach $300 million in 17 days, and was the third-fastest film to reach $350 million.




All told, the film finished its run with $380.3 million, making it the second-biggest Star Wars movie domestic behind Phantom Menace (if you exclude re-releases of course). And all told, Revenge of the Sith finished up its run with $868.3 million worldwide, becoming the second biggest film of 2005.


These numbers were accomplished despite the fact the film was already leaked ahead of time. Days before its premiere, a workprint of the movie was leaked onto file sharing sites that was reportedly from somebody in the industry. Eight figures would be charged for copyright infringement, though it would lead to a humorous bootleg in Shanghai with heavily mistranslated subtitles that became a source of mockery.


Since then, Revenge of the Sith has lived on as a favorite amongst Star Wars fans, both for its gripping content and meme potential, and while the prequel trilogy was considered a bit shaky, it’s fair to say Star Wars, as a film property, went out with one last triumphant hurrah.


Or did it?????????



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Second place domestic, third worldwide saw The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, based on the CS Lewis series. It’s the story of the Pensevive children, a family forced to evacuate their home during the Blitz to a countryside home. It is in that home they discover a magical wardrobe that when opened leads to a magical fantasy world known as Narnia. It is there the children learn it has been taken over by an evil sorceress known as the White Witch, and they are prophesied to save the land of Narnia with the help of a heroic lion named Aslan.


With over 100 million copies sold, Narnia had seen several adaptations via TV, radio, and even stage. So naturally, film wasn’t far behind, but it took a while to come into fruition. In the early 1990s, Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy spearheaded the idea. However, the team could not find a space to shoot the film in Britain, and Lewis’ stepson Douglas Gresham was against the movie being set in modern times and felt CG technology couldn’t replicate the world of Narnia just yet.


In 2000, Perry Moore, an executive at the then-unknown Walden Media, began negotiations with the Lewis estate. Sure enough, Walden Media acquired the rights in December 2001. Later on, Disney, who had worked with Walden Media on films like Ghosts of the Abyss, Holes, and Around the World in 80 Days, would be the distributors, and another instance of Disney dipping their toes into competing with the likes of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, the latter of which has always been a common comparison with Narnia.


In fact, one of the biggest influences of the film during its development was the massive success of Harry Potter. Potter’s success as a passionately British story gave the producers confidence for the film to be faithful to its novel. Says producer Mark Johnson, "When The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was being developed at Paramount, the imperative was to set it in the U.S., and it just doesn't hold. [...] It's not the book." Because Harry Potter was so successful with American audiences, especially kids, with British actors, accents, and setting in tow, there was a sense the film didn’t need to Americanize itself. This would be very beneficial to the film's success.




Guillermo del Toro was offered to direct, but bowed out due to the filming of Pan’s Labyrinth. So after an Academy Award win, Shrek director Andrew Adamson would take the helm, adapting the book with a 20-page treatment based on his own nostalgic memories of the novel. Weta Workshop, who worked on the VFX for Lord of the Rings, wanted to make sure Narnia stood out compared to Middle-Earth, so the art direction was less dark and gritty, taking influence from the famous oil painting The Garden of Earthly Delights.


As for the casting, this was probably the hardest aspect. Being a film focused on kids, Adamson needed child actors who were able to sell the movie and get people invested. This resulted in Adamson, beginning in 2002, viewing 2,500 audition tapes, meeting 1,800 kids, and workshopping with 400 of them before coming down to the final actors for the Pevensie children: William Moseley as Peter, Anna Popplewell as Susan, Skandar Keynes as Edmund, and Georgie Henley as Lucy. Brian Cox was set to voice Aslan, but Adamson felt his voice wasn’t the best fit, so Liam Neeson took over the voice.


Having a cast of young actors who don’t have the same level of experience as adult actors was going to be a challenge, but Andrew Adamson played things pretty smart. The film was shot in primarily chronological order, so as the actors felt like they were developing and maturing much like their characters. And when it comes to the introduction of Narnia, those emotions were genuine too. Revealed in the Disney+ documentary series Prop Culture (which everyone should watch by the way), Georgie Henley, the actress playing the youngest child Lucy, was never shown the set of Narnia before filming began. So when she actually steps through the wardrobe, which connected itself to the actual snowy set, Henley was actually seeing the magical winter wonderland for the first time, and reacting as any little girl would. This helped sell the world of Narnia to the audience. We were Lucy stepping into such an enchanting world.




The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was released on December 9, and it’s fair to say, especially with it opening a week before Jackson’s King Kong, its opening shocked everyone. Its debut was a massive $65.6 million, which made it the second biggest December debut, and Disney’s third-biggest opening, only behind The Incredibles and Finding Nemo. And with Narnia’s Christmas themes, as well as immense appeal toward family audiences, this became the film of the December holidays, with a final total of $291.7 million, with $745 million worldwide.


There’s a lot to be said about the film’s success. The popularity of the books and the fantasy genre helped the film, and solid reviews kept its momentum going. But I think what makes this film interesting was how it served as the last film in what was a murder’s row for Disney at the time. With some exceptions, Disney failed to really achieve the same financial success with live-action as they did with animation. It’s why Eisner was so skittish about making Pirates of the Caribbean at that $140 million price point.


And yet in three years, not only did Disney see three hit live-action films, they were all big-budget releases that became some of that year’s biggest hits, and all had major franchise potential. Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure, and Narnia all got people invested and engaged in what seemed to be wacky ideas. A movie based on a theme park ride, a Nic Cage American treasure hunt, and a CS Lewis fantasy adventure all seemed like they would be risky at best or foolish to make at worst. But when you have creatives who know what they’re doing, you just need to have the confidence to let the movie shine and get people excited.


Since then, all three movies would develop their own franchise, and all of them would have their own unique track records. And of course, in a day and age where Disney doesn’t need such franchises in a post-Marvel/Lucasfilm society, it’s hard to see Disney giving ideas like these time to stand. But there’s something special about these risky ventures that makes them entertaining and special nonetheless, and shows the need for risk-taking and creativity in the film industry.


Behind Narnia domestically by a nose, but above worldwide and then some was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Focusing on Harry’s fourth year, this sees the Boy Who Lived taking part in the Triwizard Tournament, a massive competition between several other schools. All the while, Harry finds himself dealing with nightmares that seem to indicate He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has returned.


Despite the acclaim and success of Prisoner of Azkaban, Alfonso Cuaron was only interested in making one movie, and the way the production schedule worked made it difficult for him to work on Goblet anyways. And so this film was handed over to Mike Newell, then known for Four Weddings and a Funeral. Funny enough, this was the first time a British director helmed a Potter movie.


For the screenplay, Steve Kloves found himself taking a lot of liberties from the source material. At the time, Goblet of Fire was the longest Harry Potter book, with each page dense with detail and material. Kloves initially planned out the idea of adapting the book into two movies, but failed to find a convincing point where the book could be broken into two. For examples of what was taken out, Pivet Drive isn’t shown at all, while the game at the Quidditch World Cup was removed entirely.




Anyways, the highlight of Goblet of Fire, both in the book and movie, was the Triwizard Tournament, a series of three fantasy sporting events competed against England’s three wizarding schools that tested the combatants in their magical ability, intelligence, and courage. These events required some of the biggest sets the series ever had at that time. The first task, involving Harry facing off against a dragon, was a rock quarry so large it had to be built on two sections of Leavesden Studios. The second task, taking place underwater, required a giant blue screen tank containing half a million gallons of water. The third and final task, a giant hedge maze, featured hedge walls ranging from 20 to 40 feet tall, enhanced further by CGI.


Other interesting tidbits come from its rating and lawsuit. Like Revenge of the Sith, Goblet of Fire became the very first film in the Potter series to earn a PG-13, representing the darker, more serious direction the series was going on, as the characters developed and matured. This would define the series for the next few movies to come, with the exception of Half-Blood Prince for some reason. Another issue came from a band name. The producers approached the Canadian folk group Wyrd Sisters to obtain permission to use the name The Weird Sisters. When a deal could not be made, Wyrd Sisters filed a $40 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. and the members of the in-movie band for the misuse of the group’s name. This would be settled in March 2010 with a secret settlement.




But enough about that. Now it’s box office time. Opening on November 18, Goblet of Fire’s $102 million was a game changer for the box office and the series. Not only was it the biggest November opening, it also served as the biggest Potter opening. It was also the first time a movie opened to $100 million outside of May.


It was yet another instance of Potter continuing to grow, at least in its OW. And thanks to it opening the weekend before Thanksgiving, as well as positive reviews, Goblet of Fire managed to have better legs than Prisoner of Azkaban, and earn a very strong $290 million domestically, making it the second-biggest Potter release at that time. Overseas was of course even greater, earning $605.9 million internationally, adding up to a mind-boggling $895.9 million worldwide. This made Goblet of Fire the biggest movie worldwide that year, and was the eighth highest-grossing film of all time.


Goblet of Fire was also unique in how it saw a boost from IMAX. This was far from the first feature film to see an IMAX DMR process. In fact, Prisoner of Azkaban had it one year ago. But with the format gaining more and more recognition and popularity, this led to Goblet of Fire seeing box office help. $2.8 million of its opening weekend came from IMAX theaters, a record at the time, and $20 million of the movie’s worldwide haul came from IMAX. Seems minuscule, but it showed the validity of the format in bringing people in, and nowadays every blockbuster gets at least one week of IMAX play. Alongside Batman Begins and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the same year, as well as films like The Polar Express last year, this made IMAX and WB very good friends and partners, with them continuing to have great deals that benefit the company’s movies.


Fourth by all accounts was War of the Worlds, a joint venture between Paramount and Dreamworks Pictures. Tom Cruise plays a recently divorced man who finds himself looking after his estranged children for the weekend. But soon, he finds himself forced to look out for his children and try to reunite them with their mother as aliens invade the Earth.


After the success of Minority Report, Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg were very interested in working together on another project. During the filming of Catch Me If You Can, Cruise went onto the set and talked with Spielberg about their next project. And out of the three ideas they had, the one they both agreed upon was an adaptation of the HG Wells story The War of the Worlds. This would serve as Spielberg’s third film about alien visitation, and would be the antithesis to the characters, tone, and themes of Close Encounters and E.T.




J. J. Abrams was approached to write, but turned it down as he was developing Lost. Josh Friedman would then take the mantle, with re-writes provided by David Koepp. Koepp decided he wanted the script following a single narrator, with somebody on the periphery of events rather than an active member. He also had a checklist of “don’ts” for the movie, refusing to have anything that could be considered cliche, like landmark buildings being destroyed.


Spielberg was a fan of Freidman and Koepp’s work, as it had many similarities to his own personal life. He grew up with divorced parents, and the plight of the characters reflected his own uncertainties after the September 11 terrorist attacks. In fact, 9/11 was a very integral part of the movie. It’s a film that tackles civilians running and trying to save themselves and their family instead of fighting back. It’s a film that has bystanders struggling to survive and handle the fear that has impacted their home turf. These conflicting emotions were still in the cornerstone of American paranoia.


While Koepp did not want to put explicit references to 9/11 or the Iraq War, he did mention the scene where Justin Chatwin joins the Marines was inspired by teenagers fighting in the Gaza Strip. “I was thinking of teenagers in Gaza throwing bottles and rocks at tanks, and I think that when you're that age you don't fully consider the ramifications of what you're doing and you're very much caught up in the moment and passion, whether that's a good idea or not."


Filming took place over 73 days, with only three months of pre-production, half of what’s usually allotted for big-budget movies like this. Regardless, Spielberg did mention he felt he had a perfect amount of time to work on the movie. One of the most popular scenes was a neighborhood plane crash. For that moment, the production crew brought in a retired Boeing 747, dismantled it into several pieces, and built houses around them in what was an incredible-looking effect. Since then, the dismantled plane lives on in the Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood.




During production and marketing, Spielberg was adamant in shrouding the film in mystery. Aspects like the look of the aliens were kept out of the public viewing, as even the cast and crew were not given that information. Spielberg would often only give a section of the script to people, relating to what somebody was doing that day. With such secrecy, Cruise’s starpower, and alien action, War of the Worlds opened on June 29 to great success. Its first six days amounted to $112.7 million, with $64.5 million for FSS. This made it the second biggest Fourth of July debut ever, only behind Spider-Man 2, as well as Tom Cruise’s biggest opening ever, usurping Mission: Impossible II. The FSS also served as the fourth biggest July opening. This set the movie up well, with a final total of $234.3 million domestic and $603.9 million worldwide.


But ultimately, the success of War of the Worlds wasn’t quite enough to help Tom Cruise out. In May 2005, Cruise appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to promote the movie. There, he went off script, jumped on Oprah’s couch and declared his love to his wife Katie Holmes. Not only did it become an easy source for parody, but out of context, it made Tom Cruise look a bit crazy. Or at least, crazier than usual. And seeing as how this clip came out just when YouTube was founded and online gossip sites began their rise, it made Tom Cruise a bit of a pariah, as the one thing everybody was talking about wasn’t his new movie, but him jumping on a couch.


This would sour Cruise’s image to the public. He would go on to have a public fight with Brooke Shields for her using Paxil, got into a fight in an interview with horrible person Matt Lauer, and has become one of the biggest advocates for Scientology. He’s been considered a bit of a joke in today’s climate, and while he still gets consistent work and a solid audience that see his movies, he’s still very much a punchline. Spielberg went on to say his relations with Cruise soured during the press tour and his further endeavors, believing his antics hurt the film. The two have yet to work on another project together.


Fifth place by all accounts was the glorious return of Peter Jackson with his remake of King Kong. It’s the story of a filmmaking team traveling to the mysterious Skull Island, home of prehistoric creatures, savage natives (yikes), and a massive 25 feet tall gorilla known as Kong, who would then be captured and taken to New York City.


I don’t think King Kong needs any introduction. Since its release in 1933, it has been considered one of the greatest and most important films in history, with its groundbreaking effects and influence on horror movies, monster movies, and blockbuster movies. And one of its biggest fans was a young Peter Jackson. He saw the movie when he was nine years old, and was in tears when Kong slipped off the Empire State Building. This film would inspire him to become a filmmaker and has since been his favorite film of all time.


During production of The Frighteners, Universal was very impressed over Jackson’s work and offered him a chance to direct a remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon. He turned down the idea, but after Universal learned about his obsession with King Kong, they offered him a new proposition to direct a remake of the film he loved so much. Jackson was hesitant, but upon the fear of another director doing a terrible job, he signed on for the project.


At the same time, Jackson was still in negotiations with Miramax over purchasing the film rights to Lord of the Rings. But because garbage human Harvey Weinstein was taking too long to buy the rights, Jackson jumped ship to Universal over his Kong movie. Weinstein was furious, so a compromise was made. Both Universal and Miramax would co-finance the project, with Universal getting domestic distribution rights, while Miramax would get international. This also included Jackson earning final cut privilege, creative control, and a cut of the profits. The deal was settled in 1996, and the script was underway.


Universal would then approve the script, with Robert Zemeckis signing on executive producer. Pre-production went underway, with filming set for 1997 and a release date in 1998. Jackson even got into negotiations with Kate Winslet during the filming of Titanic for her to play Ann Darrow. However, development came to a halt in 1997. Universal took note over the other projects in development. A Godzilla reimagining from Roland Emmerich. A Mighty Joe Young remake over at Disney. A Planet of the Apes remake that Jackson was almost attached to. There were just too many monkey and monster movies for Universal’s liking, so the film was scrapped, despite six months of pre-production over at Weta, and none of these movies being very good in the end.




So Peter Jackson decided he would work on Lord of the Rings instead. From what I can gather, it did alright. And with those movies doing alright, Jackson approached Universal in January 2003 to restart production on his Kong project. Universal, because they like money, set a December 2005 release date on the project. Jackson offered New Line a chance to co-finance the project, but they declined. Filming began with a new script in September 2004.


Initially the plan for the movie was a $150 million budget, that then rose to $175 million. But due to more visual effects work as well as Jackson adding thirty more minutes to the running time, this resulted in a then-record $207 million budget, with Jackson himself paying for the extra money. Universal approved after seeing the film’s rough cut.


The one aspect of the film that made it unique were its visuals, specifically its motion capture technology. Jackson felt the film would be a breakthrough, which meant King Kong would actually be performed by an actor in a bodysuit, specifically Andy Serkis. Jackson and the VFX team studied hours of gorilla footage while Serkis traveled to Rwanda to observe the actions and behaviors of gorillas. This all resulted in realistic facial expressions and movements that made it feel like King Kong was alive.




The marketing campaign for the movie kicked off on June 27, with a trailer debut on Volkswagen’s website, as well as debuts on NBC, Bravo, CNBC, and MSNBC. The trailer also played in front of War of the Worlds. At the same time, Jackson also published production diaries online. Tailored toward the fanbase he earned after The Lord of the Rings, these diaries were edited into three or four minute featurettes that would usually be found on a making-of documentary found on the DVD, all to build up the hype for his next big project.


King Kong would open on December 14, with a $66.2 million debut from Wednesday to Sunday. And with positive reviews, King Kong would go on to earn great success, in spite of Narnia’s surprising numbers. $218 million domestic, $562.4 million worldwide, more than two and a half times its hefty production budget. Its DVD release in 2006 would see the film earn $194 million in sales in just North America alone, with more than 7.6 million copies sold.


And yet despite the obvious success...it was kind of seen as a disappointment. Universal and the industry hyped this movie up big time. Ads were everywhere, and the idea of the Lord of the Rings guy directing a film as iconic and beloved as King Kong seemed like a slam dunk, with Universal estimating an opening of about $75 million, which would be on par with what Fellowship of the Ring did back in 2001. So having it open far below Jackson’s other movies, as well as having weaker legs, as the film was not the critical darling as the Rings trilogy...while not bad, it could have really done more. So before Age of Ultron and Rise of Skywalker, 2005’s King Kong was one of the first “hit but not really” movies. Gotta start somewhere I guess.


But that’s not the end of Jackson’s King Kong. In fall 2006, a three-disc Extended Edition DVD was released with 12 minutes added to the film, making it totaled to 200 minutes (Je. Sus.), as well as an extra forty minutes worth of special features. Universal Hollywood saw King Kong: 360 3-D as a part of the Studio Tour in 2010, and in 2016, Universal’s Islands of Adventures in Florida saw the ride Skull Island: Reign of Kong.

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Sixth place would see the comedy Wedding Crashers. This starred Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson as two divorce mediators who crash weddings so they can hook up with bridesmaids and women. Boy that’s...interesting. The two hit the jackpot when they crash the wedding of the daughter of the United States Secretary of Treasury, and it’s there the two find themselves hooking up with the Secretary’s other daughters. Owen Wilson falls in love with Rachel McAdams, while Vince Vaughn gets forced into a relationship by Isla Fisher. Hi-jinx ensue!


This comedy came from the personal experience of co-producer Andrew Panay. Panay was a wedding crasher in his youth and thought the idea had potential for a movie. And so Panay brought the idea over to writers Steve Faber and Bob Fisher. While the team were unsure about stretching the idea to feature-length, the one thing that helped them with the project was the idea of having Vaughn and Wilson hook up with women born from a political family. Faber and Fisher dreamed about marrying one of the Kennedy girls when they were kids, so the idea was perfect, and the film was made.


Being a movie that features a politician character, a couple interesting cameos emerged. CNN contributor and Democratic strategist James Carville was one, but the late Senator and 2008 presidential nominee John McCain of all people popped up. This saw a lot of criticism, as McCain was very adamantly against films like Wedding Crashers: R-rated movies that marketed themselves to teenagers. Go figure! Will Ferrell got a cameo too.




Speaking of the R rating, that was a contentious part of production. Director David Dobkin felt an R would have made the film limit its box office potential. American Pie aside, PG-13 was the way to go if you wanted to make good money. However, after a consultant gave him a long list of the R-rated elements in the film, Dobkin realized the two funniest scenes would have to be cut. So an R rating it is. And wouldn’t you know it, it panned out beautifully.


Opening on July 15, the film debuted at #2 to $33.9 million. It not only became New Line’s biggest original opening ever, but it actually opened ahead of previous Wilson and Vaughn vehicles like Starsky & Hutch and Dodgeball. So much for that R rating killing its numbers. People loved the concept and its two leads, and the film stood out in a marketplace dominated by action movies and family fare. Thanks to positive reviews, summer weekdays, and strong word-of-mouth, the hits just kept on coming for the movie.


The following weekend only saw the movie drop 19%, generating a $26.2 million second weekend. Weekend 3 was only 22%, with $20.5 million. Next was only a 20% drop, with $16.5 million. Basically, it wasn’t until mid-September there was an above-average drop. All told, the film finished with about 6.17 times its opening weekend for a grand total of $209.2 million domestically. Worldwide amounted to $288.5 million.


The film’s success was a game changer. Not only did it continue the hot streak Wilson and Vaughn were on, but it also reinvigorated interest in R-rated comedies. As it turns out, people like laughs with more raunch, more edge, and more language. This, alongside The 40-Year Old Virgin, would give us future hits like Knocked Up, The Hangover, Bridesmaids, 21 Jump Street, Ted, Neighbors, and more, before inevitably the capitalist hellscapes of all tentpoles all the time sealed their fate and killed R-rated comedies forever..


Regardless, it was a hit, and it’s fair to say the risks paid off. In 2013, Vaughn and Wilson teamed up again in a pseudo sequel The Internship, which saw the pair as interns at Google, though it didn’t come anywhere close to Crashers’ success. In 2016, negotiations were reportedly made for a Wedding Crashers sequel, but nothing else seems to have come out of it.


Seventh domestic, eighth worldwide was Tim Burton’s attempt at adapting Roald Dahl with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Coincidentally, this came out the same day as Wedding Crashers. It follows a dirt poor boy named Charlie Bucket who gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he finds a Golden Ticket in a Wonka bar, the most famous chocolate brand in the world. Along with four other children, Charlie meets the isolated and eccentric owner Willy Wonka, and soon takes a tour of Wonka’s magical chocolate factory.


Most people are familiar with this story with the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, produced by Quaker Oats. Yes really. Despite its cult following and consideration as a family classic, one man who hated the film was Roald Dahl, the author of the 1964 children’s novel. Despite writing the film’s screenplay, it would soon see uncredited rewrites by David Seltzer, who completely reworked the script against Dahl’s wishes, changing the ending and adding musical numbers. Dahl was furious with these changes and disowned the 1971 film entirely.


And so, when it was time for a remake, Warner Bros. personally negotiated with the Dahl estate, specifically Dahl’s widow Felicity and daughter Lucy, to get a new film version made. In 1998, a deal was finalized, which gave the Dahl estate complete creative control on the project. Out of Sight writer Scott Frank was in charge of the screenplay in 1999, while Gary Ross was set to direct, but both men left the project in 2001. Nicolas Cage was also in consideration to play Willy Wonka, which would have been amazing, but he left due to lack of interest.


The next screenwriter was Gwyn Lurie, who also wrote a treatment for The BFG at Paramount that never got made. The directors went in and out over the next couple years. Rob Minkoff and even Martin Scorsese were attached, but both opted for other projects. Warner Bros. president Alan Horn wanted Bruce Almighty director Tom Shadyac to direct with Jim Carrey as Wonka, but Felicity Dahl opposed it.


Finally, Felicity found her match. Tim Burton was hired in May 2003, and was the only director the estate liked. Burton loved both Dahl and the original book, and was not a fan of the 1971 Wonka film for it straying too far away from the storyline, and his imaginative world and style made it seem like he was a good fit. During pre-production, Burton visited Dahl’s former home, and when he saw Dahl’s writing shed, Burton said “This is the Buckets’ house!” It was at that moment Felcitity Dahl knew this was in good hands. Lurie’s screenplay would later be scrapped with John August writing the film all over again.


As for casting, the role of Willy Wonka was crucial, with negotiations or considerations from every A-lister in Hollywood. Nicolas Cage and Jim Carrey were already mentioned. There was also Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, Will Smith, Mike Myers, Ben Stiller, Leslie Nielsen, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Patrick Stewart, Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman, and Marilyn Manson. Yes, that Marilyn Manson. However, the role was actually given to Johnny Depp, though Dwayne Johnson was considered a runner-up if Depp was unavailable.




Depp and Burton wanted their interpretation of Wonka to be unique and unlike what Gene Wilder created. While comparisons to Michael Jackson were commonly used, the duo mainly derived from children’s television hosts like Bob Keeshan, Fred Rogers, and Al Harris. Depp also noted similarities between Howard Hughes and Charles Foster Kane. Depp also based Wonka’s bob cut and sunglasses on Anna Wintour.


Similar to Narnia, Burton knew there was a limitation when it came to child actors. So when it came to the visual effects, Burton wanted as little digital effects as possible. This meant that forced perspective, oversized props, and scale models were created, allowing the kids to feel as if they really were in a magical chocolate factory. Even the chocolate river Wonka’s boat sails across was 192,000 gallons of faux melted chocolate.


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory opened on July 17. With the legacy of the 1971 film, as well as Johnny Depp fresh off of Pirates, Charlie opened to $56.2 million, becoming Depp’s biggest opening, as well as Burton’s second-biggest opening, only behind Planet of the Apes. That weekend also served as the fifth best for July and the fifth best for Warner Bros. The film would continue to play well in the weeks to come with about $206.5 million domestically and $475 million worldwide.


But despite good reviews, not everybody was impressed. Johnny Depp’s performance garnered heavy criticism for being too weird and annoying, and it’s largely considered that Burton’s film was inferior, though it has its fans. Perhaps its biggest detractor comes in the hands of Gene Wilder. While Wilder is a huge fan of both Burton and Depp, he felt as if remaking Willy Wonka was a cash-grab, and chose not to see the film for years. He saw promotional material of Depp in the role and what he saw made him want to avoid the movie. That musta hurt. In 2013, Wilder mentioned, I’m assuming having seen the movie, he thought the film was an insult and criticized Burton’s direction.


But hey, at least it’s better than when Tom and Jerry remade it (yes, really)


Eighth domestic, ninth worldwide was the beginning of Papa Nolan’s future domination with Batman Begins. When it comes to the fifth Batman movie, it’s been a long time coming. Initially Joel Schumacher was set to direct another Batman film after Batman and Robin inevitably becomes a critical and commercial darling. Titled Batman Unchained, Clooney, O’Donnell and Silverstone were set to reprise their roles, and the villains would include Scarecrow (played by Coolio) and Harley Quinn. Then Batman and Robin came out. I’ll leave it at that.


So in 2000, Warner Bros. was looking at two potential projects. One was a live-action adaptation of the animated series Batman Beyond, but another was Batman: Year One, based on the Frank Miller comic book arc. While Schumacher was interested, Darren Aronofsky was handed over the project, directing and co-writing with Frank Miller. Christain Bale was approached for the role of Batman (hmm...), and Aronofsky really wanted Joaquin Phoenix for the part, though Warner Bros. was gunning for Freddie Prinze, Jr. for some reason. Ultimately, the plan was scrapped in favor of Batman vs. Superman, which did not come to be for...reasons we'll get  to when we get to 2016.


In December 2002, Joss Whedon pitched a reboot origin story for Batman, but it was rejected. However, the idea of an origin story lived on when Warner Bros. attached Memento director Christopher Nolan to their next Batman film. Nolan, with writer David S. Goyer, wanted to reinvent the franchise by going back to basics. Specifically, showcase how Bruce Wayne became the Bat we all know and love today, and give him more of a character. Nolan felt the previous Batman adaptations emphasized style over character and put too much attention on the villain than the hero, and wanted to make the Batman film he wanted as a kid.


Nolan’s main inspiration was The Man Who Falls, a short story that saw Bruce Wayne’s travels throughout the world, and was the basis for Nolan’s journey into becoming Batman and training  under Ra’s al Ghul. Batman: The Long Halloween, Batman: Dark Victory, and Batman: Year One were also influences. Another aspect of Nolan’s production was a more realistic take on the Batman myth. While previous interpretations of Gotham City did not exist in the real world, Nolan used exteriors of London, New York, and Chicago to help make the city seem recognizable. The Batmobile was also turned into a Tumbler, and the Batsuit became a lot more comfortable to move around in and fight.


As for the casting of Bruce Wayne himself, actors like Henry Cavill, Billy Crudup, Hugh Dancy, David Boreanaz, Jake Gyllenhaal, Cillian Murphy, and Heath Ledger were considered, but the role was given to Christian Bale, then a relative unknown better known for indie releases. Bale agreed with Nolan that Batman was underutilized in previous adaptations compared to the villains, and both Nolan and Goyer felt Bale captured the perfect balance of darkness and light, as well as selling both Bruce Wayne and Batman. Before production started, Bale lost 62 pounds during the filming of The Machinist, which meant he had to bulk up fast. He hired a personal trainer to help him gain 100 pounds of muscle in the span of a couple months. Going from musclebound to skinny to fat would become a constant for Christain Bale in all future acting gigs.




Batman Begins opened on June 15, with rave reviews citing it as the best Batman movie ever. But when it opened, it only did okay. Its $72.9 million 5-day gross was the biggest opening for a Batman movie ever at the time. But it was still far below all the other Batman releases apart from Batman and Robin in terms of ticket sales, and in a day and age where Spider-Man made over $114 million, X2 did over $85 million, and even Hulk got above $62 million, all of which were three-day releases, it was considered a bit of a disappointment since the last couple Batman movies all broke box office records. I blame Nickelback for this. However, it did see a record IMAX opening with $3.16 million over its first 5 days, and it was still good enough that there was room to grow.


Sure enough, the movie went on to do rather well, racking up $205.3 million domestically and $371.8 million worldwide, which made it the second-biggest Batman film ever up to that point, only behind Burton’s 1989 film. DVD sales were also impressive, racking up $167 million in only a few months of release. While Batman Begins didn’t blow the house down in the same way Spider-Man or X2 did, it’s fair to say Batman Begins did its job as a relaunch of the franchise and rekindled interest in the property. And I’m sure when it comes to a sequel, there’s plenty of potential...I’ll just put a pin on that last part.


Ninth domestic, sixth worldwide was the return of Dreamworks Animation with Madagascar. This animated film follows four zoo animals who lived their whole lives pampered by the employees at the Central Park Zoo. But through a series of wacky shenanigans, the animals find themselves trapped in the jungles of Madagascar, only home to a clan of lemurs and a group of fossa predators. The four zoo animals find themselves having to adjust into living in the wild, with tension and hilarious comedy along the way.


One of the more unique elements of Madagascar is its animation style. At a time when Pixar and other studios were pushing for realism, Madagascar’s designs and direction is much more in line with Warner Bros. cartoons. The cartoonier look and emphasis on slapstick, squash and stretch, and fast-paced animation made it more reminiscent of the works of Tex Avery and Chuck Jones, which helped it stand out from the other CGI works at the time. This laid the groundwork for other animated series that emphasize cartoony designs and humor, like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Hotel Translyvania.


And like other Dreamworks Animation releases at the time, the celebrity voice cast was a major selling point. Ben Stiller, fresh off his banner 2004 played Alex the Lion, Chris Rock was the zebra Marty, David Schwimmer, fresh off the last season of Friends, played the giraffe Melman, and Jada Pinkett Smith was the hippo Gloria. The character of King Julien, the leader of the lemurs, was supposed to only have two lines in the movie. However, after comedian Sacha Baron Cohen improvised eight minutes of dialogue in an Indian accent during the audition, the filmmakers loved him so much they decided to expand King Julien’s role in the movie.




But of course, the characters most people remember and would define the series were the penguins, a quartet of birds that act like commando units and break out of the zoo in an attempt to head to Antarctica. Their dynamics, characters, and comedy result in some of the best laughs and most entertaining moments. Long before Madagascar went into production, Dreamworks was developing an animated film titled Rockumentary, which was an animated Beatles parody with a penguin rock band. Despite the project being scrapped, director Eric Darnell brought the penguins over to Madagascar with a different theme.


Released on May 27, Memorial Day weekend, Madagascar saw an impressive second place debut with $61 million over its first four days, and a three-day of $47.2 million, putting it just below Shark Tale. The film would then hit first place in weekend two, earning $28.1 million, and with little in the way of animated competition, Madagascar would go on to generate $193.6 million domestically and $542 million worldwide, making it Dreamworks’ biggest non-Shrek movie ever at that time.


And that initial success would lead to one of the biggest animated film franchises ever. Sure enough, Madagascar would see two sequels, both of which we’ll definitely talk about in the future, a spin-off film of the penguins, two television series, with a third one set to debut on Hulu and Peacock this year, several short films and television specials, theme park rides, live shows, and more.


Tenth domestic, seventh worldwide featured the Jolie-Pitt dream team in Mr. & Mrs. Smith. This stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as a bored married couple going through counseling. What they both don’t know about each other is that they are secret assassins belonging to competing agencies, and as luck would have it, they have been assigned to kill each other. Hi-jinx ensue!


The idea came about from the personal experience of writer Simon Kinberg. Kinberg’s friends were going through marriage therapy and upon learning the descriptions his friends made felt there was potential in there for an action film...okay. And sure enough, this would lead to plenty of talent on board with the project. Doug Liman would direct, while Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, two of the biggest movie stars ever, both at the time and still today, would sign on. Vince Vaughn, Adam Brody, Kerry Washington, and Michelle Monaghan (love you @Plain Old Tele) would fill out the supporting cast.


Released on June 10, Mr. & Mrs. Smith was a perfect example of the good ol’ days when all you needed was a clever hook and some major starpower. It debuted to $50.3 million, becoming the biggest opening in both Pitt and Jolie’s careers. And with the film standing out in the marketplace between all the franchise offerings, Mr. & Mrs. Smith legged itself out to $186.3 million domestically and $487.3 million worldwide. This would be the biggest films ever for both Pitt and Jolie, until World War Z and Maleficent respectively.




But despite that success, not everybody was fans, especially the Colombian government. The film’s depiction of the country and the city of Bogota was criticized by the government, especially for showcasing Bogota as a tiny village in the middle of the jungle. Mayor Luis Eduardo Garzon and President Alvaro Uribe Velez invited Pitt, Jolie and the producers to Bogota to make them realize their mistake and learn the city is in fact a bustling metropolis.


But of course, the movie’s biggest claim to fame is how it kick started Brangelina. Rumors circulated that Pitt was romantically involved with Jolie despite being married to Jennifer Aniston, with gossip sites arguing their time on set led to Pitt and Aniston’s messy divorce, though Jolie denies such a thing.


Yet sure enough, the two actors would become an item together, becoming media darlings and growing their family together, both through adoption and through pregnancy. They would become the Hollywood supercouple for about a decade, before filing for divorce in 2016, which is something I’m still not over by the way.

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The Willenium continued in eleventh place (tenth worldwide) with the romantic comedy Hitch. Big Willie stars as Alex Hitchens, a dating consultant, making a living by teaching men how to woo and impress women. While working with his latest client, played by Kevin James, he becomes smitten with a gossip columnist played by Eva Mendes. It’s there he soon realizes his usual methods and tricks don’t work on her, and perhaps might need to learn some new tricks.


One of the more interesting (and very racist) aspects of the film was its casting. Will Smith was designed as the star from the get-go, but Eva Mendes’ casting was crucial, apparently to the producers. The concern from the producers was that if Will Smith was paired up with a white actress, there was fear of a potential interracial taboo. If it was a Black actress, there was fear white audiences would feel alienated and not want to see it. So might as well get a Latina actress I guess. In actuality, I sincerely doubt anybody with a brain would care about who Will Smith hooked up with, but I’m not a rich Hollywood executive, so what do I know?




Anyways, this was Will Smith’s first major branching out from his usual role. People know that Will Smith can be funny, what with his first major work being on a sitcom, and he typically played the comic relief in his roles. But his biggest hits were action and sci-fi movies. A lighthearted romcom might not be his fanbase’s cup of tea. But sure enough, Smith’s audience ate this up.


On February 11, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Hitch opened to $43.1 million, becoming the biggest opening ever for a romantic comedy, and the third biggest February opening at that time. Sure enough, people will watch Will Smith in just about everything. The film would go on to gross $177.8 million domestic and $371.6 million worldwide.


Hitch would go on to become Will Smith’s fifth $100 million hit in a row, starting with 2002’s Men in Black II. This kind of consistency is unheard of, both in 2005 and especially today. Sure, back then starpower was able to make actors like Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Adam Sandler, and more get $100 million just by their face. But the fact that Will Smith was able to do this consistently, from genre to genre, with not one miss in a three-year period has never been done. All these actors had their duds. And sure, DiCaprio and The Rock can sell a movie on their names, but those guys have a very specific niche and audiences like to see them in a very specific movie type. Will Smith was able to do action, comedy, animation, etc., and people will line up to watch him. And as we look at future films, it’s just further proof at how Will Smith’s aura was able to make a movie an automatic hit in a way that’s unheard of in our IP-driven society.


19th place was The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Steve Carell stars as Andy, a clerk working at the local electronic store, and never had sex before. After his friends, played by Paul Rudd, Romany Malco, Seth Rogen, and Gerry Bednob, learn Andy never had sex, they decide to help in his exploits and lose his virginity.


The idea came from Carell on a sketch he created with the improv comedy troupe Second City. Carell’s sketch saw several variations, but all focused on a 40-year-old man with a “big secret”. Judd Apatow was director, and immediately decided the casting early in development, allowing him to tailor the characters and script to the strength of its actors. And what a cast this movie had. Not only the aforementioned actors, but Catherine Keener was the leading lady, and the supporting cast featured familiar and burgeoning talent, like Elizabeth Banks, Leslie Mann, Jane Lynch, Kat Dennings, Jonah Hill, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, David Koechner, Jenna Fischer, and more. Even Stormy Daniels, yes that Stormy Daniels, had a cameo.



One of the funniest scenes from 40-Year-Old Virgin was when Steve Carell gets his chest waxed. This was done for real, as Carell actually waxed his hair off for maximum comedy. Five cameras were used to capture the moment. But unlike Steve Carell’s skin, production wasn’t always smooth. The first week saw production halted, both because the film wasn’t very funny at first, but also because Universal felt Carell’s appearance made Andy look like a serial killer. Paul Rudd also saw criticism for being overweight, while Apatow saw criticism for “lighting [the film] like an indie.”


Regardless, when the film opened on August 19, it became a critical hit. Critics loved its comedy, premise, and blend of raunch and heart. This resulted in a solid $21.4 million. With great word of mouth, 40-Year-Old Virgin dropped only 24% on its second weekend, for a $16.3 million weekend haul. Labor Day weekend would see $16.5 million over the four-day, and with continued success into September, this resulted in $109.5 million domestically and $177.4 million.


This was a milestone release for both Steve Carell and Judd Apatow. While Carell was starting to find a fanbase with films like Bruce Almighty and Anchorman, this was his first leading role, and this success immediately made him a comedy superstar. A month after Virgin’s release, Carell’s The Office second season was set to debut. Surprising to say, but The Office’s first season was considered a rough one. Reviews were positive, but ratings were poor. But Virgin’s success turned people’s heads and made them want to check out Carell’s sitcom. Sure enough, The Office’s season 2 would see a 40% jump in total viewers and 60% in the coveted 18-49 demographic. It would of course go on to have nine seasons, 201 episodes, several Emmys, and be considered one of the most iconic NBC shows in history, one of the most loved comedies ever, and the one show everybody has seen the entirety of on Netflix at least twice.


Judd Apatow also saw breakout success. Initially a writer on The Larry Sanders Show, Apatow first saw film success as a producer of 2004’s Anchorman. That success would lead to Virgin, and that film’s popularity made Apatow into one of the biggest directors in comedy, with films like Knocked Up, Trainwreck, and most recently The King of Staten Island. Comedy hits he would go on to produce include Talladega Nights, Superbad, Pineapple Express, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Bridesmaids, The Big Sick, and more.


22nd place was the Ang Lee western Brokeback Mountain, based on the 1997 short story. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal star as Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, two cowboys from Wyoming who work together as sheep herders in 1963. The film then follows their 20 year relationship, which turns into an intense romantic and sexual relationship.


This is one of those films that hopped from director to director. Gus van Sant was set to adapt Annie Proulx’s short story with Matt Damon and Joaquin Phoenix as stars. But Damon felt he already did a gay movie with Mr. Ripley and a cowboy movie with All the Pretty Horses, so he didn’t want to do a “gay cowboy movie,” so Van Sant’s idea was scrapped. Joel Schumacher was also linked, but he also dropped out.


Ang Lee heard about the film, and decided he wanted to get the film made as an independent producer. He couldn’t get the plans through, but he did get into contact with friend and Focus Features CEO James Schamus to make the film. Ang Lee mentioned in an interview with Out magazine that Brokeback rejuvenated his interest in directing after both Crouching Tiger and Hulk wore him out. Ledger and Gyllenhaal were cast in 2003. There was concern over whether Ledger and Gyllenhaal were concerned for their careers over playing such controversial characters (we’ll get to that). Gyllenhaal stated he was proud of the role and the film itself, and Ledger had no fear about the role, but whether he had the maturity and grace to do it proper.




Released on December 9 in 5 theaters, Brokeback Mountain was riding an immense wave of hype, with several Golden Globe nominations and winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It opened to $547.4 thousand, with an average of $109.5 thousand per theater. This made it one of the biggest per-theater averages of all time. And thanks to its awards love (we’ll get to that), it would go on to earn an impressive $83 million domestic and $178.1 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film ever for Focus Features.


This would result in one impressive legacy, both as a part of queer cinema, and for becoming one of the most controversial films of 2005. Earning the de facto label of “The Gay Cowboy Movie”, this led to immense backlash from several conservative thinkers and figures. Political pundits/horrible people like Bill O’Reilly, John Gibson, and Cal Thomas, as well as trash-on-a-stick groups like Focus on the Family and Concerned Women of America accused the film of promoting a gay agenda and that this film, as well as Capote and Transamerica, were instances of “the media elites proving that their pet projects are more important than profit”...okay. Utah Jazz owner Larry H. Miller also banned the film from his entertainment complex despite contracting the release and advertising the film for his complex. Learning the film features, gasp, gay sex, it was apparently dangerous and broke down traditional families...okay. There were even concerns the film was hiding its homosexual content in the advertising.


Another major discussion point was whether Ennis and Jack were even gay in the first place. Because both characters have female love interests and wives, there was debate over whether Ennis and Jack were gay, bi, straight, or whether they should be classified under any sexual orientation. Critics, historians, and writers have argued their orientation for years. Gyllenhall thought Ennis and Jack were straight who developed a love between each other, while Ledger didn’t think his character could be labeled gay. LGBT non-fiction author Eric Marcus believed “talk of Ennis and Jack being anything but gay as box office-influenced political correctness intended to steer straight audiences to the film”, which does fit with how the marketing ignored the homosexual content of the film.


Author Annie Proulx was a fan of the movie, but she also expressed frustration with the movie and how it affected her popularity. After the film’s release, she would be bombarded with fan fiction that “fixed” her story, often rewriting the conclusion into a happy ending. This frustration led to her regretting she even wrote her story in the first place.




But nothing could prepare for the biggest controversy of all. Brokeback Mountain was the most honored film in history, earning more Best Picture and Director wins than Silence of the Lambs and Schindler’s List combined. No film that won the Writer’s Guild, Director’s Guild, and Producer’s Guild had ever failed to win Best Picture at the Oscars. However, Brokeback Mountain lost that trophy in favor of Crash, a film that didn’t even get nominated for Best Picture at the Golden Globes. This led to immense backlash, with many arguing homophobic Academy members blocked the film from its deserved Best Picture win. Since then, Crash has gone on to be considered one of the worst Best Picture winners, and one of the biggest mistakes the Academy has ever made, which says a lot.


But on a more positive note, Brokeback Mountain’s success allowed queer cinema to soar. It wasn’t the first mainstream LGBT release, but its critical and commercial success gave rise to the idea that gay-themed movies can find success and be accepted by the mainstream. This would result in films like Milk, I Love You, Phillip Morris, Moonlight, Call Me By Your Name, Love, Simon, The Favourite, and more.


Finally, we find ourselves in the Arctic in 27th place with the documentary March of the Penguins. This follows the yearly journey of the emperor penguins. Every autumn, the penguins of breeding age leave the ocean and walk to their ancestral grounds. There, the penguins take part in a courtship that results in the hatching of a chick, and both parents taking part in several journeys between the ocean and breeding grounds over the next few months.


Directed by Luc Jacquet, and produced by the National Geographic Society, March was filmed in Antarctica at the French scientific base Dumont d’Urville for 13 months. Being in a subzero climate, the biggest issue the filmmakers dealt with was the temperature. In order for the cameras to operate under such freezing weather, they had to use film and load the film for the entire day, because it was impossible to reload it while outside. This also meant the crew had to put on six layers of clothing to survive the frigid cold, and oftentimes could only stay out for three hours out of the day.


The original French release was distributed by Buena Vista International France, a division of Disney. And while Disney tried to bid for the US distribution rights, it would actually be distributed in America by National Geographic Films in collaboration with Warner Independent Pictures. But that’s not the only difference between French and the US. The French version had a first-person narrative, as if the penguins were telling the story. This resulted in the narration alternating between a woman, a man, and a child, all to fit the roles and storyline. However, the United States version opted for a third-person narration provided by Morgan Freeman.




On its initial release, it didn’t crack anybody’s radar. It opened in 4 theaters to a solid $137.5 thousand opening weekend on June 24. But it seems those viewers really liked what they saw. It expanded to 20 theaters the following weekend, and saw a near 200% jump with $412 thousand. The following weekend saw it in 64 theaters and crack $1 million, increasing 147% from the previous weekend. And its growth kept on coming. It got to 695 theaters on its 5th weekend, earning $4 million and cracking into the top 10. On August 5, its 7th week of release, it hit #6 and earned $7.1 million. With slim holds through August and September, staying above $1 million throughout the months, March of the Penguins finished its haul with a very impressive $77.4 million domestic haul and $127.4 million worldwide. This made it the second-biggest documentary of all time, only behind Fahrenheit 9/11, and the biggest nature documentary of all time, both of which are still records March holds today.


For whatever reason, people really loved seeing these penguins on the big screen, and alongside Madagascar, signaled a weird trend of penguin-themed movies. Animated movies Happy Feet and Surf’s Up would arrive in the next two years. In 2017, March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step was released by Disneynature in France, and was a Hulu exclusive in the US in 2018. Morgan Freeman reprises as the narrator.


And so were the stories of 2005. But that was only just a sample of the many stories. The Longest Yard was another hit in Sandler’s repertoire. Fantastic Four was Fox’s attempt to adapt another Marvel property to less success. Chicken Little was Disney attempting to do CG features without Pixar to mixed success. Robots was Blue Sky’s big follow-up to Ice Age. Walk the Line was the biggest music biopic ever and gave Reese Witherspoon an Oscar. The Pacifier kickstarted the trend of “what if action star was babysitter?” Saw II allowed us to have one of the biggest horror franchises in history. Are We There Yet? was a dark time where Ice Cube forced himself into a kids movie. Cheaper by the Dozen 2, The Legend of Zorro, xXx: State of the Union and The Ring Two all failed to keep their franchises going. Constantine was another DC Comics adaptation with less success. Sin City became a cult classic.


Sahara was directed by Michael Eisner’s son and became one of the biggest bombs in film history. Herbie Fully Loaded was the weakest Lindsay Lohan Disney remake. Amityville Horror was another Plat Dunes remake that put the studio on the map. Sky High was the first major film work for the creators of Disney Channel’s Kim Possible. Bewitched tried to adapt the 60s sitcom to disastrous results. Wallace & Gromit hit the big screen with Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Corpse Bride had Tim Burton returning to stop-motion. Be Cool was the far less successful sequel to Get Shorty. Memoirs of a Geisha had major casting controversy. Diary of a Mad Black Woman kickstarted Tyler Perry’s career. Sharkboy and Lavagirl was Robert Rodriguez’s ill-fated follow-up to Spy Kids. The Island was Michael Bay’s biggest flop ever.


Doom was a disastrous video game adaptation. Aeon Flux was a disastrous animation adaptation. Elektra was a Daredevil spin-off nobody saw. Rent and The Producers failed to capitalize on their Broadway successes. Valiant was an ill-fated attempt of Disney finding a new non-Pixar animation studio. Serenity only appealed to Firefly fans. Son of the Mask was one of the worst sequels ever created. And lastly, Bad News Bears...came out I guess.


This was 2005.

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28 minutes ago, YourMother the Edgelord said:

Wait @Eric Skywalker. No Chicken Little write up? The film is trash yes and box office mediorce but there was a lot of drama for the release especially with the Disney vs Pixar stuff going on.

I really only like to do three non-top 10 movies, because I have enough to look at as is. And honestly I felt Virgin, Brokeback, and March were more compelling stories and were movies that deserved more attention.


Of course, you are more than willing to request movies for me to talk about in the upcoming years

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People also forget in 2005 we had a lot of successful comedies!

The 40 Year Old Virgin was very big! Considering Steve carell was not even a big name! Also it came out in the doldrums of July! It even outgrossed the Dukes Of Hazard reboot which sold on as a The dude from Jackass & Jessica Simpsonlatest?cb=20160910142050&path-prefix=pro


hell Wedding Crashers outgrossed the combined total of Dukes and Virgin! But it had great timing! And a funny premise! Vince Vaughn was a big seller at that time! Summer 2004 he had Dodgeball for example. 

also Adam Sandler was still a big name, The Longest Yard remake almost came close to the domestic total of The Waterboy & Big Daddy! 

the horror genre was also big in 2005! White Noise was the beginning of a new trend that we started to see at the first weekend of every year! It grossed over $50 million and then a few weeks later Hide & Seek was as equally successful then Boogeyman a week or so later broke the Super Bowl weekend record and was another hit for Sony and Ghost House!  

The other horror winners in 2005 were: Saw II as it increased big from it’s predecessor! Then The Devil’s Rejects(yet another franchise increase) Following those two was The Exorcism Of Emily Rose as it grossed around $75 million or so! While The Ring Two dropped $50 million+ from it’s predecessor’s final domestic Total it’s opening weekend was quite strong! 
 2005 had probably at that time probably had one of the strongest years in the horror genre and the comedy genre as well! As with the horror genre, 4 films crossed the $50 million domestic total threshold!

Comedies you had three films that summer cross it, while in the beginning of the year you had a Romantic Comedy(Hitch) do quite well! 


really the only main loser was:


Michael Bay’s first big bomb with The Island scarlett-johansson-topless-meme.jpg

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KING KONG's opening day - below $10 million -  remains among the most baffling that I have followed closely. The marketing was excellent and overwhelming - that thing was just everywhere. Endless TV spots, tons of tie-ins, tons of media attention, the production diaries on "KongIsKing" fansite. Truly shocking that all the buzz and money translated to such a small amount of money early on. 


Yes, the movie was totally overlong and the beginning is shockingly slow, but nobody knew that on opening day. $9.7 million, after all of the marketing and media hype, was a sign that the concepts appeal was just dramatically overestimated. 


That may have been a movie where some star power would made a difference- the late 1990s version would have starred George Clooney and Robert De Niro. When this was announced, there were whispers they would return. Other names thrown around for Driscoll were Nicolas Cage and Hugh Jackman while Denham had Mel Gibson. Adrian Brody and Jack Black, while famous, weren't exactly bringing in the crowds. 



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Two lunar eclipses and two solar eclipses arrived, NASA launches the first space mission to Pluto, and the United States hits 300 million in its population. Saddam Hussein is found guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced to death, while North Korea becomes the ninth Nuclear Power. California suffered its biggest heat wave, and Barry Bonds beats Babe Ruth’s record, making over 715 home runs.


For Hollywood, it saw a major split when CBSViacom broke off into CBS Corporation and Viacom Media Networks. Don’t worry, they’ll get back together in about...13 years. A major merger also happened when The WB and UPN worked together to create The CW. And when it comes to the one that's most important to us box office nerds, Dreamworks Pictures, after a few years of just getting by and nearly toppling into bankruptcy twice, was bought out by Paramount Pictures in February 2006. A couple years later, Dreamworks Pictures would move away from Paramount, apart from an ongoing deal with Dreamworks Animation, that would see it turn into a simple production company, with a deal made with Disney in 2009, only to later be folded into Amblin Partners in 2015, and has since earned a minority stake from Universal, mainly releasing films under that company.


In television, a major merger happened when the broadcast channels The WB and UPN worked together to merge into The CW. The big series finales this year were Will & Grace and That 70’s Show, both of which ended on the exact same night. Other finales include The West Wing, The Bernie Mac Show, Malcolm in the Middle, Alias, and Yu-Gi-Oh! There weren’t any huge premieres in terms of general series, but we did see the debuts of shows like Psych, Heroes, Dexter, 30 Rock, and America’s Got Talent


Kids TV was another story. Disney Channel would see the debut of the sitcom Hannah Montana this year. While garnering mixed reviews, it would go on to be one of the biggest shows in the network’s history, with record-high ratings, endless amounts of merchandise, concerts that sold out in minutes, and two theatrical movies. All the while, turning Miley Cyrus into a global superstar overnight. Disney Channel also saw success in original movies with High School Musical. This was another merchandising behemoth for the company, resulting in two sequels, the last one of which actually heading to theaters, and kickstarting the career of heartthrob Zac Efron.


Music saw the grand debut of Ne-Yo in 2006, while Eminem remarried his ex-wife Kim, only to divorce her three months later. Shakira’s "Hips Don’t Lie" also broke records in terms of downloads and airplay and Justin Timberlake saw the second biggest album of the year, only behind High School Musical. The biggest headlines in gaming that year were the debuts of the Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii, the latter of which introduced motion controls to the mainstream and sold over 101 million units, making it Nintendo’s biggest home console. Some of the bigger losses were Coretta Scott King, Betty Friedan, Don Knotts, Billy Preston, Steve Irwin, Robert Altman, James Brown and Gerald Ford. However, 2006 was also the year we saw the births of McKenna Grace and Jacob Tremblay, the two biggest child actors working today.


For the box office, it was a solid bump from last year. However, out of all the stories, there was one clear headline above the rest. The one film that blew the industry away and got people talking. That film was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. This follow-up saw Jack Sparrow on the hunt for the heart of Davy Jones, a part-octopus, part-crab, part-man creature, who hid away his heart in Dead Man’s Chest. Because of a debt he paid to Davy Jones, Jack Sparrow must find the heart, or else his soul will become enslaved to Davy Jones and he will be forced to be a part of his crew on the Flying Dutchman. All the while, other characters are on a quest for the heart for their own agendas.


As I said in the 2003 write-up, Curse of the Black Pearl was a massive risk, as Michael Eisner had little fate, and its $140 million price tag was not pretty. However, after making over $654.3 million, Disney executives had dollar signs in their eyes. So to capitalize on this film’s success, as well as allow the studio to have more time with the same cast and crew, two sequels were shot back-to-back, much like what Lord of the Rings and Matrix did.


When Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio were developing the screenplay, they did not want Pirates to follow in the footsteps of Bond or Indiana Jones with stand-alone adventures, so they retroactively turned Curse of the Black Pearl into the first of a trilogy. This is why the film opens up with the wedding of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann and why they tag along for the adventure. When it came to the story, Elliott and Rossio initially wanted to use the Fountain of Youth as a plot device, but moved in favor of Davy Jones, the Flying Dutchman and the Kraken. The Fountain of Youth would later be used for 2011’s On Stranger Tides.


Pre-production began in June 2004, with plans for a much grander production, with more shooting locations and fully working pirate ships. However, things started to hit a snag. On November 2004, just a couple months before production went underway, Elliott and Rossio’s script was unfinished, out of fear Gore Verbinski and Jerry Bruckheimer would compromise what they wrote. This meant Verbinski hired James Byrkit to storyboard major sequences, with the duo using preparatory scripts for these moments. The costs were getting higher and higher, and the lack of a script made Disney anxious on the project. But after learning from the mistakes of Curse of the Black Pearl, production finally went underway on February 2005.




During production, the writers accompanied the cast and crew to each location, often giving rewrites the day of, believing it would improve the spontaneity of the cast. Filming locations included St. Vincent, where the first movie was shot and many of the sets were re-used, but also the island of Dominica for scenes that feature the cannibal island of Pelegosto and the forest segment of the battle in Isla Cruces. Filming in Dominica became a nightmare for the Dominican government. The government were not prepared for the massive 500-strong crew, which meant 90% of their roads were taken over by the Pirates crew. The weather also saw an alternation of torrential rainstorms and hot temperatures, which was awful for the cast forced to wear hot period clothing.


For props like the giant water wheel and the bone cages, these were practical effects, with Verbinski believing long close-up shots would suspend the audience’s disbelief. But that didn’t mean CGI wasn’t used. All of Davy Jones’ crew was computer-generated. Initially meant to be ghosts, Verbinski felt it was better for them to be flesh-and-blood creatures. A clever design choice was that the crew members had a certain hierarchy depending on how long they had been there. Newcomers had low-level injections and changes to their anatomy, while long-term members had entire undersea creature attributes. With of course Davy Jones being the most animalistic.


Speaking of, Davy Jones originally had been designed with chin growths, but it was decided to have his face feature full-blown tentacles instead. Actor Bill Nighy wore a motion capture tracksuit and make-up around his eyes and mouth on the set, allowing the VFX team at Industrial Light & Magic to not deal with any reshoots on a motion capture studios, and giving a good reference for the team to splice computer-generated effects around those areas. Nighy also gave Davy Jones a more eccentric performance, allowing the animators to have great fun animating the guy. As for the tentacles on his face, their movements were done through a simulation.




After a premiere in Disneyland, Dead Man’s Chest opened to the general public on July 7, with a massive marketing campaign and immense hype as the glorious return of Pirates of the Caribbean. And that excitement meant the movie exploded. On its opening day, the film generated $55.8 million, becoming the biggest opening day of all time, ahead of Revenge of the Sith. Its Saturday saw it earn $44.4 million, making it the fastest movie ever to reach $100 million. This all led to a mind-boggling $135.6 million opening weekend. This made it the biggest debut ever for a Disney release, passing The Incredibles, as well as becoming the biggest opening weekend for a film ever, beating Spider-Man’s four-year record.


Even today, this is still an incredible number. Stuff like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or Spider-Man were already evergreen properties by the time the movies came out, with huge fan bases and an iconic legacy in literature and comic books. Yes, Pirates was based on a ride, but this was still a relatively new and exciting property to the average consumer. So the fact it opened so high and mighty shows how big and exciting the series was to people back then.


And after earning $62.3 million in its second weekend, the third-biggest second weekend ever, the film’s 10-day total amounted to $258.4 million, which made it the biggest 10-day total for any movie ever, and made it the fastest movie to reach $250 million, beating Revenge of the Sith by just one day. The third weekend saw $35.2 million, making it the first film of 2006 to stay #1 for three weeks, as well as becoming the fastest movie ever to reach $300 million in 16 days. Revenge of the Sith took 17. Weekend four was $20.6 million, which meant it became the fastest movie ever to hit $350 million in 23 days, and became Disney’s biggest movie ever at that point.




Basically, it made a lot of money, and it made its money fast. Its final domestic haul amounted to $423.3 million, making it the sixth-biggest film ever at the domestic box office at the time. But of course the real headline was its worldwide gross. On its 63rd day of release, yet another speedy record was taken down when Dead Man’s Chest earned $1 billion at the box office. This meant the movie was the third film ever to hit $1 billion, and became the third-biggest film of all time worldwide.


It was a resounding success and further proof you need to take risks to make great success. If Eisner shut down Curse of the Black Pearl, Disney would have nothing to show for themselves and wouldn’t have garnered one of the biggest movie franchises ever. And even though the BTS fiascos and trepidations didn’t lead to the same critical adoration, it’s clear this had its fans and people were eager for more. And wouldn’t you know it, next year would give fans what they wanted...kind of.



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A distant, but still strong second place was Night at the Museum. This starred Ben Stiller as Larry, a divorced father who becomes the night security guard for the American Museum of Natural History. And on his first day, Larry discovers something magical. Because of an ancient Egyptian artifact in the museum, all the exhibits, from the wax figures to the miniatures to the skeletal dinosaur, come alive at night. Hi-jinx ensue!


Based on the 1993 picture book, Night at the Museum was Shawn Levy’s next big swing for a major hit after the success of Cheaper by the Dozen...if you ignore that Pink Panther remake with Steve Martin, which I think most people do. The idea certainly had potential, but things really picked up when Ben Stiller signed on. As said before, the mid 2000s was when Stiller was at his peak, and according to Levy, his casting influenced a good chunk of the ensemble cast to sign on.


And what a cast it was. Carla Gugino, Paul Rudd, Ricky Gervais, Dick van Dyke and Mickey Rooney appeared, but the real starpower came from the actors playing the exhibits. Owen Wilson, Steve Coogan, Brad Garrett, and Robin Williams appeared, and this was the film debut of Rami Malek, who would later star in Mr. Robot and Bohemian Rhapsody. When I was watching Mr. Robot when it was new, I got a pretty good laugh seeing the twisted yet depressed Elliot played by the goofy Egyptian prince from Night at the Museum.





Anyways, December 22 was its release date, a very similar release date to Levy’s Cheaper by the Dozen. And with this film, Levy went above and beyond his predecessor. Its four-day weekend totaled to about $42.2 million, including 72 IMAX venues, largely in museums...because theming. This put it well ahead of Cheaper and just a couple million below the 3-Day of Meet the Fockers, and set the movie up to do solid box office business.


And sure enough, Christmas legs took it to the stratosphere. Despite mixed reviews, its second weekend saw a 14% jump, with a four-day New Year’s of $48.2 million, with the film taking in $127.3 million over its first 11 days. The next few weeks continued to have strong holds, as more and more people checked the film out. Weekend 3 was a 35% drop from the previous 3-Day with $23.7 million. Weekend four, MLK weekend, saw a 28% drop, $17.2 million ($21.8 million 4-Day). Weekend 5 brought a 30% drop for a $12 million weekend. Basically, it held well through 2007, resulting in $250.9 million, an incredible 5.94x its four-day opening weekend. The film was also a huge hit overseas, resulting in a $574.5 million worldwide total, the fifth-biggest film worldwide for 2006.


The success of the film is kind of obvious. Like other hit films, at least before the invasion of IP and brand recognition, the one thing that got asses in seats was a clever concept and a great leading star. The idea of a museum’s exhibits coming to life is a fun concept for kids, while the all-star cast helped bring appeal towards adults. And with Ben Stiller fresh off his Fockers fame, it became a breakout success and was another notch in Stiller and Levy’s belt. This also saw a major boom in attendance for the actual American Museum of Natural History, with a 20% jump from the previous year.


In 2009, a sequel, Battle of the Smithsonian, was released with a pretty sizable 28% drop from the first film. 2014 would see another sequel, Secret of the Tomb, which was one of the last films to feature Robin Williams. It too saw diminishing returns, with a 12% drop worldwide, and a 36% drop domestically from Smithsonian. A remake is currently in development and set for release on the Disney+ streaming service.


Third domestic, sixth worldwide was the Pixar release Cars. In a world full of anthropomorphic cars, Owen Wilson voices Lightning McQueen, a hotshot, overly brash racing car who is expected to race in the finals of the Piston Cup. But before the race can happen, he finds himself stranded in the small roadside town of Radiator Springs, home to a colorful cast of characters. And during his stay, this superstar racer finds himself humbled, learning about the beauty and simplicity of everyday life.


Before talking about the movie itself, it's important to talk about what was going on between Disney and Pixar before its release. From 2004 to 2005, Disney and Pixar were going through...issues. I already explained it in the 2004 post, but long story short, contract negotiations and icy relations between both Steve Jobs and Michael Eisner made it seem like the companies were going to split. Pixar was looking for a new home, while Disney set up a new animation studio named Circle 7 that would do nothing but make direct-to-DVD sequels of the Pixar films Disney released. Cars, the final film in Pixar’s Disney deal, was set to release in November 2005, but in December 2004, the release date was changed to June 2006, making analysts believe this was a sign from Pixar they were buying time over the Eisner-Jobs dispute or allowing them time to focus on finding a new home.


Because of this split, alongside numerous other reasons, Eisner was pulled from his role as Disney CEO with Bob Iger taking the part in late 2005. One of the first roles Iger took in his new position was appearing at the opening day of Hong Kong Disneyland, and it was there he noticed the characters at the opening day parade. The only characters from the last 10 years in that parade were Pixar characters. Not one was a character created by Disney themselves. Iger realized then and there that Disney needed Pixar more than Pixar needed them, and he needed to act fast before Disney would go through worse trouble. This would result in Bob Iger acquiring Pixar wholesale for $7.4 billion on January 25, 2006. Steve Jobs would join Disney’s board of directors, while John Lasseter would become Chief Creative Officer for both Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.


This was one of Iger’s first tasks as CEO of Disney, and defined what his reign at Disney truly was. Iger knew that to build Disney further and keep it fresh and exciting and relevant to modern audiences, he had to expand. The roster of IPs, brands, and characters had to not only get bigger, but come from studios and companies that people love and care about. This would become most apparent once we go into the 2010s, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.


So yeah, Cars. First finding life in 1998, the idea for Cars was pitched by Jorgen Kluebein with a script titled "The Yellow Car", about an electric car living in a gas-guzzling car world. The idea saw further development that year, and it was decided this would be the next Pixar release after A Bug’s Life with a release date in early 1999. However, Toy Story 2’s production soon took over and the idea was scrapped.


Lasseter would later go on and take the idea, building off a cross-country road trip he took with his family in 2000. His experience on Route 66 on that trip led to him getting into contact with historian Michael Wallis. Wallis would take eleven Pixar animators across Route 66 to gather research for the project. Lasseter also took charge because he was a noted car enthusiast. “I have always loved cars. In one vein, I have Disney blood, and in the other, there's motor oil. The notion of combining these two great passions in my life—cars and animation—was irresistible.” 


One of the biggest influences for the film was the documentary Divided Highways, which looked at the construction of highways during the Eisenhower administration and how it affected America. Particularly, Lasseter and co-director Joe Ranft were interested in the sections of the documentary that focused on the small towns that got bypassed and fell off the map due to the interstate highways. This became the basis for Radiator Springs.


Speaking of Joe Ranft, this was the very last film he would work on. Also voicing the fire truck Red, Ranft was killed in a car accident one year before the movie’s release. The film was dedicated to him. This would also be one of the very last roles for George Carlin, who voiced the hippie truck Fillmore, before his passing in 2008, and the very last non-documentary film for actor Paul Newman, who plays the old and wise Doc Hudson. He retired in 2007, and passed away in 2008. In the future Cars sequels, Doc Hudson is memorialized in honor of Newman.




For the movie’s character designs, one thing Lasseter was adamant on was having the eyes appear on the windshields, instead of the highlights, the latter of which is the more common way to anthropomorphize a car. The reason for this design was to help make the character stand out from other designs, as well as make the cars feel more human and alive. The idea was that putting the eyes in the headlights would make it look more like a snake. The animation team also studied the designs and movements of all types of cars in order to help make the animation seem believable. Sports cars like McQueen had tight suspension and movements, while older ‘50s cars like Doc were looser and bouncier. All of this helped to give each character their own movement and style, making them stand out.


Releasing on June 9, Cars opened to $60.1 million. This was obviously a huge number, becoming the second-biggest June opening and the sixth-biggest opening for an animated film. However, it did end a weird streak for Pixar, where every movie they released saw a bigger opening weekend than the last. But with all that money, it’s debatable Disney was crying about this. With solid reviews and kids getting out of school for the summer, Cars would then go on to earn more than 4 times its opening with $244.1 million. Worldwide was about $461.6 million.


While not the biggest Pixar movie, it was yet another hit for Disney and showed the value of having Pixar wholly owned, setting the company up for many more huge hits in the years to come. And while the franchise didn’t have the box office popularity nor critical acclaim as the other Pixar properties, it would oddly go on to make the most money in the end. 


Cars hit DVD in November 2006, going on to sell five million copies in two days. There was also a limited VHS run, making it one of the last Disney movies to hit VHS, and one of the last major movies to get a VHS release period. But the real money came from the toys. The popularity of toy cars among kids meant merchandise for the movie was enormous, resulting in over $10 billion in sales between 2006 and 2011. This popularity would lead to Cars being one of the biggest Disney franchises in history.


Two sequels were released (Cars 2 will be discussed in the future), as well as a spin-off titled Planes released in 2013. It saw a sequel, Fire and Rescue, in 2014. There were also several short films, mainly starring the tow truck Mater, voiced by Larry the Cable Guy, released over the next few years. Cars would also see several video games and a major presence at Disney’s theme parks, with the biggest one being an entire Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. This success would also lead to several rip-offs, which is how you know you made it big.


Fourth domestic, seventh worldwide was the newest Marvel joint X-Men: The Last Stand. Combining two different comic book stories, The Last Stand sees the human government developing a cure for mutations. This cure draws a line between both the X-Men and the Brotherhood. And all the while, Jean Grey starts to find herself corrupted by the dark side, turning into a dangerous, uncontrollable persona known as Phoenix. All of this results into an all-out battle.


The success of X-Men, as well as the monster popularity of X2, prompted Fox to develop a third entry. However, this was set to be the first X-Men film without Bryan Singer’s touch. While a treatment was worked on, including Jean Grey’s resurrection as Phoenix and introducing the character of Emma Frost, set to have Sigourney Weaver in the role. However, in July 2004, Singer left the project in favor of working on Superman Returns (we’ll get to that). Writers Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty also joined Singer to work on Superman.


With new contracts for the returning cast, Hugh Jackman’s was the most beneficial as he got to approve the director. This resulted in Jackman approaching Darren Aronofsky after the two worked on The Fountain, but Aronofsky turned it down. Other directors that were considered included Joss Whedon, Rob Bowman, Alex Proyas, Peter Berg, and even Zack Snyder. Finally, Fox landed on director Matthew Vaughn. But despite Vaughn taking part in the casting process and development, family issues and Fox’s tight schedule forced Vaughn to leave production before filming started. Finally, Fox found Brett Ratner, who was set to direct the first X-Men years ago, would take the helm. Ironically, this was after Ratner’s pitch for a new Superman movie failed.


The screenplay was handled by X2 co-writer Zak Penn, as well as Fantastic Four and Elektra screenwriter Simon Kinberg. Kinberg wanted the story to adapt both The Dark Phoenix Saga as the emotional center of the movie, as well as adapt the Joss Whedon story Gifted for the political aspects of the movie. And it’s there Fox executives saw a lot of control over the project.


Fox felt the Dark Phoenix part of the film would only appeal to hardcore fans, and only wanted the cure storyline to be a part of the film, feeling it was the best source of conflict for Magneto fighting the X-Men. Fox also decided that Cyclops should be killed off in the script, as James Marsden had limited availability due to his appearance in Superman Returns.


At the same time Last Stand was in development, Fox was also working on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which meant there were limitations on which mutants could cameo or pop up in the movie, as it would risk the character development and surprises set for Origins: Wolverine. The character of Gambit was set to appear, but the writers were nervous they couldn’t do the fan-favorite justice. Nightcrawler was also set to debut, with Alan Cumming eager to return, but his role in the film was so minimal it was thought best to scrap him entirely instead of wasting Cumming in all that make-up.




Ratner played a part in the screenplay too. The Golden Gate sequence was supposed to be the middle of the film, with the climax set in Washington, D.C. Ratner believed that D.C. was a played out setting with films like the Planet of the Apes remake and X2. Ratner also asked for the big fight to take place in Alcatraz. With those changes, the screenplay was done, though shrouded in secrecy. When the $210 million production was revving up, the cast often did not get full screenplays, several characters were not revealed in the call sheets, and many scenes were shot in varied ways. All of this led to a campaign that was purposely dark and ambiguous, making audiences be more questionable about what’s going down.


X-Men: The Last Stand premiered out of competition at Cannes on May 22, as well as debuting at the US Navy ship Kearsarge two days later, with a general release on May 26, Memorial Day weekend. And once again, X-Men broke all the records. With $102.8 million for the three-day and a mind-boggling $122.9 million over the four-day, The Last Stand saw the biggest Memorial Day weekend ever, beating out The Lost World’s almost nine-year record for an opener, and beating Shrek 2’s overall weekend gross. This also served as the fourth-biggest three-day opening for a May movie, and its $45.1 million opening day was the second-biggest opening day ever, only behind Revenge of the Sith at the time.


Having said that, things weren’t particularly rosy. While X-Men was never a leggy franchise, the film failed to really keep much momentum only barely doubling from its OW with a $234.4 million domestic haul. Worldwide was $460.4 million. The biggest of the franchise for sure, and Last Stand would hold onto the franchise’s domestic record for years to come until Deadpool. But it still kind of felt like it could have done more with the substantial opening it had.


Of course, it didn’t help that reviews were not the best. Critics were mixed on the piece, feeling it lacked the intrigue and emotion that the other two films nailed, while fans hated the way characters like Cyclops were killed off. This also went down to the creatives for this and the previous X-Men films. Bryan Singer felt the plot was too busy, and there were too many character deaths, though he did like some elements. Matthew Vaughn, who worked on this project for so long before having to leave, felt Ratner’s direction was poor, and that the emotions and drama couldn’t play out, with no time to breathe. 


Even Simon Kinberg, the writer of the film, was not happy about it. Kinberg felt the Dark Phoenix storyline should have been the main plot and felt he should have pushed harder to make it so. This would result in Kinberg directing and writing Dark Phoenix in 2019, which retold the events of X-Men: The Last Stand. Let’s just say that movie could have gone better.


Going down to fifth place, we see the second-biggest film worldwide, The Da Vinci Code. Based on the best-selling novel by Dan Brown, this stars Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon, a professor of religion at Harvard University. After the murder of Lourve curator Jacques Sauniere, Langdon is the prime suspect. Framed for the crime he didn’t commit, Langdon finds himself in a mystery, where through clues in Da Vinci’s paintings, and would soon discover a mystery that if exposed could shake the very foundations of Christianity itself.


Dan Brown’s original 2003 novel, a sequel to 2000’s Angels & Demons, was a monster hit when it first came out. Fueled by its heavy controversy (more on that later), it would go on to be the second-biggest book of 2003, only behind Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, selling 80 million copies worldwide. Naturally this success would lead to a film adaptation, and Sony would earn the rights to Brown’s novel, with Ron Howard as director, and Bill Paxton as Robert Langdon. However, Paxton was set to film the HBO series Big Love, so the role would later be given to Tom Hanks.


While the film was largely shot in Pinewood Studios, the filmmakers actually managed to obtain permission to film at the Louvre. A replica of the Mona Lisa was used during production there, as the crew was not allowed to illuminate the original work with their lighting. At the same time, Westminster Abbey denied its premises for filming, which required the crew to shoot at Lincoln and Winchester cathedrals, both of which are a part of the Church of England. Filming at Lincoln also saw the crew hit by a group of protesters; the demonstration led by 61 year-old Sister Mary Michael.




Why was there such controversy and such demonstrations? It all comes down to the subject matter. Both the novel and film saw attacks against the Catholic Church for its claims the Church is behind a two-thousand-year-old cover-up over what the Holy Grail is and covering up that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were married and had a daughter. The depiction of the organizations Priory of Sion and Opus Dei also garnered criticism from the Catholic Church.


This criticism sparked interest in the book and turned it into a best-selling phenomenon, and this controversy seeped into every facet of the film production. The Vatican outright declared a boycott against the film for its calumny, while the Opus Dei released a statement to Sony Pictures to edit the film so it would not contain anything that could be hurtful to Christains. The film was outright banned in several countries due to outcries from Christain and Muslim communities, including Syria, Lebanon, several states in India, and China. Protests and demonstrations in religious countries were also common leading up to the film’s release. Tom Hanks and Ian McKellan argued the film’s story was hooey and nonsense, so it wasn’t worth getting upset over, but the complaints were still valid. Me personally, I watched this movie years later, and was so bored while watching I fell asleep, so I don’t have much input to add in this debate.


Sony unveiled The Da Vinci Code at the Cannes Film Festival on May 17 to disastrous results. According to the Associated Press, patrons gave “a few whistles and hisses [at the end, and there was none of the scattered applause even bad movies sometimes receive at Cannes.” And with reviews from critics blasting the movie for its anti-Christainity subtext, as well as being very boring, this seemed like a movie nobody would find appeal in. However, like the novel before it, people had to watch the movie to understand all of the hype.


Opening on May 19, off the back of a best-seller and massive marketing campaign, The Da Vinci Code was able to ride its controversy to an astonishing $77.1 million opening weekend, the biggest opening in both Hanks and Ron Howard’s careers. But even more impressive was its global debut. Thanks to a meaty launch in international territories ($147 million, the biggest international launch ever), the global opening racked up to a mind-bending $224 million, making it the second-biggest global opening ever for a movie, only behind Revenge of the Sith.


This immediate popularity, in spite of scathing reception and boycotts propelled the film to $217.5 million domestic and $760 million worldwide. This only further helped the phenomenon that was The Da Vinci Code soar to greater heights. And three years later, Hanks returned to the Langdon role. But we'll get to that when we get to 2009.

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In sixth place (ninth worldwide) was the very costly Superman Returns. The final installment of the original Superman series and itself a direct follow-up to the first two releases, this follows Superman returning (oh i get it) to Earth after a five-year absence from the planet. Since then, Lois Lane has moved on with her life and Lex Luthor has risen in power, plotting a scheme that will destroy Superman and North America.


Like Batman Begins, a new Superman movie had gone through decades of development hell, from project to project. And like Terminator 3 before it, the hoops this film went through are very long, very confusing, and more interesting than the final film itself. Cannon was set to release Superman V, but Cannon’s bankruptcy killed that film’s chances. After the success of The Death of Superman comic book story in the early 90s, Warner Bros. hired Jon Peters to produce a new Superman project, with Jonathan Lemkin as writer. Lemkin’s script, titled Superman Reborn, had Lois and Clark go through marriage troubles and feature Doomsday as the villain. Warner Bros. was not impressed, as the screenplay’s themes of heroism and obligations was already tackled in Batman Forever. Gregory Poirier would be asked to rewrite the script, including the character of Braniac. While Warner Bros. liked Poirier’s rewrites, Clerks director Kevin Smith was then hired to rewrite the film. Smith was not a fan of the screenplay, believing it to be disrespectful of the Superman mythos. And from that moment on, the production from Hell was born.


Kevin Smith pitched Jon Peters a new story in 1996, with Peters accepting Smith’s ideas under certain conditions. Jon Peters did not want Superman to fly, because he would look like an overgrown Boy Scout apparently, and Peters wanted Superman to fight a giant spider in the third act. It was the one thing Jon Peters really wanted. Peters also wanted Braniac to fight a polar bear, have a “space dog” character that can be used to make merchandise out of, and for Braniac’s robot assistant L-Ron to be a “gay R2-D2 with attitude”...okay.



Smith’s new script, titled Superman Lives, was written. Robert Rodriguez was offered the chance to direct, but the role of director would then go on to Tim Burton, who signed on with a $5 million pay-or-play contract. Nicolas Cage, a Superman fanboy, signed on for a $20 million contract, and a summer 1998 release date was set. Kevin Spacey was considered for Lex Luthor, while Christopher Walken was considered for Braniac. Sandra Bullock, Courteney Cox and Julianne Moore were approached for Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen would be played by Chris Rock.


But after Burton signed on, he decided he wanted to tell his version of Superman, resulting in Smith’s script being rewritten by Wesley Strick. Smith was disappointed, especially because Burton’s immense power in Hollywood pretty much made any decisions Smith made meaningless and erased.


And setbacks after setbacks continued. The art directors were forced to design a Superman movie that looked nothing like a Superman movie, Wesley Strick’s script was thrown out because of how expensive the film would have been, Dan Gilroy was forced to write a new script, Burton had several disagreements with Jon Peters, and the film was finally put on hold in April 1998. Burton would then direct Sleepy Hollow.


Dan Gilroy’s script would be handed to several directors like Michael Bay and Martin Campbell and Brett Ratner, but all of them were uninterested. William Wisher, Jr. would develop a new script in June 1999, but shortly after, Nicolas Cage dropped out and Superman Lives was completely scrapped.


In July 2002, a new Superman project arrived, this time by J. J. Abrams. His script, Superman: Flyby, was an origin story depicting a Kryptonian civil war. Brett Ratner signed on to direct, while Christopher Reeve was a project consultant. Several actors were approached for the role of Superman, including Josh Hartnett, Jude Law, Paul Walker, Brendan Fraser, David Boreanaz, James Marsden, Matt Bomer, and even Ashton Kutcher of all people. But for a myriad of reasons, whether they be scheduling conflicts, typecasting, or being required to appear in multiple sequels, all of these men rejected the role. With a $200 million production budget set for the film, Ratner ended up leaving the project in March 2003, as the casting delays soured his interest in the project.


McG would then take the reins, still working off of Abrams’ script, albeit with rewrites from Josh Schwartz. Despite going so far as test screening actors, including Jared Padalecki, Jason Behr, Micheal Cassidy, and Henry Cavill, McG also left the project in June 2004 due to budgetary concerns and filming locations. Warner Bros. wanted to shoot the film in Australia, but because McG has a fear of flying, he pushed to film in New York. Not making a word of that up.




So Superman: Flyby never got off the ground. Don’t worry, Abrams will be okay. But soon a new Superman project would replace it, this time by X-Men director and horrible person Bryan Singer. A huge fan of Richard Donner’s original 1978 classic, Singer pitched the idea of a storyline involving Superman returning to Earth after a five-year absence to X-Men producer Laura Shuler Donner, the wife of Richard Donner. So when WB lost McG and really wanted a new Superman project, Singer’s idea was approved, and was signed on to direct and develop the idea called Superman Returns. Michael Doughtery and Dan Harris would write.


The casting was a very crucial element for this release, and one of the first things Singer was adamant on was Superman being played by an unknown. After thousands of potential candidates, the role was given to a man named Brandon Routh, who actually auditioned to play Clark Kent in the hit TV series Smallville. Kate Bosworth was cast amongst a heavy pool of contenders for Lois Lane, including Keri Russell, Claire Danes, and even Amy Adams. Bosworth got the role because of horrible person Kevin Spacey, who worked with her, who worked with Bosworth on the film Beyond the Sea. Spacey would play the role of Lex Luthor, and for his performance, Singer asked Spacey to tone down the campiness found in Gene Hackman’s portrayal of the character, though it still permeated.


One of the more interesting casting decisions was that Singer was able to put Marlon Brando back in the role of Jor-El despite passing away in 2004. After intense negotiations with Brando’s estate, Singer earned access to all of the footage Brando filmed back in 1978. Through archival footage and CGI enhancements, Brando got to appear in one last film, albeit posthumously.


With the costs needed to convincingly show off Superman’s powers, the film was budgeted initially at $184.5 million, before rising to $204 million. And because of all the money spent during the development hell of the 90s and early 2000s, this all surmounted to a gargantuan $263 million production budget. This doesn’t even include the $100 million marketing budget. So this Superman film needed to deliver big bucks. And with a year-long marketing campaign, several tie-in deals, Warner Bros. tried to do everything to make this movie’s success a reality.




Superman Returns was released on June 28, and through the Fourth of July, its first week gross amounted to about $108.1 million. The five-day amounted to $84.6 million, while the three day was a mere $52.5 million. This would include a record IMAX debut with $6.7 million from 76 locations, which featured 20 minutes of converted 3D film material, the first Hollywood full-length live-action film ever to feature digital 3-D content.


On paper, this opening seems fine, and it was above the numbers Batman Begins generated last year. But because Superman Returns was one of the most expensive films ever made, and opened below the likes of War of the Worlds and Men in Black II, it was seen as a major disappointment. What was made even worse was its future weekends.


Because of the film’s lukewarm reviews, and releasing one week before Dead Man’s Chest became one of the biggest films in history, the film crashed in its second weekend, only generating $21.8 million, almost a 60% drop from its three-day. And so Superman Returns barely crawled to $200 million domestically and only generated $391.1 million worldwide.


Even after the fact, everybody was disappointed at these numbers. WB president Alan Horn said that while the film was successful, it should have generated $500 million. Bryan Singer felt he could have made the movie more exciting and was disappointed in the marketing and promotion of the film. With Returns getting lukewarm reception, mediocre box office, and the WGA strike, the proposed Superman Returns sequel that was set for 2009 would go on to be completely scrapped. A reboot was released in 2013, but we’ll get to that later.


Since then the film has kind of faded in the public eye, but it hasn’t gone away forever. Brandon Routh would go on to star in the hit CW/DC series Legends of Tomorrow as the character of The Atom. And in 2020, during the epic Arrowverse crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths, Routh would reprise his role as Clark Kent one more time for television. So I guess it wasn’t all bad in the end.


Penguin love continued in seventh domestic, tenth worldwide with Happy Feet. This animated film focuses on a colony of Emperor penguins, who every year get together and find their soulmates through song, in an act that has gone on through centuries. But one penguin named Mumble, voiced by Elijah Wood, can’t sing, because he got dropped on the head. Instead, he has the incredible ability to tap dance...just go with it. Despite becoming an outcast to the colony, his tap dancing will go on to give Mumble an incredible adventure that will save his colony from extinction. This adventure includes alien abduction, a band of Mexican penguins, one of which voiced by Robin Williams for some reason, and a message about pollution and conservation...this movie’s weird, okay?


Directed by Mad Max’s George Miller, the idea for Happy Feet came during the production of Mad Max 2. When Miller was talking with a grizzled old cameraman, the cameraman could not stop raving about how incredible a location Antarctica was and how Miller had to make a film there. And while he would not film in Antarctica, this idea would soon morph into a film all about talking penguins. In 2001, producer and friend Doug Mitchell gave WB studio president Alan Horn an early rough draft of the screenplay immediately before he and Miller would fly back to Australia. Upon landing, Horn immediately greenlit the project and provided funding.




The animation was done by VFX company Animal Logic, becoming the first animated movie by the studio. Taking over four years to produce, one of the more notable aspects of the film’s animation was its usage of motion-capture technology. For the film’s tap dancing sequences, professional dancers were put into those not-so-fancy suits. The dancers had to go to “Penguin School” so they could learn how to move like a penguin, making the dances more believable. Miller didn’t intend to have an environmental message in the film, but becoming more and more aware of the ozone hole, and with global warming and climate change drastically affecting Antarctica (including today, because humanity wants to kill our planet for some reason), Miller felt it was a necessity to discuss how man is destroying the habitats of penguins.


As a film about singing and dancing penguins, Happy Feet was a jukebox musical featuring a discography of artists like Queen, Stevie Wonder, Elvis, and Prince. Speaking of, Prince saw an early cut of the film in order for Miller to gain his approval and use some of his music in the movie. Prince loved the movie so much that not only did he approve the use of his music, but he offered to write an original song, titled "Song of the Heart." He would complete the song one week after he saw the film, and his work would go on to earn a Golden Globe.


Released on November 17, Happy Feet opened to number one with $41.5 million, a very solid debut that narrowly beat the highly-anticipated Casino Royale. This would hopefully lead to greater things with the Thanksgiving frame the very next week. And wouldn’t you know it, it did result in greater things. With kids fresh out of school, Happy Feet dropped a minuscule 11%, earning about $37 million for the three-day, and earning $99.3 million in its first 10 days. It would stay #1 for a third weekend, dropping 53% and earning $17.5 million, for a $121.5 million total. This made Happy Feet one of only two films that year to stay #1 for three weeks. Dead Man’s Chest was the other film.


All told, Happy Feet would generate $198 million domestically and $384.3 million worldwide, an impressive result for a $100 million budget release. It would go on to see solid reviews and earn the Best Animated Feature Oscar at the 2007 Academy Awards. Truly, penguin mania could not be stopped. In 2011, George Miller directed Happy Feet Two, and despite the first film’s success, the film would end up earning less than half of its predecessor with $64 million domestically and $150.4 million worldwide, resulting in a $40 million loss and the closure of George Miller’s digital production studio Dr. D. Studios.


Eighth domestic but third worldwide was the return of Scrat with Ice Age: The Meltdown. An impending flood is set to hit the valley the Ice Age gang live in, meaning Manny, Diego, and Sid have to travel to find a giant boat that will keep them all safe. And during this journey, Manny discovers that he is not the last woolly mammoth alive and finds love with a mammoth named Ellie, despite her believing she is a possum.


When Ice Age broke box office records and became the biggest March release ever, Blue Sky naturally began work on a sequel, with production beginning in June 2002. Producer Lori Forte would also sign on for a multi-year deal with 20th Century Fox, developing and producing future animated films. This would include The Meltdown, as well as future Blue Sky releases like 2013’s Epic and 2017’s Ferdinand.


Chris Wedge did not return to direct, with Carlos Saldanah taking the helm. During production, all the characters were remodeled for this iteration, and one thing Saldanah was adamant on were the eyes of the characters. He wanted to ensure the eyes felt alive, as it would allow for stronger facial expressions and allowing people to know what the characters were thinking easier.


Being a Fox production, one of the more unique aspects of the film’s marketing was its usage of the FOX network and its shows to promote this anticipated sequel’s release. One episode of the hit series Family Guy featured Scrat the squirrel in a cutaway gag, just one week before the film was set to open. And on that same night, Sid the sloth hosted the entire FOX Sunday line-up, appearing during commercial breaks. This would result in the children’s character Sid actually saying the word “sex”, which is the greatest thing in the history of television.



Opening on March 31, Ice Age: The Meltdown’s opening weekend was legendary. With $68 million in the tank, it made more money than the rest of the top 15 combined, opening on par with Pixar hits like Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. This was in spite of mixed reviews from critics, and surged past projections of an opening in the $50 million range. This would also serve as Fox’s sixth-biggest opening weekend and the biggest March opening weekend of all time. The Meltdown would then go on to earn $195.3 million domestically.


But the real success came from the overseas markets. More than doubling from the last movie, this sequel earned $465.7 million overseas haul, repping 70% of the worldwide total of $661 million. This overseas success would define the series going forward.


James Bond was back and better than ever in ninth place with the release of Casino Royale. A reboot of the series, this follows James Bond in his very first mission, trying to earn his license to kill. Here, Bond finds himself fighting a private banker funding terrorists in a big high-stakes game of poker at the famous Casino Royale in Montenegro.


The Ian Fleming novel had been adapted before in TV and in a 1967 spoof of Bond, but this adaptation would be the very first time Eon Producions had a hand here, earning the rights in 1999 after Sony traded them with MGM’s rights with Spider-Man.


Casino Royale would go on to be one of, if not the most important release in the Bond canon. Pierce Brosnan signed on for four movies, with Die Another Day being the last one on his contract. And sure enough, in February 2004, Brosnan officially announced he retired from the role. This meant Eon had to find a new Bond, a new story, and fast.


About 200 different actors were considered, including Karl Urban, Sam Worthington, and Henry Cavill. But out of all the names chosen, the offer was given to Daniel Craig. While he was hesitant to join, as he felt the previous Bond films fell into formula, he became interested in the film once he read the script, and was officially announced on October 14, 2005. The Bond girl casting was extensive too, with Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron and Audrey Tautou considered. In the end, Eva Green got the job.


It’s crazy to say this today, now that Craig’s been loved in the role for so long, but there was massive backlash against Daniel Craig’s casting. Unlike the previous actors, Daniel Craig did not have the typical Bond appearance. The tall, charismatic, and handsome image people associate with Bond didn’t seem to exist in Craig, which resulted in fans feeling as if the producers made the wrong decision, with such catchy websites like danielcraigisnotbond.com. And I thought Star Wars fans were whiny. *ba dum ts*


However, what these fans didn’t know, or at least failed to understand, was that Casino Royale was set to be an entire reinvention of the Bond formula. Both critics and Eon agreed that the Bond franchise was getting stale and too goofy, with Die Another Day being cited as a major example. This meant Casino Royale would serve as a reboot, both in terms of cast, and in tone and style. Writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade made sure that their screenplay was more in line with the original, darker Ian Fleming novels, using the recent Batman Begins as a template on how to do a gritty, more realistic origin story on a timeless character. This resulted in a more inexperienced Bond on his first mission, realistic stunts that stayed far away from CGI setpieces, and a tone that was more reminiscent of Jason Bourne than Roger Moore.




Releasing on November 17, with a more limited marketing campaign in terms of brand and product placement deals. And on its release, Eon proved all the naysayers wrong. With praise from just about every critic, Casino Royale was considered one of, if not the best Bond film ever, with particular praise given towards Daniel Craig. Many even stated he was the first actor to truly capture Ian Fleming’s original portrayal.


And with that immense acclaim, Casino Royale would go on to earn $40.8 million in its opening weekend, a nose behind Happy Feet. It was below the record opening of Die Another Day, but was still a formidable opening, considering it had far less starpower and far more uncertainty going into it. And it also served as the second-biggest debut for a Bond movie up to that point.


However, what matters in the end is the final total, and Craig had the last laugh. With a strong Thanksgiving hold and amazing WOM on its side, Casino Royale finished its run with $167.4 million, ahead of Die Another Day’s $160.9 million.


However, the real story came from the international box office. In the UK, Bond’s homeland, saw both opening day and opening weekend records for the franchise, finishing with £55.4 million. Including a re-release that gave the film a £64 million total, this makes Casino Royale the 19th biggest film in the UK as of 2020. Casino Royale was also the first Bond film to be shown in mainland Chinese cinemas, earning $11.7 million. This would result in an international haul of $438.6 million, and an overall $606.1 million worldwide haul. It was by far the biggest Bond release ever, by all accounts, and gave the franchise the adrenaline it so desperately needed.


People loved this movie for its grittier tone, flawed hero, and engaging storyline, and Eon was rewarded for going against the grain with it. Sure enough, Craig’s Bond would take the property into the stratosphere. While James Bond was always a loved and iconic property, Craig introduced a whole new generation into the series and reinvigorated interest in the property in a big way. We’ll get into all of these in future posts, but all of Craig’s films would go on to be the highest-grossing films in the franchise and made the property into one of the most formidable film franchises out there. So much for Daniel Craig being “not Bond”.


In tenth, Will Smith starred in The Pursuit of Happyness, based on the true story of Chris Gardner. Gardner is a single father dealing with struggle. He was recently evicted from his apartment, and he and his son have nowhere else to go. And despite earning an internship at a brokerage firm, the unpaid position still puts the family on the streets. But with perseverance, Chris Gardner tries to make things better for him and his son.


An emotional story for sure, and one that saw major headlines. Chris Gardner appeared in a 20/20 interview in January 2002. The national response to his story was so powerful, Gardner realized there was solid Hollywood potential here. And so, Chris Gardner became an associate producer for a film adaptation of his life story, with his autobiography written months before the film’s release.




One of the biggest issues Gardner had to face was who would actually play him in this story. Initially, Gardner felt Will Smith, an actor best known for his work in blockbuster action movies, was miscast to play him and wanted somebody known for dramatic work. But he changed his mind when his daughter Jacintha said, "If [Smith] can play Muhammad Ali, he can play you!" So Big Willie was the star here. And in a stroke of genius, Will Smith had his son Jaden play Chris Gardner’s son. Jaden Smith saw his film debut in this movie, because this was the time Will Smith was really shoving his kids down people’s throats. In the end, this was the perfect selling point for this movie. Not only was Will Smith playing a good dad, but he’s playing a good dad next to his cute son. That clever casting would of course do wonders for the movie itself.


Opening on December 15, The Pursuit of Happyness managed to open at #1 that weekend, in spite of the other high-profile openers Eragon and Charlotte’s Web, both of which had bigger budgets and bigger marketing campaigns. At $26.5 million, Happyness was Will’s sixth number one opener in a row, yet another feather in the man’s very fancy cap. And with an uplifting story, an Oscar nomination for Will Smith, and the Christmas season, Pursuit of Happyness would go on to gross $163.6 million and $307.2 million worldwide, becoming Will Smith’s tenth $100 million hit.


As said in 2005, Will Smith had this incredible knack of being able to sell anything with his presence. It could be action, a comedy, or a serious drama, and people would show up because he was just that likable. It’s the kind of versatility and success that I don’t think can or ever will be replicated again, at least when it comes to actors.

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Moving down to fourteenth domestic, eighth worldwide was the epic return of Ethan Hunt with Mission: Impossible III. Tom Cruise once again as Ethan, who just retired from the IMF, settling with his fiancee and training new recruits. However, once a dangerous arms dealer played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman threatens Ethan’s life, he's gotta get out of retirement and save the world.


Despite the massive success of Mission: Impossible II, a sequel took a long time to actually get made. In 2002, David Fincher was set to direct M:I III for a summer 2004 release, but creative differences and a commitment to filming Panic Room led to him leading the project. Shortly after, Joe Carnahan was attached to the project. He worked on the film for 15 months and had a slew of interesting ideas. Kenneth Branagh was set to play the bad guy and parallel Timothy McVeigh, and there were plans to have Carrie Anne-Moss and Scarlett Johansson in the film. Thandie Newton was set to return from the last film, but she rejected it in favor of focusing on her family.


In the end, Joe Carnahan also saw creative differences with the film, resulting in him quitting in July 2004. But Tom Cruise found a good replacement. After binging through the first two seasons of Alias, Cruise called up J. J. Abrams to direct this next installment. Abrams agreed, but because of his commitments to both Alias and Lost, production was delayed a whole year. Branagh, Moss, and Johansson all left the project because of this delay. June 8, 2005, Paramount finally greenlit the film, albeit far from the original product. A new cast was found, the budget was redeveloped, and Tom Cruise had to take a massive pay cut. Of course in the end, it still resulted in a $150 million budget.




Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film was its very controversial marketing campaign. When marketing kicked off, Paramount rigged 4,500 Los Angeles Times vending boxes with digital audio players that played the M:I theme song when the door was opened. However, those players were sometimes unconcealed or just flat-out fell on top of the newspapers in plain view. This resulted in many believing these players were bombs, with bomb squads forced to detonate many of the vending boxes and temporarily shut down a veterans hospital.


However, nothing could compare to the marketing disaster that came from Matt Stone and Trey Parker. In November 2005, the hit animated show South Park did an episode titled "Trapped in the Closet", which mocked the religion of Scientology as well as Tom Cruise, both for his prominence in the religion, and his alleged sexuality. The episode was set to rerun on March 15, 2006, but it was suddenly pulled with no prior notice to the episode "Chef’s Chocolate Salty Balls". The following day, the website Hollywoodinterrupted.com alleged that Comedy Central, which both it and Paramount are owned by Viacom, canceled the rerun because Tom Cruise was so offended by his portrayal in the episode that he threatened to boycott the publicity tour for M:I III.



Whether or not that’s true, this would go on to be reported by other news outlets and cause a slew of bad press for the movie going in. South Park fans then threatened to boycott the upcoming film until Comedy Central put the episode back on the air. Stone and Parker did not respond, reportedly to avoid embarrassing Cruise. Both Tom Cruise and his publicist rejected the notion, but the seeds were sowed, and South Park saw major publicity in the end while Tom Cruise’s image saw even worse reception from the public.


Regardless, Paramount seemed to have high hopes for this installment. With a May 5 opening, Mission: Impossible III played in 4,054 theaters, the second-highest amount of theaters ever for a live-action film, only behind Spider-Man, as well as a massive marketing campaign. Yet despite all those locations and solid reviews, people didn’t really turn up. Opening to $47.7 million, not only was this far below industry expectations, but it didn’t even come close to what the last movie generated. Despite six years of ticket price inflation and stronger reception, Mission: Impossible II was still way above the film, opening to $57.8 million back in 2000.


Maybe it was the poor reception to the second film. Maybe it was the bad publicity Tom Cruise earned since War of the Worlds. Maybe it was the wrath of South Park fans. But for whatever the reason, people didn’t really respond to this. The film would go on to earn $134 million domestically and $398.5 million worldwide. This would result in the worst box office ever for a Mission: Impossible release.


This may seem like a sour note for the franchise, and it very much was. However, one thing in its favor was its critical reception. People who saw it seemed to respond to it well, bringing back some goodwill into the franchise. And that positive response gave Paramount enough confidence to both allow J. J. Abrams to work on future projects and release more Mission: Impossible films in the future. These decisions would make Paramount very happy.


Sixteenth place would see the comedy/documentary hybrid Borat. The brainchild of Sacha Baron Cohen, and the second film of a very loose trilogy, this has one of the most unique formats for any movie, at least in the 21st century.


For those who don’t know, the character of Borat Sagdiyev, a Kazakh journalist unaware of American customs and his offensive viewpoints, was a character in the short-lived cult favorite comedy series Da Ali G Show. Alongside other characters, Borat would conduct real interviews with unsuspecting people, making them uncomfortable by introducing them to Kazakh customs or through Borat stating antisemitic or misogynistic remarks, oftentimes exposing horrible antisemitic or misogynistic people. Sacha Baron Cohen is Jewish.


To Cohen, this idea had potential for a whole feature film, and while 2002’s Ali G Indahouse was a modest success, he felt that because the series and his character were relatively obscure, he can get away with making a whole movie about Borat, following the same format as Da Ali G Show.


Basically, apart from Cohen, Ken Davitian, Luenell, and Pamela Anderson, none of the characters are portrayed by actors, with most scenes completely unscripted. So why did non-actors, often antisemitic, sign on? They were under the guise this was a documentary about a Kazakh man understanding American culture, having no idea they would be exposed for their hateful rhetoric. Thankfully, Cohen and his team required the film’s participants to sign release forms agreeing not to take legal action against the film’s producers. More than 400 hours were shot, with several deleted scenes appearing on the DVD.




The very idea of this saw pretty massive headlines, especially after its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. Its unique format, controversial subject matter, and hilarious crude comedy kept it in the news well into its inevitable release in theaters. However, with it still a supposedly niche comedy based on a sketch show few remember, it was expected to just do modest business. But as the film garnered more and more attention and more and more headlines, people started to get excited. And it would lead to one explosive opening.


On the surface, a $26.5 million opening isn’t anything to write home about. However, what makes this so unique was its limited locations. With only 837 locations, Borat saw sell-outs across the country, and had one of the strongest PTAs of the year, about $31.6 thousand. People were so excited for this film they were willing to travel far and away just to be able to watch it. Even films with similar “need to see to believe” hooks and limited theater strategies, like Blair Witch Project and Fahrenheit 9/11, still got to above 1,000 theaters. Fox put the film in 837 theaters at first as a way to bolster the film’s word-of-mouth for an expansion. But the wait just wasn’t enough, and definitely made executives there very happy.


The following weekend saw the film in 2,566 theaters, and with this large expansion and repeat viewings, Borat rose from its first weekend with about $28.3 million for a 10-day total of $67.1 million. This was officially a phenomenon, as Borat would go on to earn $128.5 million domestically and $262.5 million worldwide.


This instantly turned Sacha Baron Cohen into a comedy superstar and Borat becoming an icon for a time. Alongside his role in Talladega Nights months prior, this banner year allowed him to become one of the biggest comedic actors for a time. However, with that success comes controversy. A lot of controversy.


Because of its unconventional filming, many participants were upset over their depictions in the movie. Some claimed their lives were ruined or they were set up to be part of a hoax, while others tried to take legal action. The villagers of Glod, Romania, where the opening depicting Borat’s homeland took place, sued and stated they were lied to about the nature of filming, and were portrayed as incestuous and ignorant. Baron Cohen reacted to the suits in an interview stating: “Some of the letters I get are quite unusual, like the one where the lawyer informed me I'm about to be sued for $100,000 and at the end says, 'P.S. Loved the movie. Can you sign a poster for my son Jeremy?'"


The government of Kazakhstan also denounced the film for how Borat wrongly portrays the country and its people, though some have defended the film as anti-American rather than anti-Kazakh. Regardless, the controversy was there, and kept the film alive for years to come. And in that sense, bad publicity can oftentimes turn into great publicity with the right marketing behind it.


2009 would see the comedy Bruno, another character Sacha Baron Cohen played in Da Ali G Show, but it saw nowhere near the same popularity or reception. And because of the film’s popularity, Baron Cohen has retired the character because he is too recognizable and too hard to trick people, though he has returned to the role on occasion.


In 17th place was The Devil Wears Prada, based on the 2003 book of the same name. This stars Anne Hathaway as Andy Sachs, a recent college graduate with a degree in journalism who seems to get the role of a lifetime, being the co-assistant to fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly, played by Meryl Streep. However, it’s there she learns Priestly is vindictive, controlling, and demanding, and learns how to fit into the gossipy world of fashion. Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci also co-star.


Interestingly enough, Fox bought the film rights for Lauren Weisberger’s novel not only before it was published, but before it was even finished. It may seem like an odd decision, since nobody would know if it was a best-seller yet. However, Fox executive vice president Carla Hecken loved the manuscript and outline so much, she knew this had a chance to be big.


And thus, a film was underway. Producer Wendy Finerman was on the hunt for a director. And despite his limited experience, only directing one film, Miami Rhapsody, and episodes of both Sex and the City and Entourage, David Frankel was given the opportunity. But it wasn’t easy to get him on board. Frankel felt the material was unfilmable at first, though changed his mind once he saw the 1995 documentary Unzipped, which allowed him a frame of reference.


Another major turn-off to Frankel was the treatment of Miranda Priestly. Not for her antagonistic nature, but for how the movie unnecessarily punishes her. Said Frankel, “My view was that we should be grateful for excellence. Why do the excellent people have to be nice?” Frankel initially dropped out entirely, but his agent persuaded him to stay on. Frankel agreed, though he gave extensive notes on the screenplay.




Speaking of which, the screenplay saw four writers working on it. Peter Hedges worked on it first before passing on it, thinking he could do no more. Paul Rudnick would work on Miranda’s scenes, while Don Roos would rewrite. Yet in the end, the one who saw the final credit was Aline Brosh McKenna, who took her own experience when she was a graduate, attempting to launch a journalism career in New York. McKenna was able to get a solid draft that included Frankel and Finerman’s notes, with a plot that was very different from the novel and emphasized the relationship between Andy and Miranda.


This relationship was best explored in Miranda’s famous cerulean sweater speech, where Miranda connects Andy’s sweater with the fashion found in her magazine’s pages. This was in an earlier draft and was cut from the film, but Meryl Streep insisted on keeping it in. Aline Brosh McKenna would then expand what was supposed to be a few lines into a grand speech that lasted a full page in the script, all about why fashion is so important. This was a grand showcase of the film’s witty dialogue and themes, becoming one of the most memorable parts of the film as a whole.


Streep in particular was a huge selling point both for the movie and Fox. The filmmakers and Fox felt nobody could play the role of Miranda Priestly like Streep would, even doubling her salary just to keep her on board. Streep was interested in the film as it was a way to skewer the fashion world, believing fashion magazines skewed young girl’s minds. By playing Miranda, she would get back at them in a fun, feminist way. While her character was reportedly based on Anna Wintour, Streep insisted on making the character her own, with an American accent, and a more subtle, hushed delivery.


Fox wanted Rachel McAdams to play Andy, thanks to her breakout roles in The Notebook and Mean Girls, but McAdams rejected, wanting to take a break from mainstream projects. Anne Hathaway was very eager to take the part, tracing “Hire me” in the zen garden found in Carla Hecken’s office during a meeting over the project. Sure enough, Frankel gave her the part without the need for an audition.


Long before the film’s release, David Frankel brought over a sizzle reel to Fox as a way to convince them to give more funding to shoot in Paris. However, Fox was so impressed with Frankel’s work, they gave him something even better. They moved the film from its February release to a prime release date on June 30, as a counter program to Superman Returns. All the while, marketing the movie as an event piece.





The marketing immediately struck gold with two preliminary ideas that made the film iconic. The initial teaser poster, a stiletto with a pitchfork for a heel, was supposed to be a temporary one, but became so iconic, it would define the Devil Wears Prada brand, being used on every medium and piece of merchandise for the film. The initial trailer was also just the first three minutes of the film, depicting Andy and Miranda’s first meeting. Initially intended for film festivals as a temporary teaser before they would develop something further, it went over so well it would become the main trailer, building anticipation and intrigue while not giving away anything in the process.


This media hype and brilliant marketing all led to great success on June 30. It earned $27.5 million in its first three days, a solid second place debut. The long weekend, going through July 4, would result in $40.5 million. With solid reviews and broad appeal across both genders, Devil Wears Prada finished its run with $124.7 million domestically and $326.7 million worldwide. This was a career high for Streep, Hathaway, Emily Blunt, and Stanley Tucci.


This would also see a strong increase in the fashion industry among general audiences. While some who worked in the fashion industry decried the film, many argued it was the most accurate it’s ever been. Anna Wintour, who Miranda was supposedly based on, was skeptical on the project, but quite enjoyed it after a viewing, and found her popularity skyrocketing. Meryl Streep would also go on to earn an Oscar nomination for her performance, while Emily Blunt found herself into the mainstream, going on to star in films like Looper, Into the Woods, A Quiet Place, and Mary Poppins Returns.


Since then, Devil Wears Prada has ironically had a greater legacy than Superman Returns, the big film it counter programmed. It not only caused a spark in female event films like Mamma Mia! and 27 Dresses, but also helped cause the birth of more female antiheroines, like Scandal’s Olivia Pope or Game of Thrones’ Cersei Lannister. It would also be a major source for Internet memes and TV show parodies on The Simpsons and The Office. Just recently, word got out about then-presidential hopeful Amy Klobuchar and her mistreatment of her staff and unreasonable demands. This instantly sought Miranda Priestly comparisons.


A television adaptation was set to debut on Fox in 2007, but never even got to the pilot stage, and despite the novel getting a sequel titled Revenge Wears Prada in 2013, both Streep and Hathaway have little interest in continuing. A musical adaptation is also in the works.


And finally, let’s go all the way down to 46th place with The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. This spin-off features a new character named Sean Boswell, played by Lucas Black. After some reckless driving and delinquencies, he and his dad suddenly move to Tokyo, Japan. It is there Sean becomes friends with a kid named Twinkie, played by Bow Wow, and discovers a drifting community in the city, and becomes close with one of its members named Han Lue, played by Sung Kang.


Neal Moritz was ready to make a new Fast & Furious movie, and got to begin work on the film in 2005. There was just one problem: no Vin Diesel and no Paul Walker. Because both men were busy on other projects, Moritz had to get creative and make something that was still unique enough to intrigue fans of the series. This resulted in focusing on the drifting community, a subset of car enthusiasts, having the film take place outside of America, and introduce  a whole new set of characters.


Moritz hired Justin Lin as director after seeing his film Better Luck Tomorrow. While Lin was not familiar with the drifting community, he was obsessed with the first Fast and Furious film when he was in film school, and wanted to harness that energy into something his own. However, it wasn’t easy. Lin hated some of the initial drafts of the screenplay, feeling it was both offensive and dated. This resulted in Lin earning more creative control, allowing him to develop the film his own way, with some mild clashes from the studio heads.


For some reason, Universal Pictures was unable to get Tokyo filming permits, so the team went on ahead without permission. Reportedly, the studio gave Lin a fall guy. When the police arrived, the fall guy would say he is the director, and would spend the night in jail while Lin did his thing. Not making a word of that up.




Tokyo Drift opened on June 16, and opened in third place to about half of what the last movie generated, about $24 million. And with the series’ notoriously frontloaded nature, it finished its run with about $62.5 million domestic and $159 million worldwide. It was expected to gross significantly less than the last two movies because of its spin-off nature and lack of original stars (well, kind of), but with an $85 million production budget, it was still underwhelming.


Yet ironically, Tokyo Drift, the spin-off few saw in theaters, would arguably become the most important film in the entire Fast and Furious series. For starters, this was Justin Lin’s first foray into the universe, who would go on to direct four of the upcoming films in the franchise. Tokyo Drift also garnered a bigger fan following as the years went on. But most importantly, it gave Fast and Furious a bigger universe to play around with.


As I said when I talked about 2F2F, having Vin Diesel/Paul Walker absent in the next few installments was a blessing in disguise. Sure, having Dom and Brian appear in the second movie would have seen a bigger gross for that film, but it probably would have just been more of the same and people would have gotten tired of the series by the fourth or fifth movie.


But Tokyo Drift allowed the universe to expand and develop further. We got to see a new location, giving something distinct and fresh, as well as continuing its franchise potential. We got to see a subset of the drag race community that further shows the respect the franchise has towards the activity. We got to meet some new characters. Specifically, Han Lue, who would become the breakout character of the film and a fan favorite. And it’s thanks to one special little cameo that the franchise really took off.


At the end of the movie, after Han Lue’s tragic death, Vin Diesel pops up as Dom Toretto, mentioning he was good friends with the guy. His appearance was a last-minute choice, an attempt to save the film after poor test screenings. Diesel agreed in exchange for Universal’s ownership rights to the Riddick series and character. But this moment not only connected the film to the greater F&F series, but also got people excited for Dom Toretto to return. There was a chance we got to see Dom one more time, and that fueled intrigue in the franchise, while also letting people become more open to the greater world.


Since then, the films Fast & Furious, Fast Five, and Fast & Furious 6 would serve as prequels to Tokyo Drift, with Han Lue not only appearing, but his death serving as one of the most important events for the series as a whole. And nine movies later, Sung Kang, alongside the rest of the Tokyo Drift cast, saw justice being served. In F9, supposedly coming out in 2021 and supposedly coming out in theaters, Han Lue will see his glorious return from the dead, becoming both the final trailer money shot, and the one thing that’s getting fans and general moviegoers the world over hyped for this next installment. And it all came from a spin-off nobody cared about upon its initial release.


But of course, 2006 had many other stories that I couldn’t fit into here. Talladega Nights continued Will Ferrell’s hit streak, while Stranger than Fiction was a solid alternative piece. Click combined Adam Sandler shenanigans with a fun, “what if?” premise. Over the Hedge was yet another Dreamworks hit. The Departed gave Martin Scorsese a well-deserved Oscar. Little Miss Sunshine stole Eddie Murphy’s Oscar for Dreamgirls. Scary Movie 4 saw the second-biggest April debut. Inside Man became one of Spike Lee’s biggest hits. Open Season was the beginning of Sony Pictures Animation. The Santa Clause 3 combined Disney magic, holiday magic, and Tim Allen magic to modest results. Nacho Libre was the Napoleon Dynamite guy’s epic follow-up. You, Me, and Dupree was the beginning of the rise of the Russo brothers. Julia Roberts played a spider in Charlotte’s Web and an ant in The Ant Bully, the latter of which caused its animation studio to shut down. Monster House was Zemeckis’ second attempt in making mocap animation hot. Eragon was a book adaptation despised by its fans.


V for Vendetta became the inspiration for Anonymous. Rocky Balboa returned to solid returns. Two 9/11 movies were released in the same year. Miami Vice was brought back to poor financial returns. Flushed Away was the end of the Dreamworks/Aardman deal. Poseidon was a complete financial disaster. Curious George combined Will Ferrell with Jack Johnson songs for some reason. The Prestige saw Papa Nolan doing his thing. Apocalypto was Gibson’s Passion follow-up to far less successful earnings. Date Movie saw the tragic beginnings of Seltzerberg. The Wild was Disney’s lame attempt to cash in on Madagascar. Lady in the Water made people realize Shyamalan wouldn’t be the next Spielberg. Pan’s Labyrinth put Guillermo del Toro into the mainstream. Snakes on a Plane sold itself on Internet hype and not much else. 


An Inconvenient Truth made people realize the planet is dying. Clerks II was a too-late sequel nobody cared about. The Wicker Man with Nic Cage became a staple in “so bad it’s good” movies. Clint Eastwood made two World War II movies back to back. Hoot saw one of the worst openings in box office history. Slither was the beginning of James Gunn’s directing career. And lastly, Deck the Halls starring Matthew Broderick and Danny DeVito...came out I guess.


This was 2006.

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Great job, some thoughts:


-It is weird how much there 2000s seem tone in a vacuum at this point. THE DARK KNIGHT and SPIDER-MAN aside, it seems like every huge movie and franchise to come out of this period has died. Pirates 2, like Transformer 2, Matrix 2 etc were just insanely anticipated films yet nobody seems to give a shit about them today. Never on TV, never mentioned in pop culture, its like nobody cares and it all existed just at the moment. 


-The Michael Bay directed, Josh Hartnett, Anthony Hopkins, Scarlett Johanson and Robert Downey Jr starring Superman based on Abrams script would have been an insanely massive hit had it been made for 2004-2005 as WB originally planned. 

Edited by excel1
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2006 was the beginning of a string of great successes

for Fox Searchlight with Little Miss Sunshine

(Juno, Slumdog Millionnaire, 127 Hours, Black Swan followed)


Pan's Labyrinth, the best movie of the 00's in my opinion.

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