Sunday, August 31, 2003
By Bill McCuddy
NEW YORK Even Ben and Jen couldn't keep Hollywood from making money this summer -- at least on other movies besides "Gigli (search)."
Although there's been much written about box-office numbers being down this summer, revenues from early May through Labor Day should still wind up squeaking past last summer's $3.8 billion record -- because ticket prices are higher. Attendance is still off 3 to 4 percent.
There were some surprising winners and losers this summer. For instance, who would have thought a clown fish named Nemo could beat out "The One" named Neo? When "Finding Nemo (search)" took in another $1 million last weekend, its domestic gross hit $330 million, surpassing "The Matrix Reloaded," which has made $278 million since its release.
"Nemo," by the way, also made history by surpassing "The Lion King" to become the top-grossing animated movie ever. Can you say "Nemo 2"?
Everyone said "The Matrix Reloaded" was a can't-miss -- and it didn't. Even though it didn't score the No. 1 spot, the franchise will be No. 1 for the year, when "The Matrix Revolutions" jumps into theaters in November.
The big surprise to finish third could even give Neo a run for his blue pills. "Pirates of the Caribbean" uncovered a $261 million treasure and it's still looting. Who knew Johnny Depp (search) could look so good in mascara?
Jim Carrey's "Bruce Almighty" came in fourth place overall. And the mutants from "X-2" slashed, teleported and blasted their way into fifth place with a $214 million take at the box office.
Other winners include: "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" -- the movie not the gubernatorial campaign -- "Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over" and a sure thing called "Seabiscuit."
Now for the bad news movies: Taking a swipe at "Gigli" is too easy, but there were plenty of other turkeys at the box office. "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," should have been called "Cruise Control Set on 35 Miles an Hour." But these days, even losers can make money. The eye-candy-coated flick brought in nearly $100 million, although that much hype should have been worth more.
The $88 million that "Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde" made seems like a lot -- until you start paying Reese Witherspoon $15 million. This blonde was dumb -- from the script to sad cameos with Bob Newhart and Sally Field.
Finally, Angelina Jolie poured her guts out to Barbara Walters, but it didn't make people see "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life." The film only took in $62 million. Now that could mean it's "game over" for Lara Croft.
Other expected winners that turned into losers included Harrison Ford's comedy, "Hollywood Homicide" and "Sinbad," the animated movie starring Brad Pitt and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Top 10 Summer Movies
1. "Finding Nemo" $330 million
2. "The Matrix Reloaded" $278 million
3. "Pirates of the Caribbean" $261 million
4. "Bruce Almighty" $240 million
5. "X-2" $214 million
6. "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" $99 million
7. "Legally Blonde 2" $88 million
8. "Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life" $62 million
9. "Hollywood Homicide" $30 million
10. "Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas" $25 million