Well, another year has come and gone, and thus it's tradition to turn back the clock and go over these past 12 months and look at what it's brought us. So I will delve through all of my 2005 The Week in Review columns and analyze the crap out of them, picking out the best and worst for each category. So sit back, relax, and come with me on a journey through this zany year we called 2005.
BOX OFFICE CORNER BREADOWN 2005
There wasn't much good news in this category this year. Movie audiences were as fickle than ever before, which contributed to a record-long "slump", a few blockbuster busts and the lowest yearly take since 2000. Barring a massive miracle between now and January 1, this will be the first year since 1991 that the total yearly gross won't be higher than the previous year, and, right now, the yearly gross of $8.15 billion (last year's total take was $9.4 billion) is the lowest since 2000's $7.6 billion take. Also in decline were the number of flicks to reach $100 million, with 17 reaching that plateau this year and 22 in 2004. But even in a dismal year, there were a few flicks that stood out among the rest.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith was by far the highest grossing movie of the year. The last chapter in the Star Wars saga took in $380.2 million, almost $120 million more than the 2nd place finisher, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which took home $262.4 million this year. Potter is still out in theaters, but it's really in no position to contend for Sith's throne. While Sith's $108.4 million opening weekend couldn't surpass Spider-Man's $114.8 million opening weekend record, it did bump off Shrek 2 for the 2nd place in all-time opening weekends. While the Jedi's overwhelming gross was no surprise, there were a few flicks that did manage to go under the radar and post some decent numbers.
The biggest surprise, by far, at the box office was the summer hit Wedding Crashers. Sure, most people thought it would take in some decent bank, with a prime mid-July release, a perfect adult-summer story and Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson leading the debauchery along with hot, in more ways than one, newcomer Rachel McAdams. But I doubt anyone envisioned the box office performance the Crashers put up. It's currently the 4th highest grossing movie of the year, which should probably hold steady, at $209.2 million. This is a nice boost to New Line Cinema, which was searching for post-Lord of the Rings success. The flick only cost $40 million to make, and its box office run was just incredible. It was one of the most consistent movies in years, posting incredibly small declines week after week. It took 10 weeks for the flick to drop 50% from the previous weekend (49.9%, actually) and for its first 10 weeks, it was only dropping about 20 or maybe 30 percent, every single weekend. Add in the surprising takes of the absolutely wonderful/hilarious The 40 Year Old Virgin ($109.2 million) the early-year success of Hitch ($179.4 million), the amazing run of the documentary March of the Penguins ($77.4 million) and many other flicks like Saw II, Four Brothers along with newer, darker flicks with Batman and Willy Wonka, and it's fairly safe to come to the following conclusion: the big kids want their movies back.
The kids market has been controlling the movies for awhile now, with the big push to PG-13 flicks in summertime and adolescent fantasy flicks that have raked in the big bucks. The majority of flicks these days are still PG-13, and flicks like the Harry Potter series continue to rake in the dough. But this year it became clear that adults would like their stake back in the movies as well. All the movies listed above did far better than expected, except for Batman and maybe Wonka, but the rest of the flicks were mostly written off. The beautiful thing about all of these flicks striving in today's marketplace is that they're cheap. Saw II cost $4 million to make and it's at almost $87 million so far. There are box office busts aplenty this year (See: Kingdom of Heaven, Stealth), but most of the small-budget flicks made a fairly healthy profit. It's not even looking so hot for the biggest budget flick of the year, King Kong, which is at $118.7 million so far, working from a mammoth $207 million budget. Even if the big ape does manage to get to $200 million, the profit will be very small, and vastly under expectations. If the studios were smart, they'll start rolling out more high-concept adult-themed flicks, with smaller budgets, because those were really the big winners in 2005.
GOING LIVE BREAKDOWN 2005
Last year I broke the year's websites down into three categories: Best Website, Most Average Website and Worst Website. This year, there were so damn many "average" official websites for new flicks that I'm just dropping this category and going with my Best and Worst Websites of the Year, so here we go.
BEST WEBSITE OF THE YEAR
I didn't even have to go through the past columns for this one, because there was just one site that was head and shoulders above the rest this year, and that site was for Jarhead (www.jarheadmovie.com). This is just one hell of a site, folks. They get all the regular stuff you see on these sites (cast and crew, photo gallery, downloads, etc.) out of the way early, by clicking on Film Info, but after all that, you "Enter the Experience" and go through three interactive menus, Boot, Shield and Storm. Each experience throws tons of facts at you, as you move through the site, with the brash attitude that the Jarheads had for their own Marine Corps in the movie. There is more content here than I've probably ever seen on a movie site, with glossaries of Jarhead terms, old Marine stories that get passed down, facts from the Gulf War as a whole and many other things that will enhance your knowledge on the war. I just wish other sites would take the initiative that this site did, because it's loaded with both style and content and probably the best official website I've seen since doing this column.
WORST SITE OF THE YEAR
Now this one, I had to do some looking into. Like last year, most of the crappy websites from earlier in the year had been significantly updated, so I had to go sites later in the year. The site I'm choosing for Worst Site of the Year went live in early October, and the movie is in theaters now, in limited release, yet this site is STILL the same crappy site it was a few months ago, hence, my Worst Site of the Year goes to All the Kings Men (sonypictures.com/movies/allthekingsmen). Sony was doing a much better job with their sites in 2005, but they were caught napping on this one. All we get here is a shadowed picture of a soldier smoking a cigar or something and a list of the impressive cast. Oh, how can I forget the link to register for updates. That's crucial. This link is useless now, since the movie has already come out, and if they weren't going to update it by now, well, they probably won't ever. Nice job, morons. Way to screw up a site to what looks to be a great movie.
TRAILER PARK BREAKDOWN 2005
Like last year, I'm breaking the year's trailers down into three different categories: Best Trailer, Worst Trailer and Most Misleading Trailer.
This was the toughest pick of all the trailers, but I'm going with Sin City by a very slim margin over Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. This was probably the coolest movie of the year (not best, but coolest) and the trailer gave us a slick glimpse of this awesome flick. The trailer is put together incredibly well, using some great music, showing us all the key players in action and then showing, basically in full, the whole ensemble cast, which I think probably helped draw many in to this movie, since you wouldn't expect the likes of Elijah Wood or Josh Hartnett in a movie of this nature. This is just one hell of a trailer, folks. It doesn't give away that much, and teases you with the look and feel of the movie (as well as Jessica Alba) and has you reeled in by the end. You just can't get much better than that, folks.
WORST TRAILER OF THE YEAR
There were a couple of just wretched trailers this year, but my Worst Trailer of the Year has to go to One Night With the King. It goes all indie on us, trying something new by giving us the whole opening credit sequence like you'd see in a normal movie. I actually recall stopping this "trailer" to check and see if I clicked on a "First 10 Minutes" clip or something, because I've never seen it done in a trailer. There's a good reason for that: it's a just a flippin stupid idea. Of course, once you get through this moronic opening, you get not much else, just a string of random shots, hastily thrown together to give a semblance of a movie trailer. One of the worst trailers one will ever view.
MOST MISLEADING TRAILER OF THE YEAR
This is always a favorite of mine. This goes to the movie that I thought would be so awesome due to the trailer, but ended up dissapointing the crap out of me. While, by box office totals alone, I'm sure many will disagree with me, I'm going with War of the Worlds. This movie just wasn't at all what I expected, in a bad way. You got all these big names thrown at you with Spielberg, Cruise, Tim Robbins and even the wonderful young actress Dakota Fanning. Even the name among names for blockbuster screenwriters, David Koepp, wrote this movie, and he probably dropped the ball the most in this flick. While the visuals were simply stunning in every aspect, the story just didn't stick the way I thought it would. The trailer did a fabulous job at sticking to the visuals, using the looming machines and amazing destruction to hook-line-and-sinker you into the theater, which it did in glorious fashion to the tune of $234.2 million. I wasn't worried about the story at all, with Koepp on board, so with all those big names, and the style of the flick, I thought this was a no-brainer. Turns out it was the movie that didn't have much of a brain after all...
BEST NEWS OF THE YEAR
This was an extrememly tough decision this year, because there were several news items that I am insanely excited about. So, in order to whittle the choices down, I decided to go with the news item that had the most going for it, overall, with a great cast/crew and a great story as well. So, with that in mind, my Best News of the Year goes to Will Ferrell and Jon Heder for their new project Blades of Glory.
The reason I picked this, just over Brad Pitt's flick Chad Schmidt, is simple. When I read these news bits, the normal reaction from me, for a great-sounding movie, will be a "Huh. That's cool" or something along those lines. When I read this news bit, I literally laughed out loud... a LOT! I just couldn't help it. It sounded that damn funny that reading that little news item made me laugh so much. Now, if I can laugh that much at just reading a tiny synopsis from a news bit, I'm thinking how much harder I'll laugh at the actual movie. With these comic stars, pretty much an old-school-meets-new-school teaming, starring in this great, original story, I'm thinking my sides will be killing me when this hits the theaters.
WORST NEWS OF THE WEEK
While I did go through every single one of my columns, when I came across this horrific story, I basically knew I had my Worst News of the Year... but I had to just check everything else out to make sure. But, low and behold, my choice stuck. So, without further ado, my Worst News of the Year, hands down, goes to Rob Schnieder for (I'm warning you now, this will not be good) starring AND directing a flick called Big Stan.
Yes, that's right. Rob Schneider will be at the helm of a feature film. He barely knows how to STAR in a movie, let alone frickin direct it! So, what's the movie about, you may ask? It's about Schneider, upon learning he's to be jailed, hiring a martial arts expert to help him fend off the cons in the yard and the shower. Shocking as it may sound, this is the writer, Josh Lieb's, first feature film, although he has written for TV. Still, aren't we tortured enough by seeing Schneider starring in these horrible movies he's toplined, but now he'll be directing? My brain is caving in at the moment. He is horrible under others direction, and now he'll be directing himself, in the LEAD ROLE! That's like bringing a Budweiser truck to a high school football game, and expecting the kids to behave themselves. We'll probably see Schneider at his worst here, with him calling the shots to himself, and if his old buddy Adam Sandler produces here, it will be even more out of control, in the worst possible way. Maybe, though, this will be a blessing in disguise. Maybe he'll just fail so utterly and miserably bad that he'll have to re-think his approach a bit, or, best case scenario, won't get much work for awhile. Let's hope and pray for the utterly miserable failure, folks. Pray like you've never prayed before, because a movie that bears the tag "A Rob Schnieder Film" literally scares me more than the Jigsaw, Freddy, Jason, Michael Meyers and Rosie O'Donnell combined.
What a year 2005 was. Thanks for coming on this crazy ride with me, and buckle up for next year, baby! So always remember, folks, if it looks like a good time, sounds like a good time and feels like a good time... it probably isn't free.