Archive for the ‘Box Office Gold’ Category

8 Legitimate Box Office Draws

November 25, 2009

When I was editing my Weekend Fix video, cutting out clips and fast forwarding through parts of it to keep the time down, I cringed a little bit when I had to cut out the bit about Sandra Bullock being one of the few remaining box office draws.  Indeed, gone are the days when nothing more than an actor’s name could draw audiences to the box office in droves.  Very few movie stars actually exhibit consistent drawing power.  Unlike the Old Hollywood Era of yesteryear, these days, big box office grosses have more to do with spectacle, story, or popular franchises than they have to do with the actors’ popularity. Still, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few names that can truly mobilize the masses and get people into the theaters.  Therefore, since I didn’t get to say my piece in my video, and it is List Wednesday, I present to you (in no particular order) these eight legitimate box office draws:

Sandra Bullock

The fantastic $34.1 million debut of The Blind Side inspired this list, and Sandra Bullock has proven time and time again that she can open movies.  Beautiful, hilarious, and yet somehow down-to-earth and relatable, Bullock comes across as funny and appealing to guys, and appealing as an everyday woman to her fellow females.  While her main audience is certainly females, and most of her big box office hits are romantic comedies (Miss Congeniality – $106 million, Two Weeks Notice – $93 million, The Proposal – $163 million), she’s proven a few times that she’s more versatile than that.  Look no further than Speed, with its $121 million gross, or The Blind Side‘s current box office performance- she’s a true-blue box office star.

Adam Sandler

I wrote about Sandler’s box office viability extensively a while ago.  You can read that post here.  All you have to know, is that this man is one of the smartest decision makers in Hollywood.  He knows his target audience, and he constantly releases films that they want to see.  Voila!  You’ve got a formula for great box office results.

Jim Carrey

The go-to man for comedy.  Jim Carrey, more than any other funnyman in the last 20 years, has established himself as the most popular comedian at the box office.  Audiences love his brand of absurd facial expressions and heartfelt sincerity.  He’s been trying to branch out lately, but when he sticks to high profile, big budget releases like Fun With Dick And Jane ($110 million), Bruce Almighty ($242 million), How The Grinch Stole Christmas ($260 million), Liar Liar ($181 million), and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls ($108 million) features, he really hits his stride and rakes in the dollars.  I personally love it when Carrey mixes his comedy persona with some more serious roles, like in The Truman Show, which resulted in great reviews great box office ($125 million).

Jennifer Aniston

People love to tear down Jennifer Aniston, saying she hasn’t been successful as a movie star and that she should have stuck to TV.  I beg to differ.  When Aniston sticks to the breezy romantic comedy genre, she’s remarkably popular.  She’s found big success with films like Along Came Polly ($88 million), The Break Up ($118 million), Marley And Me ($143 million), He’s Just Not That Into You ($93 million).  By my calculations, that makes someone a movie star.

Will Smith

Like Sandler above, way back in the day, I dedicated a whole post to Will Smith’s box office success.  I don’t need to tell you how famous he is… Just read the old post and add 2008’s $227 million gross for Hancock to the mix.

Brad Pitt

The godfather of all celebrities has really established himself as a major box office force in the 2000s.  He doesn’t have as much of a defined genre as some of the other people on this list, but he typically plays cocky, comedic characters, though he has done his fair share of dramas as well.  In the last decade, he’s found success with Oceans Eleven ($183 million), Troy ($123 million), Oceans Twelve ($125 million), Mr. And Mrs. Smith ($186 million), Oceans Thirteen ($117 million), The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button ($127 million), and Inglorious Basterds ($120 million).

Katherine Heigl

Heigl is certainly the youngest and least proven actor on this list, but in the last three years, since che burst onto the scene in TV’s Grey’s Anatomy, she has chosen her film roles wisely, and I have my eye on her as the young box office star with the most potential drawing power.  She already has figured out that her bread and butter is in the romantic comedy genre.  In 2007, she starred in Knocked Up, which grossed $146 million.  In 2008, she took 27 Dresses to $76 million.  And in 2009, she helped The Ugly Truth to $88 million.  If she continues to pick strong roles within her genre, she’ll keep seeing strong returns.


Adam Sandler – Box Office Gold

December 22, 2008

Many people were surprised when, way back, Disney announced that Adam Sandler would be headlining their big Christmas Day release, Bedtime Stories. Famous for his foul-mouthed, underachiever characters, Sandler did not seem ideally suited for a family-friendly Disney release. Nonetheless, it looks like the Mouse House has found a way to take his persona, and make it wholesome. Think Vin Diesel in The Pacifier. Some are turned off by the idea, but what do I see here? I see a very smart and very lucrative decision by Walt Disney Pictures, because while Adam Sandler loves to play the slacker in his movies, his movies do not slack when it comes to the box office. In fact, he may well be the most consistent box office performer of our time. Love him or hate him, the man knows how to choose his movies and please his audience. Take a look at this unlikely superstar’s remarkably great track record:

Early Days: 1994-1996Sandler was a regular on Saturday Night Live from 1990-1995, and like most other popular cast members, the next step was to try to transition into film. However, his first few efforts were nothing to brag about, as none of them even cleared $40 million. Still, despite the poor box office receipts, Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison found hugely success on TV, and they became career defining roles for Adam Sandler.

1994 Airheads – $5.7 million
1994 Mixed Nuts – $6.8 million
1995 Billy Madison – $25 million
1996 Happy Gilmore – $38 million
1996 Bulletproof – $21 million

Building His Star: 1998-2000A role opposite Drew Barrymore in 1998’s The Wedding Singer took Sandler’s career to new heights, as the romantic comedy raked in a solid $80 million. But it was the one-two punch of The Waterboy and Big Daddy that solidified Adam’s place in Hollywood. The comedies were both huge successes, and even with the slightly disappointing performance of Little Nicky, no one could deny that Sandler had become a legitimate box office draw.

1998 The Wedding Singer – $80 million
1998 The Waterboy – $161 million
1999 Big Daddy – $163 million
2000 Little Nicky – $39 million

Laughing All The Way To The Bank: 2002-NowEvery year for the past seven years, Sandler has released a $100 million earner, a feat that very few people can achieve. He has wisely chosen his scripts, starring in comedies that showcase his unique brand of deadbeat humor, buffoonery, and a little dash of heart. He has truly mastered the art of playing the slacker, and audiences, who love knowing what to expect from a star, respond to his consistent style. In between his smash hit comedies, Sandler has taken some chances with more dramatic fare. However, while reviews for Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Spanglish (2004), and Reign Over Me (2007) were much better than for his comedies, their box office didn’t match up. They earned $17 million, $42 million, and $19 million, respectively. Still, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Sandler is, without a doubt, the box office king of comedy. Want to see consistency? Well, here’s a rundown of all of his comedies from 2002 onward:

2002 Mr. Deeds – $126 million
2003 Anger Management – $135 million
2004 50 First Dates – $120 million
2005 The Longest Yard – $158 million
2006 Click – $137 million
2007 I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry – $120 million
2008 You Don’t Mess With The Zohan – $100 million
2008 Bedtime Stories – ?????

The combination of Sandler’s massively successful career with Disney’s incredible promotional abilities, I’m expecting big things from Bedtime Stories. I’ll post my full prediction in this week’s Weekend Preview, but in the meantime: What do you think of Sandler’s success? Which is your favorite movie of his? And how do you think Bedtime Stories will perform? Let your voice be heard in the comments below.