TRIP DOWN MEM LANE
Copyright 2001 www.variety.com
[ December 31st 2001 ]
2001 was a year of record revenue, a boom time
for big film franchises, and a period of soul-searching
over violent action films after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Movie-ticket sales for 2001 will total an estimated
$8.35 billion by the end of New Year's Eve, up
from last year's record of 7.7 billion, according
to box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations.
in an estimated 4 percent rise in average ticket
prices, admissions were up about 5 percent, the
first increase since 1998, said Paul Dergarabedian,
Exhibitor Relations president. Blockbusters such
as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Shrek
and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the
Ring became instant franchises. The next two years
will bring parts two and three of Harry Potter
and Lord of the Rings, while Harry Potter could
become an annual or near-annual franchise through
all seven chapters of J.K. Rowling's fantasy series.
sequel is in the works, along with another installment
of the family espionage hit Spy Kids. Other new
films with followups planned include The Fast
and the Furious and Legally Blonde. 2001 saw its
share of sequels, with Rush Hour 2, The Mummy
Returns, Jurassic Park III, Dr. Dolittle 2 and
American Pie II. The industry's favorite serial
killer returned in Hannibal after a 10-year absence
since The Silence of the Lambs.
five films topped the $200 million mark: Harry
Potter, Shrek, Monsters, Inc., Rush Hour 2 and
The Mummy Returns. Lord of the Rings could become
the sixth film released in 2001 to hit that level.
Among the notable misses were Scary Movie 2, which
grossed less than half the $157 million the first
film took in, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within,
which bombed with just $32 million.
major releases were postponed after the World
Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, notably Arnold
Schwarzenegger's terrorist-themed "Collateral
Damage" and Tim Allen's "Big Trouble," a comedy
whose plot includes a nuclear device on an airplane.
Both films have been rescheduled for release in
2002. Studio queasiness over how audiences would
react to violent films after Sept. 11 has eased.
In the months since then, violent movies such
as Training Day, Don't Say a Word and Spy Game
performed well at the box office, softening worries
about the action films and thrillers that are
among Hollywood's mainstays. "For a while there,
you had to be concerned," said Nikki Rocco, head
of distribution for Universal, which released
Spy Game. "Our job is to give audiences what they
want, satisfying their needs. You had to sit back
and ask, is this appropriate, because everybody's
very depressed and we're at war. I think we've
found everybody made the right decisions."
moved up release dates for two combat films that
had been scheduled for 2002: Behind Enemy Lines
and Black Hawk Down. Besides an all-time revenue
year, the industry had a record summer on the
strength of heavily promoted, widely distributed
movies. Hollywood mastered the method of front-loading
marketing films to ensure monster debuts and pack
in as many viewers as possible in a movie's first
box-office record seemed to fall almost every
weekend, but few films had staying power. Movies
such as Planet of the Apes, Pearl Harbor and Lara
Croft: Tomb Raider opened huge, then nose-dived
as grosses fell by 50 percent or more in subsequent
weekends. "People went to see things opening weekend,
then migrated to the next big movie," said Dergarabedian.
"But regardless of how big those drops were, movies
were making money so fast they were still big
blockbusters. It's not a marathon to $200 million
anymore. It's now a sprint." Only Shrek, Rush
Hour 2 and some smaller hits including The Others,
The Princess Diaries, Memento and Legally Blonde
held up well week after week.
saved the biggest for last. Monsters, Inc. broke
the record for best debut of an animated film
in early November. Opening the week before Thanksgiving,
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone destroyed
most major box-office records, grossing $90.3
million in its first three days. The previous
best was The Lost World: Jurassic Park at $72.1
million. Lord of the Rings swooped in a month
later, topping $100 million in just over a week.
Hollywood's outlook for 2002? Maybe even bigger.
The year will bring the next installments of Star
Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Trek,
Austin Powers, Men in Black, Stuart Little, Spy
Kids and James Bond .