Every week, “Charts & Graphs” looks past the weekend box-office numbers to examine other lists of movies that are popular right now, as assessed by the likes of iTunes, Amazon, Box Office Mojo, and other services.
Within days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, media pundits started speculating on when Americans would be ready to watch sports again, or movies, or anything other than wall-to-wall news coverage. During the anniversary of 9/11 yesterday, I tried to remember what that first post-9/11 weekend was like, and went to Box Office Mojo to see if people went to the movies in any significant numbers—and if so, what they watched.
1. Hardball $9,386,342 (Week 1)
2. The Glass House $5,738,448 (1)
3. The Musketeer $5,471,960 (2)
4. Two Can Play That Game $4,604,843 (2)
5. The Others $4,574,678 (6)
6. Rush Hour 2 $4,092,375 (7)
7. Jeepers Creepers $3,844,246 (3)
8. American Pie 2 $3,601,440 (6)
9. Rat Race $3,553,183 (5)
10. Rock Star $3,388,545 (2)
A few notes:
- There was also some speculation in the media that the real life explosions and violence of 9/11 would spell doom for the Hollywood blockbuster—at least in the short-term. Certainly nothing in this top 10 would make people think about terrorism, except for maybe the chases and action in Rush Hour 2. But by the weekend of September 14, Rush Hour 2 had already been out for seven weeks, and had made over $211 million, so it not being in the top 5 means little.
- By the way, the next big action movie to open after 9/11? That would be Training Day, which topped the box office with a take of $22 million on the weekend of October 5. (The previous week, the barely remembered Michael Douglas psychological thriller Don’t Say A Word was number one, with $17 million.) But while Training Day is violent, it’s not “blowing up buildings” violent. I have to flip ahead to the weekends of November 23 and November 30, and the success of Spy Game (which took in $30 million over the long Thanksgiving weekend, on its way a $143 million total) and Behind Enemy Lines ($18 million opening on its way to a $91 million finish) to see Hollywood get back to anything like “business as usual.” Neither of those films opened at number one, though, because Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone dominated November, topping the charts for three weeks straight.
- The weekend after this weekend—the weekend of September 21—saw no new movies of note open, save for Glitter, which finished in eleventh pace while playing on nearly half the number of screens of the number one movie, which was again Hardball.
- So… Hardball, huh? Not the most memorable movie to be “America’s choice,” immediately post-9/11. In fact, looking down this list, I have to admit that I Googled a few of these (The Glass House, Two Can Play That Game) to remember what they were. And I have a hard time remembering which ones I actually saw, outside of The Others, which is an excellent horror movie that doesn’t get talked about much any more—even though it made $218 million domestic.
- Are these numbers low (indicating that Americans stayed home that weekend)? Not necessarily, given that mid-September is often slow. One year earlier, the top movie was The Watcher, which pulled in just under $6 million in its second week of release. (The top new movie that weekend was Bait, coming in at number two with $5.4 million.) In the same weekend of 1999, Stigmata was huge, making $18 million. The year before that, Rounders made $8 million. As for 2002, and 2003? Barbershop and Once Upon A Time In Mexico came up big, with $20 million and $23 million, respectively. And the weekend before 9/11, The Musketeer was number one, with $10 million.