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2003-08-06 tracking life & times section
What are the top 10 movies so far in 2003?
Cletus Turner


"Finding Nemo" was a favorite among kids and adults alike. (click for larger version)
Since we have hit the half way point in the year, I thought it would be a good time to see what movies might make the top 10 of the year. This list is only those movies that have grossed the highest. Whether they will make the ten best of the year is still to be seen. We have movies like Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Matrix 3 and several other films that are purported to be among the best to see before we can make a definitive list.

This summer at the box office has been one roller coaster of a ride. For the year, eight of the ten highest grossing movies were released during this summer. Four of the top ten are sequels. This isn't too surprising since there have been so many sequels this year. However, some of the movies that have grossed the highest on their opening weekend plummeted and are only in the top ten because of their spectacular opening.

Number ten is 2 Fast 2 Furious. This sequel to the surprise hit of last summer opened to the tune of $50.4 million. This opening kept it in the top ten although just barely. The film stars Paul Walker in his cop role, but in a new case and new setting. The film is lucky that its opening was so huge, that opening was almost half of its total for the year. Fast grossed $124 million.

The Hulk, at number nine, was lucky it had a huge opening. It opened at $62.1 million on June 20. The film, which was highly publicized and touted as one of the best of the year, fell 70 percent from its opening and never recovered. Bad word of mouth and unfavorable reviews killed it. I happened to be one of those who gave the film an unfavorable review. It ended its run with $129 million.

Bringing Down The House is one of two films in the top ten that was not released during the summer. The Steve Martin/Queen Latifah hit was a surprise for many insiders. They expected the film to do well, maybe even hit $100 million. They did not expect it to gross $132 million and be in the top ten grossing films of the year. In fact, this film did something unusual. Most films have a large opening and then dwindle down till they finally leave the theaters. By large opening, we mean $50 million or more. This film, however, slowly declined and was able to be consistent in its slow fall. It didn't have a large collapse and this was what contributed to its high gross. There aren't many films that can claim this ability. One of the few was My Big Fat Greek Wedding from last year.


Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston star in "Bruce Almighty." (click for larger version)
The connection of Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson was potent enough to land Anger Management at number seven in the top ten. This was another film which didn't start off with a large opening. Instead, it was again a consistent decline with no large collapses. Anger had mixed reviews, however, the fans of both the lead actors helped to make this film a hit. The film ended with $133 million for its run.

Terminator 3, at number six brought Arnold back to the land of hits. Arnold Schwarzenegger had been languishing in the dumps after failed attempts at movies like The Sixth Day and Collateral Damage. Now, "he's back" with the film series that made him a household word. T3 opened to a fabulous $44 million and has reached $142 million overall. The film, which continues the sequence of events first began in the 1980's film Terminator and continued in the 1992 film T2. Arnold doesn't have Linda Hamilton to pal around with on this film, but it doesn't destroy the continuity mainly because its been 10 years between films. T3 in some ways is still a disappointment because the opening wasn't as large as some expected it to be. Plus, in a summer soaked with sequels, movie goers were growing tired.

Number five is Pirates of the Caribbean. The surprise hit of the summer, Pirates opened to $46.6 million and just never looked back. It was able to slowly decline rather than tumble like Hulk did earlier in the summer. Johnny Depp took pirates to another level and had audiences clamoring for more. Pirates has grossed $209 million so far.

Number four is X2. The sequel to last summers hit about mutants opened to $85 million and is the second biggest opening of the year. The movie, which stars Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry, continues the tale of the X-Men and their struggle for acceptance and equality. Although the characters are from a comic book which first began in the 1960's, the film's writers decided to work from scratch to make the group more contemporary. X2 has grossed $214 million and counting.


"X-men" made a big splash in theaters. (click for larger version)
Number three is Bruce Almighty. Jim Carrey went back to hit roots and scored a huge hit. The film opened with $67 million on its way to $238 million. The story had Bruce, played by Carrey, given awesome power by God, played by Morgan Freeman, and the effects on Bruce's life.

Number two is The Matrix Reloaded. Keanu Reeves revived his character of Neo and the long-awaited sequel opened with the highest total for an R rated film. With $91.7 million in its first weekend, Reloaded was the highest grossing film of the year. Until the sea, washed it all away. the film has grossed $277 million and is still in release.

Finding Nemo from Disney took Reloaded's crown away. With a stellar opening of $70 million, the fish story just wouldn't go away. The film is still in the top ten after two months in release. It is expected to knock The Lion King out of the top spot for animated films. However, since movie tickets are higher than when King was released, total audience numbers for Nemo won't be big enough to knock the King out.

The total gross for the top ten so far is 1.91 billion. This is actually down seven percent from last summer.

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