I'm modifying this box office history one final time. And announcing a spin-off blog that will be following it, called The Film Fan, which actually spins off from stuff I previously did at Star Trek Fan Companion. Clearly I like a lot of movies, and want to talk about them. But these things can get a little long. Also, the followup feature here at Scouring Monk will be Fan Tango, a revamped version of the Vantage Point and Seven Reasons to Love features I've done in the past. First up in that series will be Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year.
On to 2006!
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest ($423 mil)
I love that this was a huge success, because this was my favorite entry in the Pirates series. It expands on the mythology in ways that might not have seemed obvious in Curse of the Black Pearl, as we meet Will Turner's dead Bootstrap Bill, for instance, who's a reluctant crewmate aboard the other iconic ship from the series, the Flying Dutchman, captained by the cursed Davy Jones, memorably portrayed with CGI help by Bill Nighy. Jack Davenport, who appeared in the first movie, has a memorably expanded role in this one, helping to make it that much more swashbuckling (which is one of my favorite things about this entry and series, because it's the most notable swashbuckling movie of the modern era, and I love swashbuckling). And it ends on an unexpected note (besides in the release of the Kraken, the beast which Clash of the Titans subsequently built its whole advertising campaign around), reminding everyone that this franchise revolves around Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow.
2. Night at the Museum ($250 mil)
Ben Stiller finds another blockbuster film property!
3. Cars ($244 mil)
As much as I love that this movie stars the voice of Owen Wilson, it's also the point where I officially declared Pixar not as creatively inspired as everyone says it is. Another one strictly for niche audiences, but made into a huge hit because, well, everyone assumes everything Pixar does is golden. This one's fine, but it's no Toy Story or Finding Nemo. And if you wanted more subdued Pixar, you'd be better off looking at Ratatouille, which is arguably the studio's best.
4. X-Men: The Last Stand ($234 mil)
Bryan Singer didn't return for this one. He was replaced by Brett Ratner, who did not actually offend everyone until last year, but still routinely finds it hard to find respect. Perhaps not surprisingly, I love this installment. It's my favorite X-Men flick to date, even, possibly because it's so deeply about the characters, not just on the surface like so many of the others (and pretty much every movie based on a Marvel character), but because it's dark enough to explore them truthfully. Wolverine for once is not at the center of the story, but he's memorably present at the climax, when he's the last one standing against Jean Grey.
5. The Da Vinci Code ($217 mil)
A huge part of why I love Ian McKellen so much, not just because of Magneto or Gandalf, but because he helps elevate this material, along with Ron Howard and Tom Hanks (although even though the book was a huge sensation, the only thing anyone said about this movie was that Tom Hanks sports a mullet). I never read the book. But I adore this movie.
6. Superman Returns ($200 mil)
Just in case anyone hadn't figured it out yet, when a superhero movie is a big hit but not a huge one, it's prone to almost instantaneous backlash. Bryan Singer chose to make this movie instead of the third X-Men, and made the fatal mistake of trying to continue the Richard Donner series with too much reverence. Even Christopher Reeve couldn't do that, Bryan (although people didn't really started to love Reeve again until he was paralyzed, so yeah, people are fickle dicks). Perhaps not surprisingly, I love this movie.
7. Happy Feet ($198 mil)
Rob Williams scores another huge voiceover hit with this computer animated movie about dancing penguins.
8. Ice Age: The Meltdown ($195 mil)
Let's face it, half the reason people love these movies so much is because Scrat is basically an updated version of the transcendent Looney Tunes characters. Pixar did eventually do silent material, but predictably people exaggerated the worth of WALL-E.
9. Casino Royale ($167 mil)
The dawn of Daniel Craig's innovative new James Bond. Some fans thought it was pretty controversial to cast someone with blond hair as 007, but Craig quickly set them straight, once everyone saw how awesome he is in the role. Also part of the Year One trend that Batman Begins helped start.
10. The Pursuit of Happyness ($163 mil)
Will Smith's next shot at strictly dramatic success worked really well, because at this point he could do no wrong.
Other personal highlights:
11. Over the Hedge ($155 mil)
12. Taladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby ($148 mil)
14. Mission: Impossible III ($134 mil)
15. The Departed ($132 mil)
17. The Devil Wears Prada ($124 mil)
18. The Break-Up ($118 mil)
26. The Pink Panther ($82 mil)
29. Nacho Libre ($80 mil)
36. V for Vendetta ($70 mil)
37. World Trade Center ($70 mil)
38. Rocky Balboa ($70 mil)
43. Miami Vice ($63 mil)
50. The Good Shepherd ($59 mil)
51. Little Miss Sunshine ($59 mil)
56. Blood Diamond ($57 mil)
61. The Prestige ($53 mil)
71. We Are Marshall ($43 mil)
73. Lady in the Water ($42 mil)
76. Stranger Than Fiction ($40 mil)
77. The Illusionist ($39 mil)
82. Pan's Labyrinth ($37 mil)
86. 16 Blocks ($36 mil)
87. Accepted ($36 mil)
89. Children of Men ($35 mil)
92. Babel ($34 mil)
93. Snakes on a Plane ($34 mil)
96. United 93 ($31 mil)
101. Stick It ($26 mil)
110. The Black Dahlia ($22 mil)
118. Beerfest ($19 mil)
122. Ultraviolet ($18 mil)
126. Just My Luck ($17 mil)
128. Unaccompanied Minors ($16 mil)
131. Marie Antoinette ($15 mil)
137. Hollywoodland ($14 mil)
138. Letters from Iwo Jima ($13 mil)
148. Zoom ($11 mil)
151. The Last Kiss ($11 mil)
158. The Fountain ($10 mil)
166. A Good Year ($7 mil)
168. All the King's Men ($7 mil)
169. American Dreamz ($7 mil)
211. Brick ($2 mil)
215. The Proposition ($1 mil)
220. Factory Girl ($1 mil)
229. The Good German ($1 mil)
230. Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story ($1 mil)
236. The U.S. vs. John Lennon ($1 mil)
251. Ask the Dust ($700 thou)
263. Down in the Valley ($500 thou)
274. Idiocracy ($400 thou)
275. Don't Come Knocking ($400 thou)
349. Haven ($100 thou)
399. Beowulf & Grendel ($60 thou)
430. Candy ($40 thou)
Source: Box Office Mojo