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Flicks Flashback: ‘Bride Wars’ & ‘Chasing Liberty’ among weekends past releases

Traditionally, the second week of the new year is a time for many Oscar-bait movies to expand wider and try to lure in the consumer vote. As a result, few studios use this week to open new films…in fact only one new movie will be launched wide today (“The Legend of Hercules”) and it’s not expected be a big earner. Of course as we see in this week’s “Flicks Flashback,” that’s not a major surprise as this date doesn’t normally launch anything more than a few modest hits, though a lot gain a little extra respectability thanks to foreign markets.

"Bride Wars" debuted 5 years ago today
FOX

1 Year Ago

A Haunted House
Original Release Date: January 11, 2013
The Line (in millions) – Budget: $2.5, Opening: $18, Total: $40, Worldwide: $48.9

Gangster Squad
Original Release Date: January 11, 2013
The Line (in millions) – Budget: $60, Opening: $17, Total: $46, Worldwide: $104

Last year at this time two new films made their way into the fray, but while each got off to a good start, neither held that momentum. For Open Road Films though it didn’t really matter as their horror spoof “A Haunted House,” scared $18 million out of the box office, before going onto a $40 million total haul. While that may not seem like a lot of money overall, remember it was made on a scant $2.5 million budget. Not a bad return.

The news wasn’t as glowing for “Gangster Squad” which was pushed out of its original release date due to the Aurora, Colorado shootings. “Squad” earned $17 million its opening weekend, but couldn’t get over the $46 million mark which wouldn’t have been so bad if didn’t carry a marquee cast and a $60 million budget. Still overseas audiences bumped its worldwide cume to a $104 million.

5 Years Ago

Bride Wars
Original Release Date: January 9, 2009
The Line (in millions) – Budget: $30, Opening: $21, Total: $58.7, Worldwide: $115

Five years ago it was the Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson rom-com “Bride Wars” that bowed in theaters and easily won the week with a $21 million opening. Budgeted at just $30 million, the comedy proved to be the exception to the rule and nearly doubled its production costs. While it was critically savaged (Rotten Tomatoes has it at 10% fresh), international audiences also took a liking to it and worldwide the movie scored over $115 million.

10 Years Ago

Chasing Liberty
Original Release Date: January 9, 2004
The Line (in millions) – Budget: $23, Opening: $6, Total: $12.1, Worldwide: N/A

It was a little over a decade ago that singer/actress Mandy Moore was being groomed as a possible “next big thing” by studio executives. However the affable and attractive star never quite broke through and ten years ago this week that became more and more clear as her light romance flick “Chasing Liberty” couldn’t open higher than 6th place with just $6 million. In total the movie co-starring Matthew Goode and Michael Keaton barely hit double-digits, but it did become a light cult classic in certain circles.

15 Years Ago

A Civil Action
Original Release Date: January 8, 1999
The Line (in millions) – Budget: $60, Opening: $15.1 (Wide), Total: $56.7, Worldwide: N/A

Speaking of Oscar-bait, Disney’s “A Civil Action” with John Travolta was expected to be a contender during award season, however outside of a Oscar nod (and Golden Globe win) for supporting actor Robert Duvall, that quickly became a pipe dream. The drama, based on actual lawsuit, expanded wide this weekend 15 years ago and took in $15 million at the box office. While that was enough to win the week, it would only earn a little under $57 million overall, $3 million shy of its budget.

20 Years Ago

The Air Up There
Original Release Date: January 7 1994
The Line (in millions) – Budget: $17, Opening: $5.2, Total: $21, Worldwide: N/A

The majority of Kevin Bacon’s most well-known roles outside of “Footloose” came during the 90’s. This weekend 20 years ago was one of those such films in the basketball comedy “The Air Up There.” Bacon starred as a college coach looking to lock in a big promotion by signing a talented African player, but he soon finds his tribe isn’t very receptive to the idea. Modestly shot for $17 million, the movie was a small hit with $21 million overall and became a cable network favorite.

Next week: “Varsity Blues” celebrates a milestone