Best 10 Surprisingly Successful 2000s Summer Blockbusters


Best 10 Surprisingly Successful 2000s Summer Blockbusters of the Year 2023

The summer movie extravaganza is a time of pure excitement for film fanatics. We can hardly contain our anticipation for the sizzling tales that Hollywood has in store for us. The 2000s were a fierce battleground for movie studios, as they aimed to recreate the magic of the unforgettable hits from the ’90s.

Fortunately, the dawn of the new millennium gifted us with a treasure trove of films. There was an abundance of both quantity and quality. While iconic movies like The Dark Knight and Spider-Man stole the spotlight, there were also hidden gems that raked in heaps of cash, flying under the radar of many.

So, let’s embark on a nostalgic journey and rediscover some of the summer blockbusters from the 2000s that turned out to be surprisingly lucrative, even if they’ve slipped from the collective memory of today’s moviegoers.

1. Journey to the Center of the Earth

Journey to the Center of the Earth
In 2008, a summer release called Journey to the Center of the Earth was based on the classic novel by Jules Verne. This story has been adapted numerous times, and this movie offered a fresh take on it. The film follows Professor Trevor Anderson, played by Brendan Fraser, his nephew Sean Anderson, played by Josh Hutcherson, and Hannah Sigurbjornsdottir, played by Anita Briem, as they embark on a journey to the center of the Earth and explore the hidden world within.

Journey to the Center of the Earth found success at the box office, earning a total of $244 million. It was able to capitalize on Brendan Fraser’s popularity and his reputation as a likeable actor. Although it may not have been the top-grossing film of the summer, it held its ground in the midst of tough competition from other family-friendly movies such as Wall-E and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

2. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
In the summer of 2010, a movie called Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time hit the theaters. Although it didn’t quite break the curse of video game movies, it still managed to provide a good time for those seeking an action-packed adventure. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan of Persia, who joins forces with Princess Tamina (played by Gemma Arterton) to thwart the wicked plans of his uncle (portrayed by Ben Kingsley) to control time.

Despite facing criticism for its whitewashing of characters, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time raked in an impressive $336 million at the box office during that summer. This achievement is especially noteworthy considering the historical struggles of video game adaptations on the big screen. Moreover, the film had to compete against blockbuster hits like Toy Story 3 and Inception at the time.

3. Hancock

In the summer of 2008, there was a significant release in the world of comic book movies. Alongside Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, and The Dark Knight, another superhero film made its mark: Hancock. Starring Will Smith as John Hancock, a superhuman with a careless attitude, the movie explored his struggle with public perception. Despite saving people, his destructive actions led to public hate. In an effort to change his image, Hancock hires a publicist named Ray, played by Jason Bateman. Along the way, he meets Mary, Ray’s wife and another superhuman, who chooses to hide her powers and live a normal life in the suburbs.

The superhero craze was clearly in full swing, as Hancock raked in an impressive $629 million at the box office, surpassing the earnings of Iron Man. Surprisingly, a sequel was never made, which is quite strange considering the immense profit it generated and Hollywood’s usual inclination to milk successful franchises.

4. Dinosaur

Summer Release: 2000

Box Office: $349,822,765

When it comes to Disney movies, most people immediately think of classics like The Lion King or Pinocchio. However, there is one Disney film from 2000 that seems to have been forgotten over time – Dinosaur. This heartwarming tale follows a group of lemurs who adopt an orphaned dinosaur named Aladar (voiced by D.B. Sweeney) as part of their family. As a meteor shower threatens their home, they embark on a journey to find a new safe haven, all while being pursued by dangerous and hungry creatures. The voice cast includes familiar names like Hayden Panetteire, Alfre Woodard, and Julianna Margulies.

While Dinosaur may not be as well-known as other Disney movies, and its combination of live-action and early CGI effects may not hold up to today’s standards, it was a success during the summer of 2000. Surprisingly, it raked in nearly $350 million worldwide, surpassing even the blockbuster X-Men in terms of box office earnings.

5. Van Helsing

Van Helsing
Summer Release: 2004

Box Office: $300,157,638

It’s surprising that a sequel to 2004’s Van Helsing hasn’t happened yet. This movie had everything: a cool gothic vibe, a badass monster hunter named Gabriel Van Helsing played by Hugh Jackman, and a whole bunch of supernatural creatures for him to slay, including the iconic Count Dracula himself, portrayed by Richard Roxburgh.

Van Helsing’s thrilling journey to Transylvania was filled with intense battles against vampires, werewolves, and even a cameo by Dr. Frankenstein, played by Samuel West.

Despite facing tough competition from other big films in the summer of 2004, like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Van Helsing managed to rake in over $300 million at the box office. That’s no small feat and clearly shows that there was an audience hungry for more, even if a sequel never materialized.

6. The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Summer Release: 2008

Box Office: $403,449,830

The Mummy franchise surprised everyone with The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, proving that there were still untold stories to explore. Brendan Fraser reprised his role as Rick O’Connell, with Maria Bello stepping in for Rachel Weisz as Evelyn. Joining the cast is Jet Li, playing the antagonist Han the Dragon Emperor, an immortal ancient warrior who seeks to conquer the world. Rick and Evelyn must find a way to stop him.

Despite earning less than its predecessors and receiving mixed reviews from critics, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor managed to surpass the $400 million mark at the box office. This achievement is even more impressive considering the movie was released in a highly competitive summer alongside blockbusters like The Dark Knight and Kung Fu Panda. It’s worth noting that recasting main characters in franchises can be controversial, but the transition from Weisz to Bello did not hinder the film’s financial success.

7. Wanted

In the summer of 2008, a thrilling movie called Wanted hit the big screens. This film, based on the comic book series by Mark Millar and J. G. Jones, tells the story of Wesley Gibson, played by James McAvoy, an office worker who discovers his father was an assassin. He then joins the secret organization that employed his father, where he is mentored by Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman.

Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, who also directed the underrated Night Watch, Wanted is a high-octane spectacle filled with action-packed sequences. Wesley’s unique ability to produce superhuman amounts of adrenaline gives him incredible strength and speed, making for some jaw-dropping moments.

Audiences were captivated by Wanted, and it raked in an impressive $342 million at the box office. This is particularly impressive considering the fierce competition it faced from movies like Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. The fact that Wanted managed to hold its own in such a crowded summer movie season speaks volumes about its quality.

8. S.W.A.T.

Summer Release: 2003

Box Office: $207,725,639

S.W.A.T. is an exciting action film from 2003, starring Colin Farrell and Jeremy Renner. It is based on a TV series from 1975. The story revolves around French drug lord Alexander Montel, played by Olivier Martinez, who is being transported to prison by a S.W.A.T. team. However, Montel offers a huge sum of $100 million to anyone who can set him free. Colin Farrell and Jeremy Renner, along with Michelle Rodriguez, Samuel L. Jackson, and Brian Van Holt, play S.W.A.T. officers who must prevent other criminals from aiding Montel’s escape. They soon realize that some of their own team members might be working against them.

S.W.A.T. faced tough competition at the box office, with movies like 2 Fast 2 Furious, Hulk, and Freddy vs. Jason also hitting theaters during the busy summer season. However, the star power of the cast helped the film climb up the box office charts. It was successful enough to spawn two direct-to-video sequels and even a television series adaptation in 2017.

9. G-Force

Summer Release: 2009

Box Office: $292,817,841

An action-adventure film that may seem absurd, G-Force surprised everyone by becoming a hit among families. The movie follows FBI scientist Ben Kendall (Zach Galifianakis) as he tries to demonstrate that his team of intelligent guinea pig spies, led by Darwin (Sam Rockwell), Blaster (Tracy Morgan), and Juarez (Penélope Cruz), can serve their country just like any other agents.

While other movies like The Taking of Pelham 123 and The Hurt Locker aimed for unique and meaningful stories to captivate the audience, G-Force took a different approach. It presented a simple and enjoyable concept: cute creatures performing heroic acts. Despite receiving negative reviews from critics, the movie’s worldwide gross of $292 million proves that audiences adored the sheer fun of watching rodents as espionage agents.

10. The Perfect Storm

The Perfect Storm
The summer of 2000 saw the release of The Perfect Storm, a movie that defied the declining popularity of disaster films. It tells the gripping true story of the Andrea Gail fishing vessel and its crew, who find themselves trapped in an unstoppable and violent storm. Led by Captain Billy Tyne, played by George Clooney, and his inexperienced crew member Bobby Shatford, portrayed by Mark Wahlberg, they must fight for their survival as their ship is caught between multiple brutal weather fronts and a full-blown hurricane.

Despite the presence of other notable films like Shaft and Scary Movie, The Perfect Storm managed to make an impressive impact at the box office. It earned a staggering $329 million worldwide, securing a spot among the top 10 highest-grossing films of the year 2000. The movie’s breathtaking special effects, which effectively conveyed the treacherous nature of the sea, combined with outstanding performances by the cast, added to its appeal. Audiences flocked to this film, which served as a reminder of the once-dominant genre of disaster movies.

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