Hollywood ’01: family films and action flicks

With the holidays approaching, Hollywood execs tally up the foot-printed, gum covered, torn in half ticket stubs from movie theater floors. With box office receipts and the holy grail of hits and bombs this year comes before the public for judgment come Oscar time.
The top grossing films of 2001 were in a variety of genres. Action and drama didn’t quite make it this year. The big bucks came from “Shrek,” the lovable cartoon Ogre, voiced by Mike Myers, in addition to an all-star cast including Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and John Lithgow.
Brendan Fraser in “The Mummy Returns” did well with totals reaching $201 million plus, which isn’t too bad for a sequel. Of course everyone’s favorite lunatic, Hannibal Lechter made a return in “Hannibal,” directed by Ridley Scott. Jodie Foster stays at the farm this time while Julianne Moore fills in as Hannibal’s prey, Clarice Starling.
“Jurassic Park 3” met fans halfway with shallow ticket lines for both critics and the box office, but fans still worship the computer-generated carnivores with an offering of $162 million. Intelligent apes stormed the screen in Tim Burton’s remake of “Planet of the Apes.” Angelina Jolie became a video game star in “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.”
Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker got together again for Kung Fu crusades in “Rush Hour 2.” The yearly box office drops were “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “The Fast and the Furious” with the least ticket sale figures.
Next year shows promise for the Hollywood moguls as they cash in on the holiday season and video market with family films seeming to be the new year’s choice for 2002. “Jurassic Park 3,” “The Mummy Returns” and “Pearl Harbor” are the choice picks for movie buffs awaiting their release on video.
“Planet of the Apes” wasn’t the big hit that it led audiences to believe. The plot took a bizarre twist and probably left audiences confused. “Pearl Harbor” definitely bombed with critics but not at ticket counters. The only hitch was its length. With more than three hours, the plot wasn’t captivating enough and parts bordered on melodrama. Great special effects for the audience but not well made story.
“Jurassic Park 3” was interesting but everyone’s favorite Tyrannosaur was being surpassed by something bigger. There are plenty more surprises on the mysterious island. It had some good action but the story didn’t pick up where “The Lost World” left off. Vacationers lost on the island and the gullible Dr. Grant is lured into a rescue mission. The dinosaurs were the hit, but again without Stephen Spielberg at the wheel.
“Harry Potter” has already taken family moviegoers by storm. Its opening weekend tied “Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace” for most turnout. “Behind Enemy Lines,” starring Gene Hackman looks like a good pick for action and war film buffs. Wesley Snipes returns in “Blade 2” and Ewan McGregor stars in Ridley Scotts’ “Black Hawk Down.”
The big event of 2002 that everyone’s talking about is the release of “Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones.” George Lucas calls it a work in progress so we may see some changes made since the most recent ins