BLOCKBUSTERS & BUSTS
This has been the wacky summer that Hollywood slept with the fishes, and pirates plundered the box-office gold.
It isn’t just that bottom-feeders Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres – in the animated smash “Finding Nemo” – turned out to be a hotter team than Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in the megabomb “Gigli,” which disproved the adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Who would have thought Johnny Depp – a critics’ fave but never hugely popular – in something called “Pirates of the Caribbean” would outdraw everyone from Jim Carrey to Harrison Ford, even giving Keanu Reeves’ Neo and the much-hyped “The Matrix: Reloaded” a run for the money?
Some of the summer’s other notable winners and losers:
* IF YOU FILM IT, THEY WILL COME: Kevin Costner came back from the dead by giving Robert Duvall top billing – and most of the dialogue – in “Open Range,” an old-fashioned western that abandoned the New Agey-schmaltz that had turned off even Kevin’s remaining fans.
* HASTA LA VISTA, BABY: “Terminator 3” gave the waning Arnold Schwarzenegger his biggest paycheck ($30 million) and biggest opening in a decade – so he decides to run for governor. Well, that’s California for you.
* MAYBE NOW HUBBY CHRISTOPHER GUEST WILL HIRE HER: Jamie Lee Curtis, relegated of late to cameos in “Halloween” sequels, scored a critical and box-office success stepping into “Freaky Friday” when Annette Bening bowed out during shooting.
* MOVIEGOERS WITH HORSE SENSE: “Seabiscuit” turned out to have some of the season’s longest legs at the box office – dispelling nagging doubts that moviegoers don’t have the patience for well-told stories.
* NOT IN THE MOOD FOR “BAD BOYS II”?: Audiences disgusted with vile mainstream schlock flocked to art-house hits like “28 Days Later,” “Capturing the Friedmans,” “Whale Rider,” “Swimming Pool,” “Dirty Pretty Things,” “Camp” and “The Secret Lives of Dentists.”
* THERE’S ALWAYS ASHTON: Demi Moore tried to parlay a barely-legal romance into a comeback, but “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle” tanked despite, or maybe due to, her tabloid notoriety.
* ODE TO BILLY BOB: Angelina Jolie attempted to hype the sequel “Lara Croft: The Cradle of Life” by trashing her husband and the first movie, as well as turning U.N. ambassador. Didn’t work, didn’t work, didn’t work.
* JULIA ROBERTS CAN RELAX: The disappointing numbers for “Legally Blonde 2” proved we might have been too quick to crown Reese Witherspoon the new queen of romantic comedy.
* JULIA ROBERTS CAN RELAX (II & III): Ditto for Kate Hudson, who did even worse with “Alex and Emma,” which also extended the once-hot Rob Reiner’s losing streak as a director. Don’t even mention RenÈe Zellweger and “Down With Love” to the folks at Fox.
* LET’S HAVE THE INDIANA JONES SEQUEL SOON: Harrison Ford stumbled badly with “Hollywood Homicide,” while one-time screen dad Sean Connery didn’t fare much better with the extraordinarily awful “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.”
* DON’T GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB: Bob Dylan resorted to the pseudonym Sergei Petrov for the screenplay of the appalling “Masked & Anonymous.” He should have tried the witness protection program.
BLOCKBUSTERS & BUSTS