Warner Bros.’ large and eclectic slate produced wildly varying results in 2003.
It was the year of “The Matrix.” Larry and Andy Wachowski’s two sequels, released six months apart in a storm of hype, were the cornerstones of Warners’ slate.
“The Matrix: Reloaded” grossed close to $750 million worldwide. But both films faced a fierce critical backlash, and “Revolutions” generated roughly half the theatrical grosses of “Reloaded,” despite a record-breaking global saturation release.
Internationally, Warners was dominant, charting $1.5 bil in overseas B.O.
“It’s another record year,” Warners Entertainment prexy Alan Horn says. “The international success has underscored the solidity of our approach.”
Studio’s approach is largely the same as in years past: four or five tentpoles to anchor a 20-picture slate.
But studio has made internal adjustments. Production chief Jeff Robinov marked his first full year on the job. He brought several producers to the lot and kick-started Warners Independent.
Robinov has sought to bring over more prestigious directors, matching high-stakes material to such auteurs as Alfonso Cuaron (“Harry Potter”) and Christopher Nolan (“Batman”).
“We’re trying to marry art and commerce,” Robinov says.
One black spot was “Looney Tunes: Back in Action,” which earned roughly $20 million at the B.O., throwing cold water on a corporate initiative to breathe new life into such venerable characters as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.
But some smaller pics enjoyed breakout success. “Mystic River,” “Kangaroo Jack” and “Gothika” all grossed more than $50 million, driving U.S. box office for the slate north of $1.1 billion.
“Mystic River” and “The Last Samurai” also brought the studio a new measure of awards-season prestige. Together they earned eight Golden Globe noms.