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The Blind Side Box Office: Sandra Bullock in Year’s Biggest Sleeper Blockbuster

The Blind Side Sandra BullockThe Blind Side with Sandra Bullock: Major box office hit. John Lee Hancock’s sentimental sports drama has passed the $150 million milestone in the domestic market, as it forges ahead to become Sandra Bullock’s biggest hit to date.
  • John Lee Hancock’s “inspirational” sports/family drama The Blind Side confirms that Sandra Bullock is back. After a mid-decade box office slump, Bullock has followed her recent resurgence – see her previous 2009 hit The Proposal – with the year’s biggest sleeper blockbuster.

Disney’s The Princess and the Frog tops domestic chart, but Sandra Bullock sports drama The Blind Side is the real box office winner

Dec. 11–13 weekend box office: Although the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ hand-drawn 2D musical fantasy The Princess and the Frog was the top movie on the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office chart, the Sandra Bullock star vehicle The Blind Side was the weekend’s de facto success story.

As per final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com, The Princess and the Frog, hailed for having Disney’s first black princess, grossed $24.2 million after expanding from two to 3,434 theaters, averaging a barely acceptable $7,049 per venue.

Some affirm that figure is in line with what was expected for this $105 million production (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses) – and that may well be true. Even so, that would still be a wobbly expansion, as The Princess and the Frog will find it impossible to recover its budget at the domestic box office. Total after three weekends out: $27.8 million.

Directed by Ron Clements and John Musker (the duo behind The Little Princess, Aladdin, etc.), The Princess and the Frog features the voices of Dreamgirls actress Anika Noni Rose, Bruno Campos, John Goodman, and Academy Award nominees Oprah Winfrey (The Color Purple, 1985) and Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow, 2005).

The Princess and the Frog fared far better overseas

Update: Despite all the publicity surrounding the Walt Disney Studios’ first black princess, The Princess and the Frog failed to as much as match its production budget at the domestic box office, cuming at $104.4 million.

The animated fantasy fared far better internationally: $162.6 million, for a worldwide total of $267 million. A great figure for an “average” production, but not for one that cost north of $100 million.

The Princess and the Frog’s top international markets were all in Europe: France ($32.4 million), the United Kingdom/Ireland ($16.4 million), Italy ($13.2 million), Germany ($11.8 million), and Spain ($11.6 million).

Mexico was next with $6.1 million. The top black-majority country was South Africa, with a mere $954,500.

The Blind Side box office: Year’s biggest domestic sleeper blockbuster

Now, what about Sandra Bullock and The Blind Side?

A real-life-based Warner Bros. release directed by John Lee Hancock – who also adapted Michael Lewis’ 2006 book The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game – the sentimental family/sports drama stars Bullock and real-life country singer Tim McGraw as an affluent white couple who adopt a football-playing inner-city black teenager (Quinton Aaron).

U.S. audiences have lapped it all up: This past weekend The Blind Side passed the $150 million domestic milestone after collecting another $15.1 million (down only 25 percent from a week ago). Current total after four weekends: $150.2 million.

Reportedly budgeted between $30–35 million, The Blind Side is well on its way to becoming the biggest Sandra Bullock domestic box office hit ever, even when taking inflation into account.

Bullock’s no. 1 commercial success to date remains one of her first movies as a star, Jan de Bont’s Speed. Co-starring Keanu Reeves, the 1994 action thriller pulled in $121.2 million, or about $217 million today.

Update: The Blind Side has sped past Speed.

The Blind Side John Lee Hancock Sandra BullockThe Blind Side with director John Lee Hancock and star Sandra Bullock.

Why did this particular sentimental sports drama become such an unexpected hit?

Box office “experts” explain the surprising success of The Blind Side in the following manner:

  • Sandra Bullock lured women moviegoers. (As if Bullock hasn’t had her share of box office flops/disappointments in the last few years – e.g., the 2007 thriller Premonition and, just a few months ago, the comedy All About Steve.)
  • The sports-themed story lured the men. (As if every year there aren’t sports movies that flop miserably, or, as in the case of this past weekend’s Invictus, turn out to be commercial disappointments.)
  • “Families” checked it out because of the “inspirational” storyline about a wealthy white woman who helps out a young, disadvantaged black football player. (Once again, check out the “inspirational” Invictus’ underwhelming box office revenues.)
  • Christians were enticed by the family dinner table prayer scene. (Everything’s possible.)

In other words, no one really knows why this particular sentimental sports drama struck a chord with a significant segment of the American moviegoing public.

2009 (not quite fool-proof) box office magnet Sandra Bullock

Whatever the reasons, The Blind Side is Sandra Bullock’s second major 2009 domestic box office hit, following Anne Fletcher’s romantic comedy The Proposal ($164 million), in which she co-stars with Ryan Reynolds.

Indeed, from a commercial standpoint Bullock is enjoying one of the best years ever for any actress. True, her third 2009 star vehicle – the Phil Traill-directed comedy All About Steve, costarring Bradley Cooper and Thomas Haden Church – was an all-around dud, but even when adjusting for inflation, how many actresses have had two $150+ million hits in the same calendar year? Not even Barbra Streisand during her heyday in the 1970s.

Prior to The Proposal and The Blind Side, Bullock’s last star vehicle to pass the $100 million milestone in the U.S. and Canada was Donald Petrie’s Miss Congeniality ($106.8 million) back in 2000. Adjusted for inflation, Marc Lawrence’s 2002 romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice, co-starring Hugh Grant, is her only other pre-2009 release this century to reach nine figures domestically (around $120 million in 2009 dollars).

The other female-centered blockbuster

Also of note, this year’s only other live-action blockbuster centered on a female character is Chris Weitz’s The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which revolves around Kristen Stewart’s distraught human Bella Swan, torn between a centenarian vampire (Robert Pattinson) and a teen werewolf (Taylor Lautner).

Coincidentally, New Moon opened on the same day as The Blind Side. After several steep weekend-to-weekend drop-off rates, the former is currently trailing the latter on the domestic chart, having collected a relatively modest $8 million at no. 4 this past weekend. (Total to date: $267.3 million.)

Besides Quinton Aaron, Tim McGraw, and Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side features Jae Head, Lily Collins, Ray McKinnon, Kim Dickens, and Best Actress Oscar winner Kathy Bates (Misery, 1990).


The Blind Side Box Office: Sandra Bullock” endnotes

Unless otherwise noted, “The Blind Side Box Office: Sandra Bullock in Year’s Biggest Sleeper Blockbuster” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).

Comments about The Princess and the Frog, The Blind Side, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.

John Lee Hancock and Sandra Bullock The Blind Side movie images: Ralph Nelson | Warner Bros.

The Blind Side Box Office: Sandra Bullock in Year’s Biggest Sleeper Blockbuster” last updated in October 2022.

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