Summer 1990: The Top 10 Hits and More

In what has become tradition on this here blog, I use the summertime months to reflect on the cinematic seasons that came 30, 20, and 10 years prior. So while we wait for features to hit theaters in the summer of 2020 (something that is looking less and less certain), let’s take a gander at the hits, misses, and other significant product from the past.

The format is as follows: a rundown of the top ten hits as well as other noteworthy titles and some of the flops. We begin with 1990… a summer where we all got ghosted.

10. Flatliners

Domestic Gross: $61 million

Fresh off her star making role that spring in Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts teamed with then boyfriend Kiefer Sutherland in this psychological thriller from the late director Joel Schumacher. A far less successful 2017 remake would follow.

9. Bird on a Wire

Domestic Gross: $70 million

Despite mostly poor reviews, the drawing power of Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn compelled this action comedy to a #1 debut and solid returns. Mr. Gibson wouldn’t fare as well later that summer when Air America with Robert Downey Jr. grossed less than half of Bird‘s earnings.

8. Another 48 Hrs.

Domestic Gross: $80 million

The re-teaming of Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte from their 1982 hit might have earned more than the predecessor, but $80 million was considered a bit of a letdown compared to expectations. The quality left a bit to be desired as well.

7. Days of Thunder

Domestic Gross: $82 million

Another high profile reunification is this racing pic with Tom Cruise and his Top Gun maker Tony Scott back together. While it wasn’t as successful as that blockbuster, it did just fine and it cast a mostly unknown actress named Nicole Kidman alongside her future (and eventually former) husband.

6. Presumed Innocent

Domestic Gross: $86 million

Harrison Ford has had plenty of summer hits, but this adaptation of Scott Turow’s novel was a considerably more adult project that earned mostly rave reviews. The courtroom drama was a sizable earner considering its meager $20 million budget.

5. Back to the Future Part III

Domestic Gross: $87 million

The Western themed threequel arrived just six months after Part II. While it received better critical reaction, its gross of $87 million couldn’t match the $118 million of what preceded it.

4. Dick Tracy

Domestic Gross: $103 million

Warren Beatty’s long in development version of the 1930s comic strip was a visual sight to behold. However, critical reaction was mixed. It managed to just outdo its reported $100 million budget stateside. Tracy provided a showcase for Beatty’s then flame Madonna and earned Al Pacino a Best Supporting Actor nod.

3. Die Hard 2

Domestic Gross: $117 million

The goodwill brought forth by the 1988 original allowed this decent sequel to outgross its predecessor and permit Bruce Willis to return in his signature role three more times. This would be the last Die Hard pic with the Christmas Eve theme as it scorched the summer charts.

2. Total Recall

Domestic Gross: $119 million

One year before he would rule the summer of 1991, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a massive hit with this sci-fi rendering of the Philip K. Dick short story. Recall also provided the first juicy role for Sharon Stone, who would become a sensation two years later in Basic Instinct. 

1. Ghost

Domestic Gross: $217 million

At the start of the new decade, no one would have pegged Ghost to rule the summer frame. Made for $22 million, the supernatural romance ended up making over half a billion worldwide. A pottery themed love scene between stars Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore would become iconic, Whoopi Goldberg would win Best Supporting Actress for her psychic role, and it was nominated for Best Picture.

And now for some noteworthy titles from the season:

Problem Child

Domestic Gross: $53 million

Just outside the top 10 at 11, John Ritter headlined this tale of a rambunctious kid who just needs a family. Budgeted at a measly $10 million, it was a surprise performer that spawned two sequels.

Arachnophobia

Domestic Gross: $53 million

Doubling its budget, this black comedy about deadly black spiders received mostly praise from critics and had a nice showcase role for John Goodman as an exterminator.

Darkman

Domestic Gross: $33 million

Sam Raimi would eventually direct Spider-Man over a decade later and break box office records. Yet this original story (made for only $16 million) was a cult hit that introduced a lot of filmgoers to Liam Neeson. Two direct to video sequels would follow (minus Raimi behind the camera and Neeson in front of it).

Mo’ Better Blues

Domestic Gross: $16 million

This jazz infused dramedy was Spike Lee’s follow-up to his groundbreaking Do the Right Thing one year prior. Blues received solid reviews, but is best remembered as the director’s first collaboration with Denzel Washington.

And now for some pictures that didn’t match expectations either financially or critically or both (including a host of underwhelming sequels):

Robocop 2

Domestic Gross: $45 million

Irvin Kerschner made one of the greatest part two’s ever with The Empire Strikes Back. He wasn’t so lucky here. It made slightly less than its 1987 predecessor and reviews weren’t nearly as positive.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Domestic Gross: $41 million

It’s become a cult favorite since its release, but The New Batch grossed over $100 million less than the 1984 smash success.

The Exorcist III

Domestic Gross: $26 million

Following 17 years after the phenomenon that was the original, part 3 simply didn’t land with audiences or critics. This is another example of a sequel that would pick up more fans in subsequent years.

Ghost Dad

Domestic Gross: $24 million

Sidney Poitier directed this supernatural comedy starring Bill Cosby. At the time, he had a smash TV comedy named after him. Yet audiences didn’t follow him to the multiplex for this critically drubbed effort.

The Freshman

Domestic Gross: $21 million

Marlon Brando seemed to have a fun time parodying his iconic Godfather role here alongside Matthew Broderick. It wasn’t a hit, but its reputation has grown since.

The Adventures of Ford Fairlane

Domestic Gross: $21 million

Andrew Dice Clay was one of the most popular and controversial stand up comics of this era, but his anticipated breakout to the silver screen landed with a thud.

Wild at Heart

Domestic Gross: $14 million

David Lynch’s follow-up to his heralded Blue Velvet starred Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern. It garnered decidedly more mixed reaction from critics.

The Two Jakes

Domestic Gross: $10 million

Jack Nicholson went behind the camera and reprised his acclaimed role as Jake Gittes from 1974’s Chinatown. This was a year following the star’s turn as The Joker in Batman, which dominated that summer. Audiences (and many critics) simply turned a blind eye to this long gestating sequel.

And that’ll do it for now folks! I’ll have the summer of 2000 up shortly.

Going in Style Box Office Prediction

Call it Grumpy Old Thieves as Going in Style debuts at the box office next weekend. The pic is actually a remake of a 1979 caper comedy with George Burns and Art Carney about some old men cheated out of their pensions who exact the revenge. Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin are the headliners with Zach Braff directing. Costars include Joey King, Ann-Margret, Christopher Lloyd, Kenan Thompson, and Matt Dillon. Theodore Melfi, who recently directed Hidden Figures, is the screenwriter.

Style could work reasonably well as a pleasant diversion for older moviegoers. The box office has been dominated by family fare as of late and comedies have been in rather short supply (CHiPs didn’t exactly set the multiplex on fire).

There’s a possibility that this could put up similar numbers to Last Vegas, which premiered to $16 million. That’s on the higher end of expectations. I believe a more likely scenario is $10-$13 million with the hope from Warner Bros that word of mouth is solid and it does well in subsequent weekends.

Going in Style opening weekend prediction: $11.5 million

For my Smurfs: The Lost Village prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/03/29/smurfs-the-lost-village-box-office-prediction/

For my The Case for Christ prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/04/03/the-case-for-christ-box-office-prediction/

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For Box Office Prediction

Nearly ten years after its predecessor performed solidly at the box office, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For makes it theatrical debut Friday. Original directors Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller are back behind the camera, based on Miller’s work from his acclaimed graphic novel. Several stars of the 2005 pic return – including Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, Powers Boothe and Jaime King. Newcomers to the sequel include Joseph Gordon Levitt, Josh Brolin, Lady Gaga, Dennis Haysbert, Christopher Lloyd, Ray Liotta, and Jeremy Piven.

It was the spring of 2005 when Sin City did great business of the gate domestically with $29 million. However, it would suffer large declines in subsequent weekends and its final gross was a respectable $74 million. The big question is whether too much time has passed for audiences to really be clamoring for a sequel?

I have my doubts. The original was mostly well-received and there will be some who are excited to see it (myself included). However, the near decade long wait makes it unlikely that Dame will approach the performance of the first. I would be surprised if it exceeds $25 million in its debut and believe a high teens to low 20s debut is more likely.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For opening weekend prediction: $20.8 million

For my If I Stay prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/08/17/if-i-stay-box-office-prediction/

For my When the Game Stands Tall prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2014/08/17/when-the-game-stands-tall-box-office-prediction/