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.


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.


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.

Box Office Predictions: October 13-15

After a weekend where no new releases performed particularly well, we could be in for a similar situation this weekend. Though one newbie should manage to just clear $20 million. We have low-budget horror pic Happy Death Day, Jackie Chan action thriller The Foreigner, and Chadwick Boseman led biopic Marshall debuting. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

The October Friday the 13th should bode rather well for Happy Death Day. With the underwhelming performance of Blade Runner 2049 (more on that below), I have Death slated for a first place showing in the low 20s and it could climb a bit higher.

Blade should slip to the runner-up position with The Foreigner in third. I have holdovers It and The Mountain Between Us rounding out the top five.

Marshall is only premiering on approximately 800 screens and my $4 million estimate for it puts it well outside the top 5. There is another apparent wide debut with Professor Marston & the Wonder Women. It stars Luke Evans and Rebecca Hall in the true life story of the man who created Wonder Woman. While it’s timed to capitalize on the summer’s biggest blockbuster, I’ll say it only manages maybe $2 million (there’s no theater count so I may revise that figure).

And with that, my top five projections for the weekend:

1. Happy Death Day

Predicted Gross: $20.6 million

2. Blade Runner 2049

Predicted Gross: $15.4 million (representing a drop of 53%)

3. The Foreigner

Predicted Gross: $8.8 million

4. It

Predicted Gross: $6 million (representing a drop of 40%)

5. The Mountain Between Us

Predicted Gross: $5.7 million (representing a drop of 46%)

Box Office Results (October 68)

As mentioned, pricey long time in the making sequel Blade Runner 2049 stalled in its opening weekend with $32.7 million, well below all expectations including my own $52.1M forecast. Despite glowing reviews, audiences simply didn’t come out for it as expected.

The Kate Winslet/Idris Elba disaster romance The Mountain Between Us debuted in second with a so-so $10.5 million, just above my $9.2M prediction.

It was third with $9.9 million (I said $9.3M) as it crossed the triple century mark at $305 million overall.

My Little Pony: The Movie was fourth out of the gate with just $8.8 million, under my $10.9M estimate.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle rounded out the top five with $8.6 million (I predicted $8M) for $80 million total.

In weekend #2, Tom Cruise’s American Made fell to sixth with $8.4 million compared to my $8.9M projection. It’s earned $30 million in ten days.

And that does it for now! Until next time…

Box Office Predictions: October 6-8

Blogger’s Note (10/04/17) – I’ve changed predictions for nearly every film here… UPDATED PROJECTIONS REFLECTED BELOW

After a tight battle for #1 this past weekend between three pictures, there’s little no doubt as to what opens on top this coming weekend with Blade Runner 2049 hitting screens. We also have the Kate Winslet/Idris Elba disaster pic/romance The Mountain Between Us and animated My Little Pony: The Movie debuting. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on each of them here:

As mentioned, the glowing reviews for Blade Runner 2049 and the feeling of it being a bit of an event picture has me projecting a mid 40s opening. That should give it lots of space at #1 ahead of all competitors.

After that, it gets murky. I have Mountain slated at #2, but its middling reviews could be a hindrance to it reaching double digits (which I barely have it reaching).

When it comes to My Little Pony, my $8.2 million estimate is basically a middle ground figure as I could easily see it slightly over or under performing. That number puts it right in the mix of where It, American Made, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle might be. Bottom line: numbers 2-6 on the chart this weekend could be awfully close.

And with that, my top 6 projections for the weekend ahead:

1. Blade Runner 2049

Predicted Gross: $52.1 million

2. My Little Pony: The Movie

Predicted Gross: $10.9 million

3. It

Predicted Gross: $9.3 million (representing a drop of 45%)

4. The Mountain Between Us

Predicted Gross: $9.2 million

5. American Made

Predicted Gross: $8.9 million (representing a drop of 47%)

6. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Predicted Gross: $8 million (representing a drop of 53%)

Box Office Results (September 29-October 1)

It is really the sole reason why this September’s box office was a record one and so it seems fitting that the horror flick nearly returned to the #1 position as the month ended. The pic earned $16.9 million (ahead of my $15.1M estimate) to bring its total to $290 million.

Yet it was Kingsman: The Golden Circle that barely remained on top as it also made $16.9 million (I said $17.6M) for a two-week tally of $66 million.

Tom Cruise’s American Made debuted in third with a just OK $16.7 million compared to my $15.5M prediction. Its best hope is for smallish declines in future frames.

The Lego Ninjago Movie dropped to fourth with $11.6 million (I said $12.6M) to bring its disappointing total to $35 million.

Flatliners did just that in its premiere in fifth, earning a sleepy $6.5 million, on pace with my $6.3M forecast.

In its wider expansion, Battle of the Sexes underwhelmed in sixth with only $3.4 million, below my $5.2M estimate.

And that does it for now! Until next time…



Box Office Predictions: September 29-October 1

A record breaking September (thanks to a certain clown) draws to a close in a busy weekend with the two highest profile debuts being Tom Cruise’s American Made and sci-fi horror remake/sequel Flatliners. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on both of them here:

They aren’t the only newbies this weekend. There’s the thriller ‘Til Death Do Us Part with Taye Diggs and Christian themed drama A Question of Faith. As of this writing, there are screen counts on neither. As I see it, both could potentially over perform, but I’ll say $2.8 million for Death and $1.2 million for Faith. Those numbers could change, but right now it puts both well outside the top 5.

There could be a real battle for #1. If American Made manages to debut in the high teens to low 20s, it should capture that spot. However, my mid teens estimated debut puts it in the runner-up spot behind the second weekend of Kingsman: The Golden Circle. I expect Circle to experience a larger drop than the 49% one that its predecessor had. It should fall one spot to third.

With a considerably lower than anticipated opening, The Lego Ninjago Movie is likely to be fourth, though it may have a smallish decline due to lack of family options.

This brings us to the five spot. I am not expecting much out of Flatliners and the Emma Stone/Steve Carell Oscar hopeful Battle of the Sexes is expanding to over 1000 screens. I believe that could create a close race between them, though I’ll give Flatliners the edge.

And with that, I’ll do a top 6 predictions this weekend:

1. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Predicted Gross: $17.4 million (representing a drop of 55%)

2. American Made

Predicted Gross: $15.5 million

3. It

Predicted Gross: $15.1 million (representing a drop of 49%)

4. The Lego Ninjago Movie

Predicted Gross: $12.6 million (representing a drop of 37%)

5. Flatliners

Predicted Gross: $6.3 million

6. Battle of the Sexes

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

Box Office Results (September 22-24)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle took the gold this weekend with $39 million, a touch below my $43.6M projection. The sequel to the acclaimed 2015 sleeper hit didn’t receive the critical appreciation of the first, but it did manage to open slightly above its predecessor’s $36 million.

It dropped to second after two weeks on top with $29.7 million (I was right there with my $29.8M forecast) for a staggering tally of $266 million overall.

While Warner Bros has been celebrating the considerable accomplishments of Pennywise and The Losers, there was little to boast about with The Lego Ninjago Movie. The animated feature opened to just $20.4 million in third – way below my $38.6M estimate. The studio better hope its non spin-off sequel to 2014’s The Lego Movie gets the franchise back on track.

American Assassin was fourth in its sophomore frame at $6.2 million (I said $6.9M) for $26 million total.

mother! rounded out the top five with $3.2 million for a meager $13M total and I incorrectly had it outside the top five.

That’s because I gave far too much credit to the horror pic Friend Request. I pegged it at $5.7 million, but it managed just $2 million for seventh place. One wonders if It is simply sucking the oxygen out of any genre competition (it’s part of the reason I have Flatliners rather low).

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Flatliners Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (09/24) – My estimate for Flatliners continues to drop. I’m now putting it at just $6.3 million.

It isn’t the only September remake of a 1990 horror pic as Flatliners debuts in theaters next weekend. The film finds 5 medical students dangerously experimenting with near-death experiences with a cast that includes Ellen Page, Diego Luna, and Nina Dobrev. This is actually more of a sequel than remake to 1990’s version that was directed by Joel Schumacher and starred Julia Roberts, fresh off breakout Pretty Woman. Kiefer Sutherland, who costarred in the first, returns.

The original Flatliners probably benefited from Julia’s mega watt star power at the time. I don’t believe there’s an enormous amount of reverance for it. Sony Pictures best hope is that horror audiences who gobbled up It might be ready for something else.

That could be a tall order. I’m predicting Flatliners doesn’t hit double digits out of the gate.

Flatliners opening weekend prediction: $6.3 million

For my American Made prediction, click here: