Put on your nostalgia goggles (or maybe the sunglasses that make you forget stuff if Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones flash a light at you) because I’m recounting the summer of 1997 on the blog today!
This has become a seasonal tradition around here and I gave you the top 10 summer hits of 1987 and more earlier this week. If you missed that post, you can find it here:
This time around, we’re going back 20 years when Nicolas Cage accounted for 25% of the top 8 moneymakers and Batman crashed and burned.
We’ll begin with the top ten and then get to some other notable pics and flops:
Domestic Gross: $99 million
Disney’s ‘toon couldn’t reach the century mark and that was considered a disappointment after early and mid 90s smashes like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King.
Domestic Gross: $100 million
Robert Zemeckis’s follow-up to Forrest Gump (which ruled summer 1994) was a well-regarded science fiction drama with Jodie Foster and an emerging Matthew McConaughey.
8. Con Air
Domestic Gross: $101 million
This action thriller from the Bruckheimer factory is our first to feature Mr. Nicolas Cage (who was coming off a recent Oscar win), along with an all-star cast including John Cusack, John Malkovich, Steve Buscemi, and Ving Rhames.
7. George of the Jungle
Domestic Gross: $105 million
Disney probably didn’t anticipate this remake of the cartoon starring Brendan Fraser would manage to out perform Hercules, but that it did.
6. Batman and Robin
Domestic Gross: $107 million
This may have placed sixth for the summer, but Batman and Robin came in well below its three predecessors and director Joel Schumacher and new Caped Crusader George Clooney have been apologizing about it for the last 20 years. We’re still trying to block out those Arnold/Mr. Freeze bad puns.
Domestic Gross: $112 million
Mr. Cage teamed up for Mr. John Travolta for John Woo’s entertainingly over-the-top sci-fi and action mash-up.
4. My Best Friend’s Wedding
Domestic Gross: $127 million
Julia Roberts made a return to box office dominance in this rom com which featured stolen scenes from costar Rupert Everett.
3. Air Force One
Domestic Gross: $172 million
“Get off my plane!” became one of the season’s catchphrases with Harrison Ford as the butt kicking POTUS battling Russian terrorist Gary Oldman in the skies.
2. The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Domestic Gross: $229 million
Steven Spielberg’s eagerly anticipated follow-up to 1993’s Jurassic Park kicked off with the biggest opening weekend of all time (at that time). However, in the end, it couldn’t manage to top the gross of its predecessor. If you’d polled probably any box office analyst at the beginning of the year, they likely would have said it’d be #1 for the summer. Yet that honor ended up belonging to…
1. Men in Black
Domestic Gross: $250 million
A franchise was born and Will Smith made it two summers in a row with the top grossing picture (the previous year being Independence Day) with Barry Sonnenfeld’s megahit sci-fi action comedy.
And now for some other notable pics:
The Fifth Element
Domestic Gross: $63 million
Audiences and critics didn’t quite know what to make of Luc Besson’s visual feast featuring Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, and Chris Tucker. Sound familiar? Same thing is happening 20 years later with Besson’s Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.
Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
Domestic Gross: $53 million
The Mike Myers 007 spoof performed well, but it wasn’t until home video that Powers turned into a genuine phenomenon spawning countless catchphrases. Its sequel two summers later would earn more in its opening weekend that part 1 did in its domestic total.
The Full Monty
Domestic Gross: $45 million
This British import about unconventional male strippers was the summer’s true sleeper and went on to earn a host of Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Monty would earn over $250 million worldwide compared to its tiny $3.5 million budget.
Domestic Gross: $44 million
After appearing in a string of high-octane action flicks, Sylvester Stallone changed it up with this crime drama featuring an impressive supporting cast that included Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, and Harvey Keitel.
And now for some of the season’s large belly flops:
Speed 2: Cruise Control
Domestic Gross: $48 million
Keanu Reeves didn’t want to touch it, but Sandra Bullock came back for this ridiculed sequel where Jason Patric was the new lead. Considered by many to be one of the worst follow-ups of all time.
Out to Sea
Domestic Gross: $29 million
Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau created comedic gold with The Fortune Cookie and The Odd Couple and reunited years later to box office fortune with the Grumpy Old Men movies. This one? Not so much.
Domestic Gross: $28 million
Ivan Reitman directing Robin Williams and Billy Crystal in a high-profile comedy? Sounds like a good recipe, but the product was mediocre at best and audiences didn’t turn out.
Domestic Gross: $14 million
Two summers earlier, Alicia Silverstone had broken out with Clueless. The summer of 1997 was a breakdown. In addition to appearing as Batgirl in the already discussed Batman and Robin, this action comedy with Benicio del Toro bombed big time.
Domestic Gross: $1.7 million
People may have wanted to watch Shaquille O’Neal on the basketball court, but they had zero interest in watching him as the title superhero in this disaster.
And that does it for now, folks, but I’ll be back soon recounting 2007!