Summer 1999: The Top 10 Hits and More

My recap of the summer seasons from 30, 20, and 10 years ago continues with 1999. It was a banner year for film in general with many acclaimed features hitting theaters at the turn of the century.

If you missed my previous post recounting 1989, you can find it here:

As with other look backs, I’ll give the top 10 highest earners along with other notable pics and some flops. Interestingly, the list begins at #10 with probably the most high profile misfire:

10. Wild Wild West

Domestic Gross: $113 million

The July 4th holiday weekend had literally become reserved space for Will Smith. Independence Day in 1996 and Men in Black the following year both came out in that frame and ended up as their summer’s biggest blockbusters. This update of a 1960s TV series cast the Fresh Prince with Kevin Kline and reunited him with MIB director Barry Sonnenfeld. Critics and audiences weren’t impressed.

9. Notting Hill

Domestic Gross: $116 million

Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant were a rom com match in heaven with this well reviewed pic from the writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral. Our lead actress isn’t finished yet…

8. The Blair Witch Project

Domestic Gross: $140 million

Truly a phenomenon upon release, this handheld camera indie supernatural horror tale was made for a reported $60,000. Many audience members thought it was a real documentary and it scared up nearly $250 million worldwide and spawned two lesser regarded follow-ups.

7. Runaway Bride

Domestic Gross: $152 million

I told you we weren’t done with Julia Roberts. This rom com reunited her with her Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall and costar Richard Gere. It might not have captured the acclaim of that flick, but it made plenty of cash.

6. The Mummy

Domestic Gross: $155 million

Loosely updating the 1932 classic, The Mummy managed to turn Brendan Fraser into a temporary action star. Two sequels followed and a spin-off (The Scorpion King) that turned Dwayne Johnson into an action hero.

5. Big Daddy

Domestic Gross: $163 million

20 summers ago marked the height of Adam Sandler’s box office potency. Big Daddy remains his biggest live action grosser of all time.

4. Tarzan

Domestic Gross: $171 million

Disney was still knocking traditional animated hits out summer after summer. Tarzan managed to nab Phil Collins an Oscar for a song contribution.

3. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Domestic Gross: $206 million

The original Powers came out two summers prior. While it performed decently in theaters, it became a massive hit with its home video release. Due to that, this sequel made more in its opening weekend than part 1 achieved in its entire theatrical run. A third edition arrived in 2002.

2. The Sixth Sense

Domestic Gross: $293 million

An unexpected smash, this is the movie that introduced the world to M. Night Shyamalan and the line “I see dead people”. Bruce Willis didn’t get an Oscar nod, but the picture itself did. So too did Shyamalan’s direction, screenplay, and the supporting performances of Haley Joel Osment and Toni Collette.

1. Star Wars: Episode 1The Phantom Menace

Domestic Gross: $431 million

Its reputation certainly hasn’t grown through the years, but George Lucas’s return to the cherished franchise after 16 years easily ruled the summer. We’re still haunted by Jar Jar two decades later.

And now more some other notable titles from the ‘99 season:

American Pie

Domestic Gross: $102 million

The raunchy teen comedy was a surprise smash that introduced us to a new group of young actors and spawned three theatrical sequels and four direct to DVD sequels.

The Haunting

Domestic Gross: $91 million

Jan de Bont followed up mega hits Speed and Twister with this critically unappreciated remake of The Haunting of Hill House. It didn’t reach the heights of those blockbusters, but came close to the century mark domestically.

Deep Blue Sea

Domestic Gross: $73 million

Renny Harlin’s tale involving sharks that could potentially cure Alzheimer’s (yes it’s absurd), Sea is best known for a killer death scene involving Samuel L. Jackson.

The Thomas Crown Affair

Domestic Gross: $69 million

Arriving smack dab in the middle of his Bond run, this remake of Steve McQueen’s heist film was a solid midsize performer.


Domestic Gross: $66 million

The box office grosses were decent, but Bowfinger gave us a satisfying pairing of two comedic legends in Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin.

Eyes Wide Shut

Domestic Gross: $55 million

The swan song of Stanley Kubrick (who died shortly before release), this dreamlike sexual drama with then married Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman polarized audiences and critics.

South ParkBigger, Longer and Uncut

Domestic Gross: $52 million

The landmark Comedy Central show from Trey Parker and Matt Stone got the big screen treatment and translated well to the multiplex, even nabbing an Oscar nod for Best Original Song (“Blame Canada”).

The Iron Giant

Domestic Gross: $23 million

A commercial failure at the time, this animated pic marked the debut of Brad Bird who went onto helm Pixar classics. Its reputation has grown significantly in time.

Now… let’s recount some flops:

Mickey Blue Eyes

Domestic Gross: $33 million

Hugh Grant had a $100 million plus earner with Notting Hill, but this mob themed comedy was not a hit.

Mystery Men

Domestic Gross: $29 million

Ben Stiller had the previous summer’s largest comedy with There’s Something About Mary. This failed superhero spoof didn’t even make half its budget back stateside.

The Astronaut’s Wife

Domestic Gross: $10 million

This Johnny Depp sci fi thriller is not a title discussed often in his filmography or Charlize Theron’s. There’s a reason.

Dudley DoRight

Domestic Gross: $9 million

The Mummy provided Brendan Fraser with a franchise. This cartoon remake couldn’t hit double digits.

And that wraps my recap! Look for 2009 on the blog shortly…

Top Ten Summer Music Hits of 1985: A Look Back

And now for something completely new on this here blog!

For the last three summers, I’ve pontificated on the Top Ten Summer Hits of seasons that came 20 and 10 years before. I just posted my retrospective of 1995 films yesterday on the site and I’ll have my post regarding 2005 up on Friday or over the weekend.

This got me thinking. About this midpoint of summer, many of us wonder what the true song of the summer is. Good thing Billboard keeps track of such items of curiosity and it allows us to delve back 30 years and then 20 years and then 10 years.

Therefore, today’s post will travel back in time to 1985 to give you the Top Ten Summer Music Hits of 1985, along with my quick takes on them and the all important question: is it on my iTunes?

I’ll follow up tomorrow with the top summer jams and ballads of 1995 and on Thursday with 2005. For now, it’s time for some 80s nostalgia and I’ll rate each track (my personal opinion of course) on a scale of 1 (awful) to 10 (summer hit masterpiece).

10. “Never Surrender” by Corey Hart

The first single of Mr. Hart’s second album is one of those cheesy 80s ballads with an even more gloriously cheesy video to accompany it. I had actually forgotten about this song and it frankly didn’t leave much of an impression. Truth be told, when I think of Corey, I think of his first hit single the year prior… in which he wore his sunglasses. At night.

My Rating: 4

Is It On My iTunes? No

9. “Heaven” by Bryan Adams

Our second Canadian solo singer on this list after Mr. Hart is Mr. Bryan Adams and one of his signature tunes. The raspy voiced crooner fares much better here than Mr. Hart. The track would be covered with success sixteen years later by DJ Sammy in a sped up dance hall version.

My Rating: 7 and a half

Is It On My iTunes? No

8. “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion” by John Parr

OK, now we’re talking. The title track for Joel Schumacher’s Brat Pack hit is a guilty pleasure if there ever was one and I’m not ashamed to admit I quite dig it. Mr. Parr is English by the way, so our streak of American artists so far is 0-3.

My Rating: 9

Is It On My iTunes? Yes

7. “Raspeberry Beret” by Prince and the Revolution

America in the form of Minneapolis and its funky little genius finally appears with the first single off Prince’s Around the World in a Day album, which followed his massive Purple Rain juggernaut. This tune sounds more 60s influenced than anything that had come before on the Purple One’s resume and it’s an infectious groove that still holds up today, like pretty much everything he’s done. It misses a 10 only in comparison to some of his other masterworks.

My Rating: 9 and a half

Is It On My iTunes? Yes

**NO VIDEO as Prince doesn’t allow his material on YouTube

6. “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” by Sting

This jazzy and reggae tinged jam marks the first solo release of Sting’s career after the breakup of The Police. It’s a rock solid beginning to one heckuva output over the next three decades.

My Rating: 8

Is It On My iTunes? Yes

5. “Sussudio” by Phil Collins

The first single of his No Jacket Required album, I’m still not sure what this song is about but there are some catchy horns. This has never been one of my favorite tracks from an artist I like tremendously, but it’s still fairly decent.

My Rating: 6 and a half

Is It On My iTunes: Yes (mostly because I own his greatest hits)

4. “A View to a Kill” by Duran Duran

The English boy band gave us this theme song to the final Roger Moore 007 picture and it’s a beauty, unlike the movie. One of the all time best Bond themes and my favorite track on this list.

My Rating: 10

Is It On My iTunes? Yes

3. “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News

Another movie connection here as Huey Lewis (and his news friends) had their first #1 hit with this track from the Back to the Future soundtrack. It’s a supremely pleasant power ballad that’ll leave you smiling, as so much of Huey’s music did.

My Rating: 8

Is It On My iTunes? No

2. “Everytime You Go Away” by Paul Young

If this sounds like a Hall and Oates song, it’s because Daryl Hall wrote it and gave it to Mr. Young, who turned it into a #1 single. It would be used two years later in the closing scene of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It’s solid, though I don’t love it.

My Rating: 7

Is It On My iTunes? No

1. “Shout” by Tears for Fears

The band’s signature tune ranks highest on the list of 1985 summer anthems. And it is indeed truly an anthem – a big sounding song that gave the group its largest hit. And it’s easy to sing along to in the chorus when you let it all out…

My Rating: 9

Is It On My iTunes: No

And there you have it my friends! I’ll have 1995 up tomorrow…