Summer 1998: The Top 10 Hits and More

Continuing with my recaps of the movie summers from 30, 20, and 10 years ago – we arrive at 1998. If you missed my post recounting the 1988 season, you can find it right here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2018/07/11/summer-1988-the-top-10-hits-and-more/

1998 was a rather astonishingly sequel lite summer with only one making up the top ten moneymakers. And while 2018 will be known for its Avengers phenomenon, it was a much different story with Avengers two decades ago.

Behold my synopsis of the top 10 hits, along with other notables and flops:

10. The Mask of Zorro

Domestic Gross: $94 million

He may be playing Pablo Picasso on TV now, but Antonio Banderas had a significant hit (alongside Catherine Zeta-Jones and Anthony Hopkins) in this tale of the famed swashbuckler. A less successful sequel would follow in 2005.

9. Mulan

Domestic Gross: $120 million

Disney’s 36th animated feature (with a voice assist from Eddie Murphy) didn’t reach the heights of titles like Aladdin or The Lion King, but the Mouse Factory has already commissioned a live-action version slated for 2020.

8. The Truman Show

Domestic Gross: $125 million

Jim Carrey’s first major big screen foray outside of zany comedy, Peter Weir’s reality show pic garnered critical acclaim for the film itself and the star’s performance.

7. Lethal Weapon 4

Domestic Gross: $130 million

The final teaming of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover (with Chris Rock and Jet Li joining the mix) made slightly less than part 3 and was generally considered rather mediocre, especially considering the heights that the franchise started from.

6. Godzilla

Domestic Gross: $136 million

Coming off the massive success of Independence Day, Roland Emmerich’s tale of the giant green monster was expected to possibly be summer’s biggest hit. It came in well below expectations with critics and audiences. A better regarded version arrived in 2014.

5. Deep Impact

Domestic Gross: $140 million

Our first asteroid disaster flick on the list came from Mimi Leder with a cast including Tea Leoni, Elijah Wood, and Robert Duvall. Moviegoers loved their asteroids 20 years ago.

4. Dr. Dolittle

Domestic Gross: $144 million

Eddie Murphy was still in popular family guy mode with this remake of the Rex Harrison animal tale. A sequel would follow in 2001.

3. There’s Something About Mary

Domestic Gross: $176 million

The Farrelly Brothers had the comedic smash of the summer in this effort that made Ben Stiller a huge star and had a showcase role for Cameron Diaz’s talents.

2. Armageddon

Domestic Gross: $201 million

Our second asteroid pic (this one from Michael Bay) comes with Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and Liv Tyler… and an Aerosmith ballad that played all season long.

1. Saving Private Ryan

Domestic Gross: $216 million

Steven Spielberg’s acclaimed World War II drama with Tom Hanks has one of the most intense first scenes in cinematic history. It was considered the Oscar front-runner until it lost in an upset to Shakespeare in Love. 

And now for some other notable films:

The X-Files

Domestic Gross: $83 million

Bringing David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s alien themed FOX TV show to the big screen turned out to be a profitable venture. An ignored sequel would follow 10 years later.

Blade

Domestic Gross: $70 million

The vampire-centric Wesley Snipes flick spawned two sequels and major cult status.

Out of Sight

Domestic Gross: $37 million

Its box office performance was middling, but Steven Soderbergh’s romantic crime pic showed George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez at their best. Critics dug it.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Domestic Gross: $10 million

Not a success at the time, but Terry Gilliam’s wild ride featuring Johnny Depp as Hunter S. Thompson created a serious following in subsequent years.

And now for some flops:

Six Days, Seven Nights

Domestic Gross: $74 million

Harrison Ford was flying high off the success of Air Force One one summer earlier, but audiences and reviewers weren’t as kind to this action comedy with Anne Heche.

Snake Eyes

Domestic Gross: $55 million

Likewise, Nicolas Cage experienced a trilogy of mega hits during the two previous summers with The Rock, Con Air, and Face/Off. This one from Brian De Palma didn’t impress nearly as much.

The Avengers

Domestic Gross: $23 million

Not THOSE Avengers, ladies and gents. This big screen adaptation of the 1960s TV series with Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, and Sean Connery landed with a thud in August. No sequels here.

54

Domestic Gross: $16 million

Mike Myers was coming off a little something called Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery when this pic about the famed NYC nightclub opened. Critics weren’t kind and crowds didn’t turn up.

BASEketball

Domestic Gross: $7 million

Trey Parker and Matt Stone rarely create something that isn’t massively successful – like “South Park” and The Book of Mormon. This sports comedy is the rare exception, though it has developed a following since.

And there you have it – the summer of 1998! Look for 2008 shortly…

Advertisements

The Lego Batman Movie Box Office Prediction

Three February’s ago, Warner Bros hit the animation jackpot with The Lego Movie. A proper sequel is on its way come 2019, but in the meantime we have a spin-off based on one of the most popular characters as The Lego Batman Movie hits theaters next weekend.

The 3D computer generated pic returns Will Arnett as the Caped Crusader in this action comedy from director Chris McKay, who was animation co-director on Lego. Zach Galifianakis voices The Joker, Michael Cera is Robin, Rosario Dawson is Batgirl, and Ralph Fiennes lends support as butler Alfred.

As the original is only three years old and the Lego line has a dedicated base, Lego fans should come out in droves for this. That said, I don’t quite expect this to match the $69 million achieved in the first weekend by its predecessor (it eventually made $257 million domestically). A high 50s to potentially high 60s gross seems more feasible, meaning it should debut at #1 ahead of Christian and Anastasia in Fifty Shades Darker.

The Lego Batman Movie opening weekend prediction: $65.8 million

For my Fifty Shades Darker prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/01/fifty-shades-darker-box-office-prediction/

For my John Wick: Chapter 2 prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2017/02/02/john-wick-chapter-2-box-office-prediction/

Oscar Watch: Sing and Kubo and the Two Strings

Much attention has been paid on this blog to the Best Actress race at the 2016 Oscars and deservedly so as it figures to be the most competitive it’s been in some time. Yet there’s another category that’ll be fun to watch. This year has been a banner one for animated features. In some years, it’s a bit of a challenge to think of five worthy of inclusion. In 2016, it’ll be fascinating to see what’s left out.

Two contenders have an odd thing in common: Matthew McConaughey. The 2013 Best Actor winner for Dallas Buyers Club has his voice featured in both Kubo and the Two Strings and Sing, which has screened in Toronto and will be out statewide in time for Christmas. Animated McConaughey has, in fact, had a much stronger year than the Lincoln Lawyer in human form. His summer Civil War drama Free State of Jones was a critical and commercial flop. Late last month, he starred in Gus Van Sant’s drama The Sea of Trees. It also received scorn from reviewers and has grossed a truly embarrassing $20,000 in its limited release. Perhaps this December’s Gold will turn things around for him.

Back to his cartoon version. Kubo opened last month to decent box office numbers (it’s made $40 million domestically thus far). Critics went wild for it though and its RT score stands at 97%. Though there’s other animated material that will gross far more than it, its inclusion for a nomination looks solid.

One of those movies that’ll probably far outgross it is Sing. The 3D computer animated musical comes from the company behind the Despicable Me franchise. In addition to McConaughey, it feature the voices of Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Seth MacFarlane, and John C. Reilly. Early reaction from Toronto is positive and suggests it’ll be a major holiday hit.

Yet its chances at an Animated Feature nod appear murkier due to the aforementioned heavy competition. Let’s briefly run the rest of the contenders down. There’s Disney’s spring juggernaut Zootopia. It’s in. There’s Disney’s Moana, their November offering from the team behind The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Most prognosticators, including myself, are reserving a slot for it. The foreign title The Red Turtle opened to raves at Cannes. Japanese entry Miss Hokusai looks to be a factor. And there’s mega-hits like Finding Dory and The Secret Life of Pets to think about. Finally, how about Sausage Party?

All in all, this is one of the most exciting races to follow in 2016 and who knew the stoner guy from Dazed and Confused would be right in the thick of it?

 

 

Hail, Caesar! Movie Review

Joel and Ethan Coen seem to be struggling with ambivalence to the film industry in their latest, Hail, Caesar! It takes place in the early 1950s when the studios had their own struggles with the impending explosion of television threatening their existence. Capitol Pictures production head Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) spends his days and nights putting out fires with damaged actors, directors, and other assorted players. He has an offer on the table for a nice everyday job with Lockheed and his decision whether to stay or go is treated (quite literally) as one of Biblical proportions.

The film’s title is one shared with a Roman epic meant to be Capitol’s blockbuster of the year. It stars Baird Whitlock and he’s played by George Clooney in a welcome continuation of the actor playing extraordinarily dumb guys in the Coen universe. These directors either realized years ago that Clooney excels in these roles or have secret contempt for him. It’s probably the former. Baird is kidnapped by a group of gentlemen who are either underpaid and frustrated screenwriters, Communist sympathizers, or both. His return to the set means a handsome ransom paid by Capitol.

That is just one of many issues that Mannix deals with during his workday. They include the synchronized swimming Esther Williams type starlet (Scarlett Johansson) whose squeaky clean image is polar opposite from the real story. And the Western crooning leading man (Alden Ehrenreich) clumsily trying his hand at serious drama.

Much of this simply appears to be an excuse for the brothers from Minnesota to play around with genres popular in the era. Channing Tatum pops up as a tap dancing sailor making an energetic and silly musical. The works of the aforementioned movie stars lets the Coens give us scenes from Westerns, Bible epics, and aquamusicals. Fans of the period will almost certainly appreciate it all more than those unfamiliar.

Certain performances stand out. Some of the more recognizable faces (Johansson, Jonah Hill as a studio problem fixer) are given little material. Lesser known Ehrenreich is quite a find and he shares a very funny sequence with an exasperated director  played by Ralph Fiennes. Tilda Swinton is on point in a dual role as haughty twin gossip columnists.

The overall theme is of Mannix’s wondering if his crazy job is inconsequential. You get the feeling from time to time if it’s the Coens thinking that themselves. We saw it in 2008’s superior Burn After Reading, a picture that concluded with a conversation about its own unnecessary existence. That also seemed to serve as a statement about the spy thrillers it was sending up. Here the message is a little murkier and quite a bit less humorous. Joel and Ethan Coen have certainly earned the right to do whatever they want and Hail, Caesar! still has plenty of moments that remind us why they’re such cinematic treasures. The ambivalence that I mentioned earlier that permeates their exercise here? We feel it a bit as well, however.

**1/2 (out of four)

Kubo and the Two Strings Box Office Prediction

The animation division of Focus Features/Laika hopes for another solid performer as Kubo and the Two Strings plays theaters next weekend. The 3D stop-motion fantasy set in ancient Japan features a number of recognizable actors voicing the action, including Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara, and OG Sulu George Takei.

Travis Knight directs and he’s served as lead animator for all of Laika’s previous efforts. Those would be: 2009’s Coraline, which opened with $16.8 million; 2012’s ParaNorman, which debuted at $14 million; and 2014’s The Boxtrolls, which premiered with $17.2 million.

Those are some pretty consistent numbers and I believe Kubo should fall right in line with them. In fact, I believe Two Strings has a good shot at just outpacing its two competitors opening against it: the pricey Ben-Hur remake and Jonah Hill action/comedy War Dogs. My prediction puts this right at where Coraline got things started seven years ago and Boxtrolls left things two years back.

Kubo and the Two Strings opening weekend prediction: $17 million

For my Ben-Hur prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/08/10/ben-hur-box-office-prediction/

For my War Dogs prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/08/10/war-dogs-box-office-prediction/

Hail, Caesar! Box Office Prediction

The Coen Brothers are back behind the camera with Hail, Caesar!, out next weekend and they’re bringing a star studded cast with them. The Hollywood set comedy features Josh Brolin, Coens regular George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Channing Tatum. Joel and Ethan have spent the last couple of years having their scripts (Unbroken, Bridge of Spies) produced rather than directing and it’s their first effort since 2013’s Inside Llewyn Davis. This marks their first feature to debut wide since megahit True Grit over five years ago.

Hail, Caesar! should be helped by its familiar face cast, but I don’t think that means it’ll open too much bigger than Coen comedies of the past dozen years. Both 2003’s Intolerable Cruelty (also starring Clooney) and 2004’s The Ladykillers started out with around $12 million. 2008’s Burn After Reading got off to a $19 million debut and it may have helped that it came hot on the heels of the directors’ Oscar winning No Country for Old Men. 

I’ll predict a gross in the mid teens looks most feasible here.

Hail, Caesar! opening weekend prediction: $14.3 million

For my Pride and Prejudice and Zombies prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/01/28/pride-and-prejudice-and-zombies-box-office-prediction/

For my The Choice prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2016/01/28/the-choice-box-office-prediction/

Spectre Box Office Prediction

Three years after the triumphant box office performance of the 23rd 007 entry Skyfall, Daniel Craig is back for the fourth time as James Bond in Spectre, out next Friday. The big question is whether or not it will manage to top the franchise high debut of its predecessor. It could come close or surpass it, as I see it.

Let’s take a little trip down memory lane with Craig’s 007 filmography. His first, 2006’s Casino Royale, started with $40.8 million on its way to a $167M eventual domestic gross. The second, 2008’s Quantum of Solace, earned $67.5 million out of the gate and just edged its predecessor’s haul with $168M. Then – 2012’s Skyfall was a game changer. It made $88.3 million for its astonishing opening weekend and ended with $304M. Worldwide, it took in a cool $1.1 billion, easily setting the high bar for the now 53 year old series.

The studio clearly has employed the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule as Skyfall director Sam Mendes has returned. Christoph Waltz joins the fray as the main villain with Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris returning as M and Moneypenny, respectively. Spectre has already set records in the United Kingdom, where it was already released this week. Reviews have been mostly strong and it stands at 79% on Rotten Tomatoes, though it’s worth noting that critics generally have stated it’s not quite at the level of what preceded it.

This 24th official Bond pic should debut with Skyfall like numbers. On the high end, it could possibly gather over $100M in its first weekend. It could also earn $75-$80M and that would certainly be on the lower end of expectations. My feeling is that it’ll be within about $5M of what the last one made on the same November weekend in 2012 and that Spectre will just manage to outdo it for the largest 007 premiere in U.S. history.

Spectre opening weekend prediction: $91.3 million

For my prediction on The Peanuts Movie, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/10/29/the-peanuts-movie-box-office-prediction/