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.
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 1 – The 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:
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.
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 Park – Bigger, 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.
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.
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…