As we begin the month of August and the dog days of summer, I’ll be traveling back 30, 20, and 10 years ago to seasons past giving you the top ten hits and more of that particular time frame. Today we are going all the way to 1987.
It was a simpler time back then. There were very few sequels and franchises and reboots and a good portion of the highest grossing flicks dealt with law enforcement in action type settings. Only one picture grossed over $100 million dollars. Yes, the times have changed, but what a hoot to look back at what was burning up the box office charts three decades ago. This post will also discuss some other notable flicks outside the top ten and some big ole flops.
Let’s get to it!
10. The Living Daylights
Domestic Gross: $51 million
The 15th James Bond picture kicked off the brief two picture reign of Timothy Dalton, who took over the iconic role after the late Roger Moore’s 12 year long portrayal of 007. It’s $51M gross would just surpass the $50M earnings of Moore’s swan song, 1985’s A View to a Kill. Two summers later, Dalton would star in his swan song Licence to Kill before Pierce Brosnan donned the tuxedo six years later.
Domestic Gross: $53 million
Paul Verhoeven’s futuristic sci-fi action thriller nearly received the dreaded X rating upon its release. It also received critical acclaim and spawned two sequels and a 2014 remake.
8. La Bamba
Domestic Gross: $54 million
This biopic of singer Ritchie Valens starring Lou Diamond Phillips was a major summer sleeper and even earned a Golden Globe nod for Best Picture (Drama). It also featured the Los Lobos cover of the title song that was in the top ten summer songs of 1987.
Domestic Gross: $57 million
A few years before Tom Hanks was earning back to back Best Actor Oscars, he was costarring in silly remakes of 1950s cop dramas. Dragnet managed to perform well and it’s a guilty pleasure, especially Dan Aykroyd’s take on Sgt. Joe Friday (a role made famous by Jack Webb).
Domestic Gross: $59 million
One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finest action pics, Predator also kicked off an impressive three picture directorial run by John McTiernan that was followed up by Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October. This franchise is still going strong today, but nothing beats the hard edged original.
5. Dirty Dancing
Domestic Gross: $63 million
The biggest sleeper hit of the summer vaulted Patrick Swayze into super stardom and won the Oscar for Best Original Song for Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’s “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”.
4. The Witches of Eastwick
Domestic Gross: $63 million
Mad Max maker George Miller went Hollywood with this critically appreciated comedic fantasy with an all-star cast of Jack Nicholson, Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer.
Domestic Gross: $65 million
This was the height of the buddy cop era and it propelled this one starring Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez to big grosses. A less regarded sequel costarring Rosie O’Donnell would follow six years later.
2. The Untouchables
Domestic Gross: $76 million
Brian De Palma’s take on the classic TV series was a big-budget and highly entertaining affair headlined by Kevin Costner, Robert De Niro, Andy Garcia, and Sean Connery (who won a Supporting Actor Oscar for his work).
1. Beverly Hills Cop II
Domestic Gross: $153 million
Eddie Murphy was just about the biggest movie star in the world in summer 1987 and that’s shown here by the enormous gross of the sequel to his 1984 classic, directed by Tony Scott. A much less successful third entry would follow seven summers later after Murphy’s box office potency had waned.
And now – here’s some other notable pictures from the season:
Full Metal Jacket
Domestic Gross: $46 million
Legendary director Stanley Kubrick’s first film in seven years (since The Shining) is now considered a modern classic, especially for its unforgettable first half featuring R. Lee Ermey’s Vietnam drill sergeant.
Domestic Gross: $38 million
This Mel Brooks spoof of Star Wars may not be in Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein territory, but it’s certainly earned quite a cult status through the last 30 years.
Adventures in Babysitting
Domestic Gross: $34 million
The directorial debut of Chris Columbus (who would go on to make Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire and the first two Harry Potter pics), Babysitting has also achieved cult cred in addition to its decent box office showing at the time.
The Lost Boys
Domestic Gross: $32 million
Another flick with a rabid fan base, the teen pic cast Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, and Corey Feldman in a California town overrun by vampires.
And now for a couple of 1987 summer box office bombs:
Jaws IV: The Revenge
Domestic Gross: $20 million
12 summers prior, Steven Spielberg’s original was a landmark motion picture. By the time the fourth entry came around, the series had gotten terrible. It still has a 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes and Michael Caine actually missed picking up his Oscar for Hannah and Her Sisters because he was shooting this turkey.
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Domestic Gross: $15 million
Not a solid summer for four-quels. This served as a bad ending to a series started nine years earlier. There was a moratorium on Supes pic for the next 19 years.
Domestic Gross: $14 million
Considered one of the largest bombs in film history at the time, this comedy with Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman was a punchline for years. Its reputation has grown a bit since.
And that’s my recap folks! I’ll be back recounting summer 1997 very soon…