Will Academy voters feel the need? The need for recognizing the year’s biggest domestic grosser in the Best Picture race at the 95th Academy Awards? It’s the eighth film up for consideration in my Case Of posts.
The Case for Top Gun: Maverick:
This would represent the People’s Choice. Tom Cruise’s summer sequel rode a wave of sizzling buzz to towering business ($718 million stateside) while critics raved (96% on Rotten Tomatoes). It nabbed six nominations including some key ones for a BP victory like Adapted Screenplay and Film Editing.
The Case Against Top Gun: Maverick:
It also missed in some important precursors. Despite a DGA spot, director Joseph Kosinski was omitted from the Oscar five. Maverick was considered a threat to take Cinematography gold (as it did at the Globes), but was snubbed. Mega-blockbusters don’t usually take the grand prize (it’s been almost 20 years since Lord of the Rings: Return of the King rose above its competitors).
Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Original Song, Sound, Visual Effects
The sound of a Maverick win may be likeliest in Sound. The preferential ballot could lend itself to an upset in BP. It has a better shot than the other sequel in contention Avatar: The Way of Water. However, the odds are slightly against it.
My Case Of posts will continue with Triangle of Sadness!
If you didn’t catch my previous write-ups on BP contenders, click here:
As I do annually when the year winds down, it’s time to take a look at the performers who made significant impacts on the silver screen in the previous 12 months. I’ll do so with 6 of them in the coming days.
For 2022, that list has to begin with Tom Cruise. Before May, the biggest opening in the superstar’s near 40 years of headlining pictures was 2005’s War of the Worlds at $64 million. That’s right. Even though he’s consistently been one of Hollywood’s most bankable figures, there were no premieres north of $100 million. In fact, only three of his titles exceeded $200 million domestically: Mission: Impossible II, the aforementioned Worlds, and Mission: Impossible – Fallout.
There was understandable skepticism when Top Gun: Maverick was finally green lit. Would crowds turn out for the sequel to a relic from the mid 80s? It arrived in multiplexes after many COVID delays some three years plus after filming wrapped.
What it did at the box office was astounding and very important in preserving the viability of the theatrical experience. This wasn’t a superhero franchise entry with the dollars already built in. Maverick brought out moviegoers who hadn’t ventured out to the multiplex in a couple of years. Some of them went for repeat viewings.
It nearly doubled Cruise’s previous best with $126 million over the Friday to Sunday of the Memorial holiday weekend and $160 million for the four-day. Then the money kept holding on. It even returned to 1st place over two months after its release for the Labor Day frame. All in all, Maverick soared to $718 million domestically and nearly a billion and a half worldwide. The ripple effect of its success is evident even in humorous ways. Another continuation of an 80s blockbuster coming soon sees Eddie Murphy back in his signature role. The title? Beverly Hills Cop: Axel Foley (!!!).
In the year where he turned 60, Tom Cruise experienced easily the largest hit and cultural phenomenon of his career. Millions of people saw the preview for next summer’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One play in front of it. It might be the most talked about trailer of 2022 that doesn’t involve a demonic doll dancing.
At a time when true movie stars are hard to come by, audiences turned to a reliable one in 2022. It was indeed his year. These posts will continue with another legend who turned 60 and got the role (multiples ones) of a lifetime…
I’ve been at this box office predicting game for quite some time. If it gets stale for even a moment, something will come along to shock you. That happened this weekend. Twice.
First there’s the massive underperformance of Disney/Pixar’s Lightyear, which is barely topping $50 million for second place behind Jurassic World: Dominion. I’ll have more to say about that tomorrow, but it’s not often a tentpole release comes in over $30 million behind your (and many other prognosticators) estimates. It made less than half of the fourth Toy Story tale three years ago.
Today, however, it’s all about Top Gun: Maverick. If you’d told me a month ago that the long gestating Tom Cruise sequel would score the second (you read that correctly) best fourth weekend of all time, I wouldn’t have believed it. That’s second only to the fourth frame of Avatar. Better than any Star Wars episode. Better than any MCU adventure. Better than Titanic.
Maverick, with its soaring reviews and word-of-mouth, has undeniably become a phenomenon. Its $44 million estimated haul this weekend brings its domestic tally to an astonishing $466 million. That’s already $200 million over Cruise’s previous largest stateside hit – 2005’s War of the Worlds. A gross of over $600 million in the US and Canada seems assured in addition to a worldwide total topping $1 billion.
To say this is lightyears ahead of expectations is one heckuva understatement. This is the rare breed of picture that is appealing to all ages and genders and is clearly warranting repeat viewings. I suspect Oscar voters will take notice. Categories like Editing, Sound, and Visual Effects are obviously on the table. So too is Lady Gaga’s theme song “Hold My Hand” which might be an early frontrunner to win. And with these mind boggling earnings – Oscar voters could vault this into Best Picture contention and Tom Cruise could be in the mix for Best Actor. That’s far from guaranteed… yet it was unthinkable before its release.
The word phenomenon doesn’t come around much with box office forecasting. When 2002’s Spider-Man made $114 in its first weekend, that word applied because no pic had done so before. The domination of Titanic when many thought it would be a flop definitely fits the bill. So does James Cameron’s follow-up Avatar (ironically its sequel seems destined to compete with Maverick for some tech Oscars). The MCU juggernaut has a handful of examples.
Top Gun: Maverick is a phenomenon and in its fourth outing, the buzz is towering over everything else in 2022.
Sun drenched SoCal nostalgia permeates every land, air, and beach surface of Top Gun: Maverick and it’s a pleasure to bask in the glow. Many a franchise lately has attempted to tap into our sentimentality and many have failed. 36 years after the original, Maverick elevates what preceded it while making us misty about those very events from the mid 80s. Perhaps most thrilling is watching a movie star firmly in control of what’s made him a headliner for five decades.
Captain Pete Mitchell aka Maverick (Tom Cruise) has refused upward promotion in the Navy while spending the bulk of his working hours skyward as a test pilot. The romance that took his breath away with Kelly McGillis is seemingly long dormant. His friendship with Iceman (Val Kilmer), now a decorated Admiral, saves his tail after a work mishap. Instead of washing out, he’s sent back to San Diego as a TOPGUN teacher. Against the wishes of a Vice Admiral who goes by Cyclone (Jon Hamm), Maverick is tasked with instructing a new generation of pilots.
Their mission (and they’re forced to accept it) is to destroy an unnamed enemy nation’s uranium enrichment plant. It is (ahem) a potentially impossible mission and Maverick’s tutelage is complicated by one of the students. Rooster (Miles Teller) is the son of the late Goose (Anthony Edwards) from the original. You may recall that he perished in the arms of the leading man and therefore eliminated his ability to talk to anyone except for metaphorically.
While the dynamic between the teacher and his pupil is the pic’s emotional through line, there’s subplots aplenty. This includes Maverick’s courtship of Penny (Jennifer Connelly), who checks the boxes of being an ex-flame, single mother, and bar owner where standards from the 1960s can be drunkenly belted out. We also get a truly emotional sequence with Cruise and Kilmer made more touching by the latter’s real world health challenges. And, of course, there’s a whole new crop of pilots. Most memorable, by far, is the cocky Hangman (Glen Powell). You’ll leave the theater convinced Powell is going to become a major headliner himself.
Then there’s the fact that technology has soared by leaps and bounds since the first one. To put it simply – the aerial battles in the third act are awesome and I would suggest an IMAX venue to take it in. As mentioned, many fan service attempts in recent times have been serviceable at best or less. Top Gun: Maverick, with its megawatt star, is more than that. It earns its stripes.
***And a final update for Top Gun: Maverick as my prediction rises again to $113.4 million for the three-day and $138 million for the four-day. That it gives it the #2 all-time Memorial Day for both frames.
***Blogger’s Update (05/25): Significantly up-ticking my estimate once again. Now projecting a three-day of $103.7M (good for second biggest Memorial Day Friday to Sunday) and $124.4M for the four-day (third largest all-time). Sky is increasing the limit…
**Blogger’s Update (05/24): Estimate updated from a three and four-day projection, respectively, of $75.6M and $98.8M to $86.6M and $104.9M. That now gives Maverick the #7 largest Memorial Day weekend three-day and #6 four-day
It could be a record breaking memorable weekend for Tom Cruise as Top Gun: Maverick finally lands in theaters. The long gestating sequel arrives 36 years after the original made Cruise a superstar. The wait was only supposed to be 33-34 years, but production delays and COVID postponements altered the plan.
Joseph Kosinki, who previously directed the lead in 2013’s Oblivion, directs. Costars include Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, Jon Hamm, Glen Powell, Ed Harris, Monica Barbaro, and Val Kilmer reprising his role as Iceman. Critics have certainly indicated this is worth the wait. Budgeted at a reported $150 million, reviews are impressive with a 97% Rotten Tomatoes score. There’s even Oscar buzz as it will surely be a contender in Sound and Song (with Lady Gaga crooning “Hold My Hand”).
Paramount is hopeful that Maverick will take the breath and money away from moviegoers over the Memorial Day frame. The loud buzz generated by critics should make this soar even higher than previously anticipated.
In doing so, we could see Tom cruise to a personal best opening. Somewhat surprisingly, his all-time largest opening is War of the Worlds at $64 million for the traditional Friday to Sunday period. Mission: Impossible – Fallout (the last flick to feature Cruise four years ago) is close behind at $61 million.
Maverick will, of course, have a four-day tally. That’s familiar territory for Cruise as the first three Mission: Impossible tales premiered over Memorial Day with the second one doing $70 million from Friday to Monday. However, it opened on the Wednesday before to bring its gross to $91 million.
First things first. I do believe Tom’s latest sequel will achieve his highest three day take ever. I also suspect there will be some projections for Maverick that will be too high. A four-day take of over $100 million is absolutely doable (and my prediction could rise in the coming days), but I’m skeptical. That’s uncharted territory for Mr. Cruise. A Friday to Sunday haul in the mid 70s seems likelier. If that happens, it should achieve mid 90s for the whole frame. That would give it the ninth best Memorial 3 day start – in between Solo: A Star Wars Story ($84 million) and The Lost World: Jurassic Park ($72 million). It would rise a spot to 8th for the four-day between the same two features at $103 million and $90 million, respectively. And that would be a memorable start indeed.
Top Gun: Maverick opening weekend prediction: $113.4 million (Friday to Sunday); $138 million (Friday to Monday)
Top Gun: Maverick was supposed to arrive a mere 34 years after its iconic predecessor. Due to numerous COVID delays, it now hits theaters on May 27th and some 36 years behind the original. By nearly all accounts, Tom Cruise and the filmmakers have landed the plane.
Ahead of its Cannes premiere, the review embargo has lapsed for Maverick and the Rotten Tomatoes score is a sizzling 96%. Nearly all critics are calling it an improvement over the ’86 blockbuster and it could be in line to give Cruise his largest opening and overall hit of his career (my box office prediction will arrive next week).
Three and a half decades back, part one caught the attention of Academy voters in four categories. The Berlin theme “Take My Breath Away” won Best Song and Gun nabbed nods for Film Editing, Sound, and Sound Effects Editing. All those races are in play again in one form or another.
Best Sound has been condensed to one category and it’s a near lock that the sequel will play there. Film Editing, Cinematography, and Visual Effects are also possibilities. Then there’s the sound of Lady Gaga’s voice. The superstar contributed the track “Hold My Hand” and it could be hard to beat. Ms. Gaga is poised for her third Song nomination behind 2015’s “Til It Happens to You” from The Hunting Ground and “Shallow” from A Star Is Born (which won). She also shares Score credit with Hans Zimmer (who just won a trophy for Dune) and Harold Faltermeyer (best known for his Beverly Hills Cop tune “Axel F”).
Let’s assume Sound and Song are gimmes. With the aforementioned others, we could be looking at a handful of mentions. Will the Academy go beyond the tech derbies? It looks like Maverick will be a gigantic earner and crowdpleaser. I have no doubt there will be a push from Paramount for Best Picture recognition and Cruise in Best Actor. If so, it would be his fourth acting nod. There were two in lead for 1989’s Born on the Fourth of July and 1996’s Jerry Maguire and a supporting mention for 1999’s Magnolia. He’s never made a victorious trip to the podium.
I’m skeptical about it playing in the major leagues, but wins in Sound and Song are doable. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…
Despite acclaimed performances in The Doors, Tombstone, and others, Val Kilmer has never been on the radar screen of awards voters. He’s also appeared in blockbusters like Top Gun, Batman Forever, and Heat, but his career faded in the late 90s after reports of him being difficult to work with became more prevalent. This week at the Cannes Film Festival, a documentary which Kilmer mostly shot himself could kick off an unexpected career resurgence (that and this fall’s Top Gun: Maverick). Val debuts in theaters on July 23 before its Amazon Prime streaming premiere on August 6.
Directed by Leo Scott and Ting Poo, this is a look at the performer’s life onscreen and off and it’s primarily derived from Kilmer himself being a prolific amateur videographer. Early reviews indicate it’s a unique and often moving portrait of a complicated figure. It stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Will the documentary branch of the Academy take notice? It’s certainly possible. After all, Hollywood in general digs features about their own. Val, from initial buzz, sounds like a fascinating one. And it could finally put its subject in the Oscar chatter. My Oscar Watch posts will continue…
It is officially summertime 2021 and that brings my annual seasonal three-part series where I take a look back at the top ten pics, flops, and other notable selections from 30, 20, and 10 years ago. That means I’ll begin with 1991 at a time where Arnold Schwarzenegger said hasta la vista to all competitors.
Let’s count down from #10 to numero Ah-nuld along with other entries worthy of discussion (both good and bad).
10. Doc Hollywood
Domestic Gross: $54 million
Michael J. Fox had a midsize hit with this fish out of water comedy about an uppity surgeon stuck in the rural south. It marks the star’s last solid performer that he headlined.
9. Boyz n the Hood
Domestic Gross: $57 million
John Singleton had one of cinema’s most memorable directorial debuts with this coming-of-age drama set in South Central. He would become the youngest filmmaker ever to be nominated at the Oscars and the critically hailed pic kickstarted the careers of Cuba Gooding Jr. and Ice Cube.
8. One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Domestic Gross: $60 million
Disney re-released their 1961 classic three decades after its release and picked up a cool $60 million for it. Later in 1991, the studio would begin another renaissance with Beauty and the Beast becoming the first animated film to nab a Best Picture nomination. Five years later, Glenn Close would headline the live-action version and another reboot, Cruella with Emma Stone, is currently in the top five.
7. What About Bob?
Domestic Gross: $63 million
Bill Murray had one of his signature roles as the multi-phobic patient tormenting shrink Richard Dreyfuss on his vacation. Apparently this comedy was a bit dramatic behind the scenes with the two leads having an actual antagonistic relationship.
6. Hot Shots!
Domestic Gross: $69 million
Spoofs were a hot commodity in the early 90s following the success of 1988’s The Naked Gun. Jim Abrahams, one of that film’s writers, created this sendup of Top Gun and many others that starred Charlie Sheen. A sequel would follow two years later.
Domestic Gross: $77 million
Ron Howard directed this firefighting drama that heated up the box office with Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, and a creepy Donald Sutherland as a pyromaniac. There was even a sequel released in 2019 with Baldwin and Sutherland that went direct to streaming and that I frankly forgot existed.
4. The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear
Domestic Gross: $86 million
The spoofing love continued as Leslie Nielsen reprised his role as doofus detective Frank Drebin in this sequel to the 1988 classic. It couldn’t hold up the original, but it was better than part 3 which followed in 1994. And, needless to say, this was a simpler time for costar O.J. Simpson.
3. City Slickers
Domestic Gross: $124 million
As New Yorkers learning life lessons on a cattle drive, Billy Crystal, Daniel Stern, and Bruno Kirby starred in the comedy smash of the summer and costar Jack Palance even ended up with a Best Supporting Actor victory. A less regarded follow-up would come in 1994.
2. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Domestic Gross: $165 million
While his accent was spotty at best, Kevin Costner parlayed his Oscar success from the previous year’s Dances with Wolves into this blockbuster about the robbing from the rich and giving to the poor hero. The highlight was Alan Rickman’s sublime work as the Sheriff of Nottingham while critics mostly turned up their noses.
1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Domestic Gross: $204 million
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s android went from being the bad guy in the 1984 original to the good robot in James Cameron’s sequel that gave us eye popping and revolutionary special effects and a dynamite Linda Hamilton returning as a buffed up Sarah Connor. There’s been four more entries in the franchise and none have matched the potency of this one.
Now let’s turn the focus to some other notable releases:
Thelma & Louise
Domestic Gross: $45 million
Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis both scored lead actress Academy nods for Ridley Scott’s now iconic tale of feminism and revenge with an unforgettable ending. This also marked audiences falling in love with a then unknown actor by the name of Brad Pitt.
Domestic Gross: $43 million
Patrick Swayze starred in the previous summer’s high earner with Ghost. This surfing action pic from director Kathryn Bigelow paired the actor with Keanu Reeves and has amassed a deserved cult following. An unnecessary remake wiped out in 2015.
Domestic Gross: $38 million
Kenneth Branagh’s sophomore effort after the acclaim of his Shakespearian Henry V was this Hitchcock homage costarring his then wife Emma Thompson, Andy Garcia, and Robin Williams. As tributes to the Master of Suspense go, this is one of the best.
Domestic Gross: $38 million
Sally Field, Kevin Kline, Robert Downey, Jr., and Whoopi Goldberg are part of the ensemble in this comedy set in the world of the afternoon melodramas that populate the airwaves. Not a big hit at the time, its reception has since grown.
Domestic Gross: $32 million
Spike Lee’s tale of an interracial couple played by Wesley Snipes and Annabella Sciorra received critical kudos. The two most memorable performances come from Samuel L. Jackson as a crack addict and Halle Berry (in her feature debut) as his girlfriend.
Madonna: Truth or Dare
Domestic Gross: $15 million
As she often is, Madonna was ahead of the cultural curve with this documentary set during her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour. This was reality programming before it exploded.
Domestic Gross: $6 million
The Coen Brothers pitch black comedy was the darling of the Cannes Film Festival, winning Picture, Director, and Actor for John Turturro. It would land three Academy nominations including Michael Lerner in Supporting Actor.
Now it’s time for the pictures that either didn’t land with audiences or critics (or both):
Domestic Gross: $46 million
Disney was hoping for a new franchise with this comic book based property. Yet the period adventure underwhelmed at the box office. This was a different era for the genre before the MCU changed everything. Director Joe Johnston, coincidentally, would go on to make Captain America: The First Avenger 20 years later.
Domestic Gross: $33 million
This seems hard to believe now, but Premiere magazine predicted this romance would be the largest grossing feature of the summer. Not so much. However, Julia Roberts was just coming off her smash breakthrough Pretty Woman. This didn’t land with audiences in the same way.
Only the Lonely
Domestic Gross: $25 million
Chris Columbus was basking in the box office bonanza that was Home Alone. This rom com with John Candy and Ally Sheedy that followed six months later didn’t cause many filmgoers to leave their homes.
Domestic Gross: $20 million
1990 was gave us lots of mobster fare such as GoodFellas, The Godfather Part III, and Miller’s Crossing. Crowds and critics didn’t take to the Christian Slater and Patrick Dempsey versions of Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, respectively.
Domestic Gross: $17 million
Bruce Willis’s vanity project is considered one of the gargantuan flops in history. Grossing only about a fourth of its $65 million budget, it was awarded the Golden Raspberry for Worst Picture of the year.
Domestic Gross: $11 million
Based on a series of successful novels, audiences didn’t take to Kathleen Turner in the title role for this detective action comedy. It made less than half its budget.
Domestic Gross: $5 million
Also set in the world of soap operas, this marked another dud for John Candy in the same season.
Domestic Gross: $2 million
Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder are a classic combo with well-regarded comedies like Silver Streak and Stir Crazy. Even See No Evil, Hear No Evil in 1989, despite critical scorn, performed well. That’s not the case with their last collaboration (which reviewers also drubbed).
And that concludes my look back at summer 1991. Next up is the sweltering season of 2001!
1993 was an exceptionally strong year in the Supporting Actor category with five worthy nominees in the mix: Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Ralph Fiennes for Schindler’s List, Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, John Malkovich for In the Line of Fire, and Pete Postlethwaite for In the Name of the Father. Jones would ultimately walk away with the prize.
However, there are three other performances that come to mind in that particular year and they will be showcased in my next Shoulda Been Contender posts. It starts with Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone. Nearly 30 years later, you may not remember that there were two competing Wyatt Earp pics happening. Lawrence Kasdan’s Wyatt Earp with Kevin Costner and Dennis Quaid was the 1994 summer release that was a potential Oscar contender and blockbuster. It turned out to be neither. Tombstone, released in December 1993, wasn’t so eagerly anticipated.
Yet audiences liked what they saw when it debuted. It was a rock solid action western with Kurt Russell in the commanding lead as Earp. It become a high earner and remains an enduring favorite with moviegoers. As good as the picture is, Kilmer’s work was great with endless quotable lines and character quirks. Having already made a name for himself in Top Gun, Willow, and his uncanny impression of Jim Morrison in The Doors, Kilmer’s Holliday may still stand as his most memorable role. And that deserves mention in a year full of notable supporting turns.
As mentioned, I’m not finished with this category in 1993. Stay tuned…
In what has become tradition on this here blog, I use the summertime months to reflect on the cinematic seasons that came 30, 20, and 10 years prior. So while we wait for features to hit theaters in the summer of 2020 (something that is looking less and less certain), let’s take a gander at the hits, misses, and other significant product from the past.
The format is as follows: a rundown of the top ten hits as well as other noteworthy titles and some of the flops. We begin with 1990… a summer where we all got ghosted.
Domestic Gross: $61 million
Fresh off her star making role that spring in Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts teamed with then boyfriend Kiefer Sutherland in this psychological thriller from the late director Joel Schumacher. A far less successful 2017 remake would follow.
9. Bird on a Wire
Domestic Gross: $70 million
Despite mostly poor reviews, the drawing power of Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn compelled this action comedy to a #1 debut and solid returns. Mr. Gibson wouldn’t fare as well later that summer when Air America with Robert Downey Jr. grossed less than half of Bird‘s earnings.
8. Another 48 Hrs.
Domestic Gross: $80 million
The re-teaming of Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte from their 1982 hit might have earned more than the predecessor, but $80 million was considered a bit of a letdown compared to expectations. The quality left a bit to be desired as well.
7. Days of Thunder
Domestic Gross: $82 million
Another high profile reunification is this racing pic with Tom Cruise and his Top Gun maker Tony Scott back together. While it wasn’t as successful as that blockbuster, it did just fine and it cast a mostly unknown actress named Nicole Kidman alongside her future (and eventually former) husband.
6. Presumed Innocent
Domestic Gross: $86 million
Harrison Ford has had plenty of summer hits, but this adaptation of Scott Turow’s novel was a considerably more adult project that earned mostly rave reviews. The courtroom drama was a sizable earner considering its meager $20 million budget.
5. Back to the Future Part III
Domestic Gross: $87 million
The Western themed threequel arrived just six months after Part II. While it received better critical reaction, its gross of $87 million couldn’t match the $118 million of what preceded it.
4. Dick Tracy
Domestic Gross: $103 million
Warren Beatty’s long in development version of the 1930s comic strip was a visual sight to behold. However, critical reaction was mixed. It managed to just outdo its reported $100 million budget stateside. Tracy provided a showcase for Beatty’s then flame Madonna and earned Al Pacino a Best Supporting Actor nod.
3. Die Hard 2
Domestic Gross: $117 million
The goodwill brought forth by the 1988 original allowed this decent sequel to outgross its predecessor and permit Bruce Willis to return in his signature role three more times. This would be the last Die Hard pic with the Christmas Eve theme as it scorched the summer charts.
2. Total Recall
Domestic Gross: $119 million
One year before he would rule the summer of 1991, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a massive hit with this sci-fi rendering of the Philip K. Dick short story. Recall also provided the first juicy role for Sharon Stone, who would become a sensation two years later in Basic Instinct.
Domestic Gross: $217 million
At the start of the new decade, no one would have pegged Ghost to rule the summer frame. Made for $22 million, the supernatural romance ended up making over half a billion worldwide. A pottery themed love scene between stars Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore would become iconic, Whoopi Goldberg would win Best Supporting Actress for her psychic role, and it was nominated for Best Picture.
And now for some noteworthy titles from the season:
Domestic Gross: $53 million
Just outside the top 10 at 11, John Ritter headlined this tale of a rambunctious kid who just needs a family. Budgeted at a measly $10 million, it was a surprise performer that spawned two sequels.
Domestic Gross: $53 million
Doubling its budget, this black comedy about deadly black spiders received mostly praise from critics and had a nice showcase role for John Goodman as an exterminator.
Domestic Gross: $33 million
Sam Raimi would eventually direct Spider-Man over a decade later and break box office records. Yet this original story (made for only $16 million) was a cult hit that introduced a lot of filmgoers to Liam Neeson. Two direct to video sequels would follow (minus Raimi behind the camera and Neeson in front of it).
Mo’ Better Blues
Domestic Gross: $16 million
This jazz infused dramedy was Spike Lee’s follow-up to his groundbreaking Do the Right Thing one year prior. Blues received solid reviews, but is best remembered as the director’s first collaboration with Denzel Washington.
And now for some pictures that didn’t match expectations either financially or critically or both (including a host of underwhelming sequels):
Domestic Gross: $45 million
Irvin Kerschner made one of the greatest part two’s ever with The Empire Strikes Back. He wasn’t so lucky here. It made slightly less than its 1987 predecessor and reviews weren’t nearly as positive.
Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Domestic Gross: $41 million
It’s become a cult favorite since its release, but The New Batch grossed over $100 million less than the 1984 smash success.
The Exorcist III
Domestic Gross: $26 million
Following 17 years after the phenomenon that was the original, part 3 simply didn’t land with audiences or critics. This is another example of a sequel that would pick up more fans in subsequent years.
Domestic Gross: $24 million
Sidney Poitier directed this supernatural comedy starring Bill Cosby. At the time, he had a smash TV comedy named after him. Yet audiences didn’t follow him to the multiplex for this critically drubbed effort.
Domestic Gross: $21 million
Marlon Brando seemed to have a fun time parodying his iconic Godfather role here alongside Matthew Broderick. It wasn’t a hit, but its reputation has grown since.
The Adventures of Ford Fairlane
Domestic Gross: $21 million
Andrew Dice Clay was one of the most popular and controversial stand up comics of this era, but his anticipated breakout to the silver screen landed with a thud.
Wild at Heart
Domestic Gross: $14 million
David Lynch’s follow-up to his heralded Blue Velvet starred Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern. It garnered decidedly more mixed reaction from critics.
The Two Jakes
Domestic Gross: $10 million
Jack Nicholson went behind the camera and reprised his acclaimed role as Jake Gittes from 1974’s Chinatown. This was a year following the star’s turn as The Joker in Batman, which dominated that summer. Audiences (and many critics) simply turned a blind eye to this long gestating sequel.
And that’ll do it for now folks! I’ll have the summer of 2000 up shortly.