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…

Burnt Box Office Prediction

After his Oscar nominated smash hit American Sniper early this year, Bradley Cooper may experience his second box office disappointment with Burnt, out next weekend. The comedic drama features Cooper as a formerly drug addicted chef trying to rebuild his life. Costars include Sienna Miller, Uma Thurman, Daniel Bruhl, Alicia Vikander and Emma Thompson.

Reviews have not been strong as Burnt currently sits at just 31% on Rotten Tomatoes. It appears to be following a similar path to this summer’s Aloha with Cooper, which debuted to only $9.6 million. I wouldn’t be surprised if this suffers a similarly unimpressive fate and fails to reach double digits out of the gate.

Burnt opening weekend prediction: $8.9 million

For my Our Brand Is Crisis prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/10/22/our-brand-is-crisis-box-office-prediction/

For my Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse prediction, click here:

https://toddmthatcher.com/2015/10/22/scouts-guide-to-the-zombie-apocalypse-box-office-prediction/

Oscar History: 2004

In 1976, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver was seen as a strong possibility to win Best Picture at the Oscars until a boxing movie unexpectedly captured audiences attention and took the prize. That would, of course, be Rocky. Fast forward to 2004 where Scorsese’s Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator seemed to be the odds-on favorite for Best Pic until, yet again, a pugilistic tale surprised moviegoers late in the awards season.

Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby wasn’t even talked about much as an awards contender during 2004’s calendar year. It was released very late in the year, but it turned out to be great timing. 

Baby would win the top award over The Aviator, as well as Marc Forster’s Finding Neverland, Taylor Hackford’s Ray, and Alexander Payne’s Sideways.

As for other contenders not recognized, the Academy would ignore Quentin Tarantino’s fantastic Kill Bill and its Volume II after snubbing the first installment the year prior. It’s also worth noting that the greatest Harry Potter flick in the franchise (in my view) Prisoner of Azkaban could have been honored too. And there’s Michel Gondry’s highly original critical favorite Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. And a favorite of audiences – Mel Gibson’s mega-blockbuster Passion of the Christ. Any of one of these pics should have at least replaced Finding Neverland, which was decent but doesn’t belong in the category.

The Baby boom would extend to Eastwood, who won Best Director exactly a dozen years after winning the same award for Unforgiven. This prevented Scorsese from winning his first Oscar. Other nominees included Hackford, Payne, and Mike Leigh for Vera Drake. 

Once again – Gondry, Tarantino, and Gibson are names worth mentioning that didn’t get in the mix.

Jamie Foxx would take Best Actor for his dead-on portrayal of the legendary singer Ray Charles in Ray, winning out over Leonardo DiCaprio in The Aviator, Don Cheadle in Hotel Rwanda, Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby, and Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland.

One major snub was Paul Giamatti for his fine work in Sideways. The Academy yet again snubbed Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine.

Hilary Swank won her second Best Actress award in five years for Baby (in 1999, she was victorious in Boys Don’t Cry). Other nominees: Annette Bening in Being Julia, Catalina Sandino Moreno in Maria Full of Grace, Imelda Staunton in Vera Drake, and Kate Winslet for Eternal Sunshine.

Once again, it was Uma Thurman left out for her work in the Kill Bill franchise.

Morgan Freeman would win his first Oscar in the Supporting Actor race for Million Dollar Baby over Alan Alda in The Aviator, Thomas Haden Church for Sideways, Jamie Foxx in Collateral, and Clive Owen in Closer. 

Not to keep bringing up Kill Bill, but the late David Carradine should have been nominated.

The Aviator would finally receive some Academy recognition with Cate Blanchett winning Supporting Actress with her portrayal as Katherine Hepburn. Other nominees: Laura Linney in Kinsey, Virginia Madsen for Sideways, Sophie Okonedo in Hotel Rwanda, and Natalie Portman for Closer. 

After all my mentions for Kill Bill and Eternal Sunshine receiving snubs, there’s one other 2004 pic that demonstrates the Academy’s constant ability to ignore comedies. So I give you the following snubs –

Best Actor – Will Ferrell, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Best Supporting Actor – Steve Carell, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Best Supporting Actor – Paul Rudd, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Best Supporting Actor – David Koechner, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Best Scene Involving a Cannonball – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Best Scene With a Dog Being Punted – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Best Rendition of “Afternoon Delight” In a Movie: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

I’ll be back with Oscar History: 2005 soon, my friends!