Summer 1989: The Top 10 Hits and More

In what has become tradition on this little blog of mine, the summer season brings us a lot of nostalgia on the silver screen. In the present, that means a slew of sequels and remakes and reboots coming on a near weekly basis. For these purposes, it means taking a look back on the movie summers of 30, 20, and 10 years ago.

As has been written in previous years, I’m listing the top ten hits as well as other notable pics and some flops. One thing is for sure about 1989. It will forever be known as the summer of the Batman and that blockbuster influenced what has become the predominant genre of the 21st century.

A recap of 1999 and 2009 will follow soon, but we start with what audiences were watching three decades ago.

10. Uncle Buck

Domestic Gross: $66 million

John Candy had one of his most notable headlining roles in this John Hughes family friendly comedy that also introduced the world to Macaulay Culkin. No sequel followed, but a short-lived TV series did.

9. Turner & Hooch

Domestic Gross: $71 million

Shortly before Tom Hanks started collecting Oscars and doing primarily dramatic work, he was still known for comedy in the late 80s. This one teamed him with a dog in a buddy comedy that followed the similarly themed with K9 with Jim Belushi from three months earlier. This one made a bit more cash.

8. When Harry Met Sally

Domestic Gross: $92 million

Rob Reiner’s romantic comedy (scripted by Nora Ephron) is considered one of the genre’s landmarks. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan headlined with a diner scene that has become quite iconic.

7. Dead Poets Society

Domestic Gross: $95 million

Robin Williams seized the day and an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of an unorthodox English teacher in Peter Weir’s film, which also nabbed a nod for Best Picture.

6. Parenthood

Domestic Gross: $100 million

Ron Howard’s dramedy sported an ensemble cast with Steve Martin and a crowd pleasing vibe. This is a rare pic that spawned two TV shows. The one from 1990 flopped while the 2010 version ran six seasons. Parenthood marks appearance #1 in the top ten for Rick Moranis.

5. Ghostbusters II

Domestic Gross: $112 million

The eagerly awaited sequel to the 1984 phenomenon was a disappointment critically and commercially when considering the original’s $229 million haul. That said, it gives us appearance #2 for Rick Moranis. A direct sequel will follow in 2020.

4. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids

Domestic Gross: $130 million

And we reach the trifecta for Rick Moranis as Disney had an unexpected smash hit here. It stood as the studio’s largest grossing live-action feature for five years. Two less successful sequels followed.

3. Lethal Weapon 2

Domestic Gross: $147 million

Of the four action comedy pairings of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, part 2 stands as the franchise’s top earner. This one threw Joe Pesci into the mix with sequels that followed in 1992 and 1998.

2. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Domestic Gross: $197 million

While Harrison Ford’s third appearance as his iconic character didn’t match the grosses of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, it did earn more than 1984 predecessor Temple of Doom. Pairing Indy with his dad played by Sean Connery, the character wouldn’t make it to the screen again until Steven Spielberg and Ford teamed up again 19 years later.

1. Batman

Domestic Gross: $251 million

As mentioned, 1989 was dominated by Tim Burton’s take on the Caped Crusader. While the casting of Michael Keaton in the title role was controversial upon announcement, it turned out quite well (as did Jack Nicholson’s turn as The Joker and a funky Prince soundtrack). Three sequels and multiple reboots followed.

And now for some notable pictures outside of the top ten:

The Abyss

Domestic Gross: $54 million

James Cameron was riding a high after The Terminator and Aliens when he made this sci-fi aquatic adventure. Known just as much for its difficult production as its Oscar winning visuals, it had a mixed reaction that has grown more positive through the years.

Weekend at Bernie’s

Domestic Gross: $30 million

Turns out corpses are hilarious in this low budget comedy that turned into enough of a hit that a sequel followed four summers later.

Road House

Domestic Gross: $30 million

It may not have had critics on its side or been a huge success originally, but Patrick Swayze’s turn as a midwestern bouncer became a serious cult hit subsequently.

Do the Right Thing

Domestic Gross: $27 million

A cultural milestone, Do the Right Thing served as the major breakout for Spike Lee and was named by numerous critics as the greatest film of 1989.

sex, lies, and videotape

Domestic Gross: $24 million

Winning the Cannes Film Festival, Steven Soderbergh’s provocative debut helped usher in a wave of independent films that followed in the 90s.

It wasn’t all success stories in the summer of 1989 and here’s some that failed to meet expectations:

Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Domestic Gross: $52 million

Captain Kirk himself directed this installment after Leonard Nimoy made its two well received predecessors. This one was met with ambivalence and stands at the second lowest earner of this particular Trek franchise.

The Karate Kid Part III

Domestic Gross: $38 million

In 1984, the original made $90 million and the 1986 sequel made $115 million. Three summers later, moviegoers had tired of Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita in their signature roles. Yet TV watchers are currently tuned to a series reboot with Macchio back as Daniel.

Licence to Kill

Domestic Gross: $34 million

Timothy Dalton’s second turn as 007 was a stateside flop and is the lowest grossing Bond flick when adjusted for inflation. Its star would never return in the role and the six year gap that followed when Pierce Brosnan reinvigorated the series with Goldeneye stands as the lengthiest gap in its near 60 years of existence.

Lock Up

Domestic Gross: $22 million

Sylvester Stallone had plenty of hits during the decade, but this one casting him as a tortured convict wasn’t one of them.

Casualties of War

Domestic Gross: $18 million

Brian de Palma was coming off a massive hit with The Untouchables, but this Vietnam War drama with Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn didn’t find an audience.

Pink Cadillac

Domestic Gross: $12 million

Three summers later, Clint Eastwood entered Oscar territory with Unforgiven. This action comedy with Bernadette Peters is one of his forgotten efforts and stalled with critics and crowds.

I hope you enjoyed this look back on the 1989 summer period and I’ll have 1999 up soon!

Dracula and Uncle Buck Make a Movie Together

Confused by the blog post title?

I understand. The name comes from a rather ingenious movie game idea that came to my attention via my Uncle Steve over the weekend and I’ve been rather preoccupied with it ever since. If you’re a true movie buff, it’s quite a bit of fun and it’s something good to quiz your fellow movie buff friends on.

The concept is simple. Take the character names (real or fictional) of actors who’ve appeared in a film together and make your subject guess which picture they all appear in together. Still confused? This should clear it up:

Batman, Al Capone, Lois Lane, Chris Kyle, Katniss Everdeen, and Jeffrey Dahmer.

I’ll give you a moment… (DON’T READ ON IF YOU’RE TRYING TO GUESS)

That would be American Hustle, whose cast included Christian Bale (Batman in The Dark Knight trilogy), Robert De Niro (Capone in The Untouchables), Amy Adams (Lois Lane in Man of Steel), Bradley Cooper (Chris Kyle in American Sniper), Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss in The Hunger Games franchise), and Jeremy Renner (Jeffrey Dahmer in Dahmer). Kinda fun isn’t it?

Or how about Elvis Presley, Andy Kaufman, Virginia Woolf, Ty Cobb, and Ernest Hemingway?

That would be Batman Forever with Val Kilmer (Presley in True Romance), Jim Carrey (Kaufman in Man on the Moon), Nicole Kidman (Woolf in The Hours), Tommy Lee Jones (Cobb in Cobb), and Chris O’Donnell (Hemingway in In Love and War).

There’s last year’s Best Picture winner Birdman with Beetlejuice (Michael Keaton), The Hulk (Edward Norton), Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), and Princess Diana (Naomi Watts).

And 2012’s Oscar winner Argo starring Daredevil (Ben Affleck), Walter White (Bryan Cranston), Fred Flintstone (John Goodman), Shawshank Warden Norton (Bob Gunton), and “Orange is the New Black” main character Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling).

This December’s eagerly awaited Quentin Tarantino pic The Hateful Eight boasts Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), Dorothy Parker (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and Magic Mike (Channing Tatum).

What 1991 Oscar nominated political drama features Robin Hood, Ren McCormack, Harvey Dent, Harry Lyme, Dracula, Carrie White, Felix Ungar, Albert Einstein, President Snow, Uncle Buck, and “Seinfeld” neighbor Newman? It’s Oliver Stone’s JFK and I’ll let you figure out who’s who… it’s part of the fun!

And many of you took in this weekend’s #1 pic Ant-Man with Brian Fantana, Liberace, Kate Austen, Congressman Peter Russo, and Papa Doc.

I could go on and on, but just thought this might provide some film buff fanatics with an enjoyable new way to quiz and frustrate your friends. And thanks to Uncle Steve!