This Week In Box Office History: Show Time! (Focus: 1988)

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This Week in Box Office History

Ah…so where were we?  Took at little bit of a vacation there, and apparently audiences did as well.  September’s numbers were the lowest in 6 years, with only the young adult phenom The Maze Runner doing  sizable business at the box office.  Luckily for all of us, October is the greatest month of the year.  Halloween is just around the corner, and Hollywood seems poised to trick or treat us at the movie theater.  Now hopefully they manage to scare viewers out of more than just their hard earned cash…

The Week That Was:  Actual/Predicted

The Equalizer movie
After pistol-whipping the box office, Denzel “convinced” people to get their butts back to the movie theaters this week.

Denzel Washington’s steely resolve managed to cap a weekend rally that saved September from being even more of a disaster than it already was.  His film, The Equalizer,  joined The Maze Runner as only the second film this month to open north of 30 million dollars.

1.  The Equalizer (34 million)/  NA

2.  The Maze Runner (17 million)/ NA

3.  The Boxtrolls (17 million)/ NA

The Week That Will Be:  Predictions

This week could be touch and go.  Audiences seem desperate for a good flick lately, and plenty of hype and attention has been circling Gone Girl lately.  Adapted from a successful novel, starring Ben Affleck, and promising to raise eyebrows at the Academy Awards, we may have a perfect storm that will lift this R-Rated drama above the crowd – and it’s genre.  Annabelle, a prequel to last years horror hit The Conjuring, seems poised to keep the franchise relevant in advance of the inevitable sequel.  I have a hard time seeing it join the 30 million plus club, as second efforts in the horror genre rarely catch fire like their first outing, and audiences have been hesitant to embrace films featuring scares this year (especially since we’ve suffered through a brain-dead year of sequels as opposed to the many original offerings of 2013.)

Gone Girl movie
“…and in summary, that is why I feel I deserve this year’s best actor nominee. Thank you.”

3.  The Equalizer (14 million)

2.  Annabelle (27 million)

1.  Gone Girl (35 million)

 

Top Movies (1988)

Highest Grossing:  Rain Man

Definitely the best film starring Tom Cruise and a mentally challenged sibling.  Definitely, definitely.

Rain Man features  Cruise as Charlie,  a selfish and manipulative socialite who learns that he has been stiffed of his family’s estate in favor of his brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman), who is autistic.  Charlie never knew about this older brother, and sets out to…well…kidnap him basically and demand a portion of the inheritance.  Along the way, Charlie looses his girlfriend, his collection of sports cars, and his sanity.  But he does gain an appreciation for Jeopardy, The People’s Court, and his older brother Raymond, whom he starts to care for.  Can his new-found soft side aid and abet his former life of slightly illegal car collecting?  Does K-Mart really suck?  Find out for yourself!

Rain Man
Hi, I’ll have a vodka-tonic, and my brother here will have all the money in your vault.

Academy Award Best Picture:  Good Morning, Vietnam

 

Good Morning, Vietnam
Not a bad yearbook photo…

Robin Williams impressed the Academy with his irreverent wit in what turns out to be a somber film set during the Vietnam conflict.  Williams plays an armed forces  DJ stationed in Vietnam, who attempts to lighten the load for the soldiers by recreating American programming, complete with impressions, edgy comedy, and of course rock and roll.  His program is loved by the soldiers but hated by the brass, who prefer a more stately and dignified selection of polka music.  When his involvement with local Vietnamese youngsters through an English as a second language program gets him involved with a troubled youth tangled up in the Viet Cong, Williams is canned.  His search for answers, both from the young Viet Cong, and his superiors, who have silenced his radio program and news of a bombing that took place near the base, reveals the deep divide between good intentions and the realities in of armed conflict on foreign soil.  A lesson that America apparently needs to relearn every generation, unfortunately.

Longest at #1:  Rain Man

It turns out that K-Mart does indeed suck.  Sorry for the suspense.  That is all.Rain Man

Beetlejuice
Yes, a pre-Capitol One Credit Card Alec Baldwin!

Our Pick:  Beetlejuice

Bruce Willis died hard, Eddie Murphy came to America, and Tom Hanks was Big,  but my favorite movie from 1988 starred Michael Keaton as the ghost with the most in Tim Burton‘s macabre romp through the netherworld:  Beetlejuice.

The Maitlands (Gena Davis and Alec Baldwin) are an ideal American newly-wed couple, living in their dream home and completing their dream project:  a miniature model recreation of the surrounding town.  Disaster strikes on a trip into town to get parts for the model, and the Maitlands wind up dead.  Rather than tripping the light fantastic, though, the pair end up in the netherworld, a bureaucratic mess of an afterlife.  Given their options, they return to their beloved house as ghosts, only to discover that they have an infestation of living people.  Worse, their yuppies.  The Deetzes are fleeing posh New York, and are wrecking the Maitlands’ dream home with garish art nouveau, silly seances, and all manner of impolite hijinx.  Only their angst-ridden teenage daughter, Lydia (Winona Ryder) can see the put-out ghosts, so the Mailtands desperately turn to a professional poltergeist:  Michael Keaton as the delightfully repulsive Beetlejuice.Beetlejuice

michael keaton
Just tell me this doesn’t look like box office gold!

The cast is impressive and wonderful, but the movie is all Michael Keaton.  He manages to steal every scene, even from Tim Burton’s crazy creations.  A sleazy car salesman of a ghost (who attended Julliard and survived the Black Plague, thank you very much!) Beetlejuice is Keaton at the top of his form:  manic energy, hilarious impersonations, vile foul mouthed tirades, all wrapped up neatly in the persona of a borscht-belt vaudeville comedian with a mean streak a mile wide.  Crammed full of amazing visuals and great set-pieces, Beetlejuice is fun from beginning to end, and has me all sorts of excited about Keaton’s return to the big screen this year in Birdman…which looks like it could be even crazier than his performance in Beetlejuice!

Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo.  Used with permission.

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