This Week in Box Office History
Another dreadful week on the prediction home front. New releases are under performing, and Guardians and TMNT just keep on steam rolling. Our year in focus, 1986, is chock full of great memories, so lets try to put a frustrating week in the rear-view as we focus on something positive: Kurt Russell.
The Week That Was: Actual/Predicted
Another week of being completely and utterly wrong. Summer is coming to an end, and I guess films just aren’t going to open north of 20 million anymore. Add to that a list of really crap films being crammed into the last few weeks, and my ability to predict a winner has been nil. Sigh.
1. Guardians of the Galaxy (17 million)/ TMNT (23 million)
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (16 million)/ Sin City 2 (18 million)
3. If I Stay (15 million)/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (14 million)
The Week That Will Be: Predictions
I could break these down film by film, but right now I’m in a three week-long slump. Seasoned analysis and statistics have netted me bubkis this month, so I’m just going to spitball my answers and hope one of these bastards stick. Go to it!
3. As Above, So Below (9 million)
2. Guardians of the Galaxy (10 million)
1. The November Man (16 million)
Top Movies (1986)
Top Grossing: Top Gun
If I even hear the opening bars of Highway to the Danger Zone, I curl up in the fetal position and go catatonic. Thanks to a college roommate who watched this film LITERALLY every day, I can have 75% of my brain surgically removed and still recite every line to this jingoistic testosterone fest. Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer oiled up and dude-broing on a beach volleyball court is permanently seared into my psyche. I would tell Maverick that his request for a flyby on my retinas is declined, that the pattern is full…but I know the asshole is just going to buzz the tower anyhow. Thanks Tom. Thanks for everything you’ve done.
Academy Award Best Picture: Platoon
Oliver Stone’s scathing depiction of war time atrocity and human degeneracy during the Vietnam War, Platoon was the first of three films Stone created about that conflict. It was also his most successful, both at the box office and with the Academy. Starring Charlie Sheen (who used to be able to act, before ingesting too much tiger’s blood and cocaine, in that order), Tom Berenger, and Willem Dafoe, Platoon follows a young recruit as he learns about the horrors of war in a war where horror is an every day occurrence.
Iconic performances abound, and some of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history can be found in this film. Not your father’s war movie, Stone set about to deliberately debunk the shining hero image created by legends like John Wayne. Platoon is unflinching in it’s portrayal, yet both sympathetic and loyal to the actual victims of the war itself, including the soldiers.
Longest at #1: Crocodile Dundee
The hilarious misadventures of Paul Hogan as the most famous Aussie in film history, Crocodile Dundee was filmed on a shoestring budget, hoping to make a quick buck for the Australian production company with American audiences. Dundee went on to become a world-wide hit, grossing more than 100 million at the box office. In a year loaded with excellent films, Dundee also ruled the roost for 9 straight weeks. That may not be your definition of a knife, but is the definition of an outright hit.
Our Pick: Big Trouble in Little China
What a year to pick a favorite from. Tim Curry and Tom Cruise had a legendary encounter in Legend, Paul Reuben took us on a fun filled journey through space with Flight of the Navigator, and David Bowie showed us a land of wonder (and his package via a criminally tight pair of pants) in Labyrinth. My second favorite Disney film of all time, The Great Mouse Detective, premiered as well. How to pick a winner? Well, I’ll tell you what old Jack Burton would do on the Pork Chop Express. He’d flatten James Hong with his tractor trailer, spit out a witty one-liner, and then he’d give the nod to John Carpenter’s delightfully cheesy Big Trouble in Little China. That’s what he’d do.
Featuring John Carpenter’s BFF Kurt Russell as a cock-sure long haul trucker, Big Trouble drops Jack Burton and his truck into China Town just as a centuries old warlock named Lo Pan (James Hong) is preparing to unleash hell. When the Triad gang working for Lo Pan kidnaps his best buddy’s girl, Jack and a band of China Town misfits must raid a demon infested tower in order to save the day. Along the way his truck is stolen, his lady-friend reporter is abducted, and he drinks a magical potion from a seven demon bag. All in a days work, if you ask me. Which you didn’t.
Perhaps the magnum opus of Carpenter’s ode to giving zero fucks about production values or traditional story-telling methods, Big Trouble is non-stop action and hilarity from beginning to end. Russell has just enough guts and luck to continually cash the checks his big mouth keep writing, and the kung-fu fight scenes in this epic are second to none. Add in remarkable supporting turns by James Hong as the villain, Kim Cattrall as the fire-brand local reporter, and Victor Wong as the virtuous wizard (and tour bus driver) Egg Shen, and you have a towering achievement of pacing, dialogue, and choreography that can make you believe in old school magic, even if only a tiny bit. Because that’s how these things always begin…
Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Used with permission.