This Week in Box Office History: Comedy Is King


This Week in Box Office History:August 1 – 8


This Week in Box Office History takes a look at the last 30 years of top grossing movies.  Sifting through the celluloid, we nail down audiences preferences and spot the trends in movie watching history.  We keep things light this week, as comedies continue to dominate, and last week’s decade trend solidifies.  Let’s take a look at the film.

August 1st – 8th:  The Trends.

The first week of August appears to have audiences feeling bi-polar, as the two major trends on display are Comedies and Thrillers.  Of interest, distinct clumps of genres tend to appear, similar to last week.  And E.T. is back.  Reese’s Pieces must have spiked their candy in 1982, because viewers could not get enough of this movie.  I hope Hollywood remakes this film, just so we can finally have the E.T. game adaptation we deserve.

Etvideogamecover box office history

“And movie-based games are usually so good…”

Comedy is king

At the Box Office, comedies were a sure thing this week in history.  From the early 80’s Ghostbusters and National Lampoon’s Vacation, to the 90’s Parenthood and Hot Shots!, to more recent offerings such as Talladega Nights and Funny People, no other genre did as consistently well.  The interesting part of this trend is that there is only two sequels on the list, American Pie’s American Wedding (2003) and Rush Hour 2 (2001).  Having a bankable comedic star was more important than a bankable series, so we have new vehicles for actors like Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn, Julia Roberts, and Adam Sandler.  Perhaps the reliability of comedies in August allows Hollywood to green-light new projects instead of simply churning out awful iterations.  Let’s all hope.  Another interesting note is that many of these comedies spawned sequels or series themselves.  Can that mean Funny People 2 is far off?

PosterFunnyPeople box office history“I think the title is supposed to be ironic, but I don’t see Eddie Murphy or Chevy Chase anywhere…”

Cause this is Thriller!

The second most dominant genre this time out is the thriller, but the list of movies with “-thriller” tags point to a rather generous use of the designation.  What is fun to see is that the types of thrillers tend to congregate by time period.

90’s Political Thrillers

Perhaps because America experienced a decade of relative peace and prosperity, with the shoe rental guy from the Big Lebowski as our chief international adversary, Americans longed for a clear and present danger.  And A Clear and Present Danger (1994).  You can book me for children’s parties, but please make sure your toddler has seen most of the Coen Brothers’ films or he’s not going to get the references.

biglebowskisaddam box office history

“These are the jokes, people.”

Political/Dramatic Thrillers took several #1 spots, with Air Force One, Rising Sun, and A Time to Kill all doing brisk business.

Early 2000’s Horror Thrillers

Shifting away from such plausible villains as Japanese business men, the 2000’s decided to go further afield to create tension.  Much further afield.

The_Village_movie box office history

“You see, it’s funny because most of the movie is set in a field…oh I give up.”

Hollow Man (2000), Signs (2002), and The Village (2004), all made a strong showing in the supernatural thriller category, before M. Night completely poisoned the well with Lady in the Water and The Happening.  Spoiler alert, the twist ending to those movies is that they suck.

Late 2000’s Action Thrillers

The current decade is all Chris Nolan.  I can comfortably call him Chris, because we are in no way acquainted and not on speaking terms.  Both Dark Knight movies remained on top this week, along with Inception, and adding to the brooding tension is a Bourne movie, The Bourne Ultimatum.  With Matt Damon in talks to reprise his Jason Bourne role, we may be seeing more of this series despite Hawkeye putting an arrow in its heart with The Bourne Legacy.

renner box office history

“Kind of like Daniel Craig and Nathan Fillion had a disappointing son.  I’m strangely OK with picturing that.”

Notable Movies

Besides E.T. reclaiming the top spot in 1982 (apparently Burt Reynolds didn’t have a ton of staying power, despite starring in a movie with the word “Whore” in the title), we have our first Bond film to place in the top spot, 1987’s The Living Daylights.  This makes my heart proud, since it was not only the first Bond movie I ever saw as a child, but it features both a theme-song by A-ha, and the best Bond:  Timothy Dalton.  That was not a joke.  Both Dalton movies are cooler than a T-Rex on a water-ski.  Hollywood done effed it up by not making more Dalton films.

The_Living_Daylights_-_UK_cinema_poster box office history

“Just looking at this poster will grow hair on your chest.  I guess I should have warned our lady viewers.  Sorry.”

Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo.  Used with permission.

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