This Week in Box Office History: July 12-18

Johna travolta cover of staying alive
Boo! Remember me!

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.  This week, the trends are pivoting towards lighter fare, though last weeks action sequel bonanza is still in evidence.

July 12-18:  The Trends

This Week in Box Office History‘s major trends show a continuation of the of the Big Action Sequel effect, but an interesting move into family friendly territory.  Rather than a sharp course correction, it seems that Hollywood continued to release large budget action films geared towards an expanded audience.  In less technical terms, stuff still explodes, but in a kid friendly way.

Harry Potter Deathly Hallows movie - This week In Box Office History

“See, that’s better.”

It’s a Sequel of a Sequel…

Sequels, besides being a word that quickly becomes ridiculous if you say it enough (go ahead, give it a whirl,) were still big business this weekend. Action sequels still held strong this week, as did newcomers Hell Boy 2 and Spider-Man 2.  Two Pirates of the Caribbean movies made the list (the 2003 original and the 2006 Dead Man’s Chest) as well as a pair of Harry Potter movies:  Order of the Phoenix (2007) and Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011.)  So I guess that’s technically part seven part two,  which is way too many sequels of a film not starring an axe murderer in a hockey mask.

Voldemort - Harry Potter Movies This week In Box Office History“Gets an ‘A’ for effort though.”

Laugh till you cry

Comedies did surprisingly well this week, going back to that old work horse Ghostbusters (1984,) with “original” movies making the grade (the only comedy sequel to place was 1987’s heart-warming and thought-provoking Revenge of the Nerds 2: Nerds in Paradise– a real Oscar-bait movie if I’ve ever seen one.)  Taking the gold was Coming to America (1988,) A League of Their Own (1992,) American Pie (1999,) Legally Blonde (2001,) and Bruno (2009.)  You can tell audiences aren’t interested in doing any heavy lifting when movies starring Madonna or centered around having sex with a pie make the top spots.

American Pie movie This week In Box Office History

“Cinemas finest hour.”

Kids these days

To accommodate the marauding bands of summer-break children roving the landscape, we start to see more family friendly films this weekend.  E.T.(1982) starts the trend, but with the glut of 90’s action films, very few children’s movies took the top spot until recently.  Disney relied on live action comedies broken up by classic re-releases through much of the late 80’s and early 90’s, but couldn’t quite make the cut.  In the 2000s the Harry Potter phenomenon took two top spots, Pixar was won out with two Despicable Me‘s and an Ice Age sequel, and Charlie and Chocolate Factory got rewarded for pissing all over my childhood.  Thanks for that, Johnny Depp.

charlie-and-the-chocolate-factory_ This week In Box Office History

“I defy you to not slap this face.”

Notable Movies

A few outliers made it onto the radar this week.  Two honest to god dramas took top honors, The Firm in 1993 and Apollo 13 in 1995.  Pretty much an emotional renaissance compared to the knuckle-head action movies or juvenile comedies surrounding them.  Finally, a movie written and directed by Sylvester Stallone which did not require a horse’s weight in steroids was #1 in 1983:  Staying Alive.  For our younger readers, this was not a movie about being pinned under a boulder, it was a film about disco dancing starring John Travolta.  So we’ve gotten our first dance/musical out of the way.


“Nothing funny to say here. Move along.”


“OK, can’t help it.  Why did they put the tag line right on his dick?  Why?”

Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo.  Used with permission.


  1. Rejected jokes for Staying Alive… “Yo Mr. Cotter, check out my banana hammock!” and “Lord of the Dunce”

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