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 audiences continue to diversify, and the statistical data is all over the field, making larger trends hard to spot. Lets go hunting!
July 19-25: The Trends
Last week saw Hollywood pivot from the monolithic blockbuster sequel into more varied, yet high budget and generally action themed, offerings. This week we see a few films that were outliers last time, hint at a shift towards more mature, less action oriented cinema.
This trend intended for a mature viewing audience
This week it seems that the blob of summer blockbusters reaches critical mass and splits into two distinct camps: light-hearted action and darker tinged Sci-Fi. Starting in 1983 we have audiences lured into one of the more questionable sequels, Jaws 3-D, about which the only nice thing I can say is that its title in French is “Les Dents de la Mer, 3” which sounds pretty cool…until you hear it in English: the teeth of the sea. Sorry Jaws 3, you aren’t even sexy in French.
“Editor: shitty shark movie jokes are reserved for See It Instead…”
Following Sea Tooth 3 (that’s what I’m calling it now. Makes going to the beach less traumatic.) we have the likes of Aliens (1986), Robocop (1987), and Terminator 2 (1991). After a brief lull, less gory but more technical Sci-Fi takes the honors with Jurassic Park 3 in 2001 (which sadly is still Jurassic Park 3 in French, was hoping for “the Tooth of the Silly Biology Farce” or something), I, Robot in 2004 and Inception in 2010.
With two months to go till Halloween, it was surprising to see that bona fide horror and thriller flicks are beating the heat and making the big money. Double dipping, we have Aliens to consider, plus Grisham’s break out adaptation The Firm (1993), 2000’s psychological teaser, What Lies Beneath, and this week’s upset winner, The Conjuring (2013). It will be interesting to see if this trend continues, or is simply mental sorbet to cleanse the palette of all the consequence free mayhem that summer movies tend to deliver. Perhaps people just like a good scare.
The More things Change…
And finally, for all the statistical noise, Hollywood continues to find money where you’d expect it: big action and sequels. Super Heroes are in abundance, with new entries including Robocop, Mask of Zorro (1998), The Dark Knight ( 2008), and The Dark Knight Rises (2012), amidst a slew of returning sequels such Terminator 2, another Harry Potter, and some more Pirates Off the Coast of Florida (apparently I don’t like how studios name their aquatic-themed movies.) Making up a smaller portion of the top box earners (12 out of 30 this week, compared to 19 of 30 on Independence Day weekend), we shall see if July 4th was the peak.
“Stop making terrible sequels, Hollywood, or there will be…trouble.”
With such a voluble sampling this week (see, college under-grads, there’s a use for Stats and Prob outside of padding the transcript) it was fun to find the way-out-there blips. First, E.T. is still #1 in 1982, and apparently will be all year at this rate. Did nothing else watchable come out that year? Next, we have a gangster movie in Road to Perdition, about the Irish mob starring Tom Hanks and the salad dressing dude (not Caesar…Paul Newman.) Lastly, we have Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. You could argue this film killed one of the greatest directors of our time, wrecked the fairy tale marriage of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, and gave the censorship board fits. All in all not a bad little gig. Oh, and it possibly has second creepiest sexual imagery ever featured here on This Week in Box Office History…
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to show it again.”
“Of course I am. Look at it. LOOK AT IT!”
Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Used with permission.