This Week in Box Office History examines what movies the audiences were rooting for over the last thirty years. What was soaking up all the money and popcorn butter during the 4th of July weekend? Read on!
June 28-July 4: The Trends
The comedy makes a comeback this week, as audiences apparently wanted to laugh their cares away…well, except for all the disaster movies that also exploded, crashed, or rolled their way to the top spots this week in history. The superheroes stayed strong as well, making this a pretty motley collection of trends to parse. So without further ado:
It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a dang sequel.
“Superman Returned. To pay child support one hopes.”
Transitioning from the “any superhero will do” weekend that preceded it, we get all sequels all the time here. Both Superman and Batman returned (though Batman had the good taste to not leave Vicki Vale with child.) Ralph Macchio won our hearts with the least convincing series of hay makers ever filmed in Karate Kid 2, and those damn Transformers wrecked buildings and my childhood for the second and third times. Technically Buzz Lightyear is a superhero (or the toy facsimile of one) so Toy Story 3 continues the sequel glory.
This week is a disaster. Good!
Everything apparently went to hell over the course of a week, because we had an appetite for destruction when it came to movie viewing. We’ve already covered the disaster that was Transformers 2 and 3 (see, a double entendre, we’re literary!) and the explosions kept coming with War of the Worlds in 2005 (Tom Cruise version, not, you know, the good one.) Furthering the calamity, we also have Apollo 13 and Perfect Storm, proving that if you put 3 guys together in a small ship, something is going to go horribly wrong. Interestingly we have our first documentary to crack a number one spot with 2004’s Fahrenheit 9/11. Lightening the mood, we come to perhaps the worst tragedy ever caught on film: Face/Off. We can all agree what an unremitting disaster that was.
“Seriously, what jackass looked at those two and thought: body doubles.”
Eddie Murphy plays Eddie Murphy. Why didn’t I think of that?
For much of my adult life the fourth of July weekend meant one thing: Will Smith was going to blow some shit up. For all the talk of Big Willy Weekend, none of his films made the scratch this week, and it will be interesting to see where they stack up next week. But Eddie Murphy apparently had the mojo in the late 90’s with both Doctor Doolittle and The Nutty Professor (starting a horrible trend of comedians in fat suits…you know what, I’m bumping this movie up a category into disaster.) Adam Sandler scored twice in 1999 and 2002 with Big Daddy and Mr. Deeds, Dan Aykroyd had both 1987’s Dragnet and 1984’s Ghostbusters. Technically Tom Hanks was in Dragnet and Apollo 13, so if you laughed even once during that movie, he has two #1 comedies as well. The Naked Gun 2 1/2 sequelled its way onto the list, and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle was good for another laugh in 2003, I guess. Rounding out the list in 2012 was Ted, so what the heck, even Marky Mark out did Will Smith this weekend.
” Suck it, Smith.”
In another first, Pale Rider made the top of the list in 1985, the only cowboy film to do so, thus far. In movie releases, Blade Runner dropped in 1982, but was outdone by an alien with long fingers who touched children. E.T. It was E.T., not the Michael Jackson masterpiece, The Wiz.
“But you know you wish it was.”
Box Office data can be found at Box Office Mojo. used with permission.