This Week in Box Office History
In this week’s installment of This Week in Box Office History, we journey back to 1981 to catch up with all of the excellent films that were made that year. Before we explore the past, let’s explore…the more recent past. Last week. Let’s look at how our predictions stood up for last week. Yeesh.
The Week That Was: Actual/Predicted
1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (72 million)/Same (45 million).
I predicted a much softer weekend for Monkeys Vs. Humans 7. Critics went bananas over the simian cinema, mostly powered by the digital wizardry of Andy Serkis. Seriously. He’s some kind of CG warlock. Look at all of the magic orbs he’s always wearing. Beware.
2. Transformers 4 (16 million)/Same (20 million).
Audiences stayed away from this Bay-splosion, one week too late. I’m sure he was able to trick viewers abroad, though. A lack of coherent dialogue is more of a feature than a bug in those markets, I would assume.
3. Tammy (12 million)/ Same (10 million).
The Week That Will Be: Predictions
3. Planes: Fire and Rescue (20 million)
An unnecessary sequel to a film that flopped, Pixar apparently wants to stick its hand back into the fire with the lack-luster spin off from it’s Cars franchise. The only plausible explanation I can offer is that Pixar has gotten so good at turning this dreck out, it costs next to nothing for them to slap some eyeballs and a mouth onto a rendered vehicle. I expect this film will continue the Animation Saturation situation we find ourselves in. At 20 million on opening, I think this turkey will barely make it off the run-way.
2. The Purge: Anarchy (25 million)
Another movie that is a follow up to a franchise that doesn’t seem to warrant an extension, this second Purge is also entering a season that has been poison for its genre. Horror movies have been deadly at the Box Office, so I expect this one to under-perform the original by a good margin.
1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (35 million)
Based on strong word of mouth and critical reception, I think this ape-apalooza to continue to earn well at the theater. Its first week was a bit of a suprise at 75 million, so I think a 50-60% cool down to be in order, but that should still leave this film as the top banana. Monkey humor. Timeless.
Top Movies: 1981
Top Grossing: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Harrison Ford was at the top of his game in the 80’s, and Raiders of the Lost Ark marked the pinnacle of his collaborations with director Steven Spielberg. For younger fans, it is nearly inconceivable that a movie this good could have preceded the flaming debacle that was Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Or as I will forever call it: The Raiders of Indiana Jones’ Lost Dignity.
Academy Award Best Picture: Chariots of Fire
I never saw this film, so I’m going to assume it is a glorious epic about a flaming chariot. Something like this:
Longest Time at #1: Not Available
Our Pick: Das Boot
What another difficult year to pick a favorite! This year is heavy on the cheese factor: Time Bandits, Clash of the Titans, Escape from New York, and what should have been a slam dunk for favorite – The Evil Dead. Sorry Bruce, I had to throw my vote to the harrowing tale of survival under the sea. Not The Little Mermaid…Das Boot.
Das Boot is an unrivaled classic. If Hollywood had a clue, they would have stopped making submarine movies after Das Boot was created, since it is THE submarine movie to end them all. And rule them all. Because the movie is amazing.
Focusing on the plight of one German U-Boat at the end of the second World War, Das Boot makes you root for the “bad guys” as you witness the horrific struggles the crew of U-96 faced on each and every mission. With Germany losing on all fronts, U-96 is sent on ever more suicidal missions. Only the steely will of its captain, excellently captured by Jurgen Prochnow (you may know him better as the German captain in Beer Fest), and the dedication of her increasingly frustrated crew keep U-96 from bursting apart at the seems. Although it does, frequently. Oh, and at one point it spends a day trapped on the bottom of the ocean, while the men desperately attempt every Hail Mary plan to avoid a slow death.
The relationship between soldier and country is frequently explored, as the captain is disgusted by Nazi policy and Hitler’s maniacal directives, but is torn by his love of country and duty to his ship. A ship captain from generations of ship captains, Prochnow wrestles with his conscience and vocation with each and every encoded mission his ship receives.
Dark, morally challenging, and featuring an excellent crew, Das Boot oozes tension. You’ll be captivated from the first dive all the way to the white knuckle finish of U-96’s final mission.
Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Used with permission.