takes a look at the last 30 years of top grossing movies. Sifting through the celluloid, we review audience preferences and spot the trends in movie watching history. As we have seen in the Box Office Wrap Up for this week, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Last week’s number 1’s are mostly still here, with some very odd exceptions. Steven Seagal is not only back, but he’s on the list twice! And he bumped Daniel Day Lewis. I smell blood…
The Trends: October 10th – 14th.
Of the 30 movies on the list this week, 19 are returning for a second (or longer) week at the top spot. It’s easy to chalk this up to the quality of the movies we saw last week, but that theory is pretty much dead on arrival. Sure, fan favorites like Seven and Fatal Attraction are still making money, but absolute classics like The Last of the Mohicans and Gorillas in the Mist did an unceremonious fade. And while some really interesting films do make an appearance, such as Alien Nation, with Mandy Patinkin, replacing Gorillas, we also have Steven Seagal dropping another dookey on the list with Under Seige replacing Mohicans. It’s inconceivable.
More of the Same
The 2000’s and the 1980’s had very little volatility. In the 1980’s, it’s forgivable. Hard to argue against Arnold tearing it up in Commando, or the much anticipated return of Connery as 007 in Never Say Never Again. The 2000’s is is a little dicier. Sure, Gravity is currently knocking it dead, with a strong second week and stiff competition, and both Hugh Jackman (Real Steel) and Liam Neeson (Taken 2) can do no wrong when it comes to putting butts in seats. But, Beverly Hill Chihuahua? Out earning Leo DiCaprio in a Ridley Scott film? That must have been some rough news.
The middle years are harder to justify. From our current vantage, it’s difficult to understand the Box Office draw stars like Seagal had in their prime. And even in the lean years, John Travolta managed to get respectable results. Travolta appears twice, with Look Who’s Talking (1989) marking the begin of his slow decline into family fare, and with Pulp Fiction (1994) beginning his sudden re-emergence into darker action films. Seagal not only holds strong with Marked for Death(1990), he knocks out both The Last of the Mohicans and A River Runs Through It with Under Siege (1992). Go figure.
As noted above, Alien Nation was a surprising addition to the Box Office History list. Sure, James Caan and Mandy Patinkin are excellent actors, but the film was a low key cop procedural starring a human cop and his alien partner. While containing some humor, Alien Nation was really an allegory for race relations, using the cover of Sci-Fi to allow for a less censored take on racism and xenophia. Later adapted into a television series, it obviously pressed buttons in audiences.
Another notable film comes courtesy of Hollywood’s new darling and timeless action star, Sly Stallone. Besides penning hits like Staying Alive and Rocky, Sly managed to put numerous #1’s on the canvas, including this week’s Demolition Man. Despite my subtle and nuanced feelings towards Wesley Snipes, Demolition Man was a fun romp into the future, like Bill and Ted with a dramatically increased arsenal. Time will tell if the new spate of Stallone flicks will be as fondly remembered (and successful) as his 90’s action spree.
Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Used with permission.