This Week in Box Office History: Mixed Emotions
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 audience preferences and spot the trends in movie watching history. Well, fiddle sticks. I’ve got some complicated feelings about this week’s offerings. On the one hand, John Leguizamo in drag and E.T.is off the top spot. On the other hand, Steven Seagal and Nicolas Cage. Twice. I think you get the picture. Let’s get to parsing trends, shall we.
The Trends: September 7-15th
The horror trend is still around, and decidedly religious this week, and some thrillers make an appearance to darken the mood. The 90’s are mixed bag of terribly good and terribly terrible. The 80’s are still being dominated by long lasting hits such as Back to the Future, Top Gun, and (making my heart glad), Mr. Mom starring Michael Keaton. Oh Mike, why did we ever stop loving you?
One dominant 80’s movie we don’t have to kick around this week is E.T., which was dethroned by a little-known movie starring Chachi from Happy Days: Zapped! This movie is like The Nutty Professor (the funny one, starring Jerry Lewis) going through puberty…or as you may know it Weird Science. A standard 80’s adolescent movie, with nothing to recommend it save a chipmunk-cheeked Scott Baio, it is a wonderment how it managed to out-gross the movie that’s been #1 for the better part of 2 months now. For the curious, watch the original trailer and try to figure out how anything on display in it wooed audiences away from their extraterrestrial love affair (and managed to impress studio execs enough to give Baio “Charles in Charge.”)
Possession is 9/10ths of the Box Office…
The 2000’s show a marked predilection to religious themed thrills and chills this week, with The Possession (’12), The Covenant (’06), and The Exorcism of Emily Rose (’05). The Final Destination and Jeepers Creepers 2 stayed around for an extra week, which is a week longer than the first installment of those series managed.
Several thrillers add their name to the list this week, such as The American and Contagion. I was expecting more political/war dram’s for the September 11th weekend, but either Hollywood has more tact, or they don’t but the movies were shit. No new pure horror movies make the list, though A Nightmare on Elm St. 4 still holds steady this week. Despite being critically panned, it has managed quite a few weeks of strong earnings.
What is horrifying is the first of two appearances this week by the walking meme generator, Nicolas Cage. Mr. Cage has certainly starred in some excellent movies such as Raising Arizona and Kick Ass. He’s also made some fun, mindless action fluff, such as Con Air and The Rock. Alas, he’s also made some of the worst crap to hit the cinema in recent memory. 2008’s remake of Bangkok Dangerous is unfortunately the latter. The original film is quite good, featuring a deaf/mute assassin who’s inability to hear gunshots makes him an unflinching marksman. The remakes is quite dreadful, featuring a tone deaf Nicolas Cage, who’s inability to emote makes for a cringe worthy performance. I understand that not nearly enough people saw the original, but the savaging the story takes in the remake is unforgivable. Here’s hoping that Spike Lee gets his upcoming Old Boy remake right.
The Best of the Rest
So that just leaves what was happening in the 90’s to discuss. What was happening in the 90’s? Damned if I know. It’s a movie buffet, with audiences mixing gross out comedies like Something About Mary (1998), buddy cop movies like Bulletproof (1996), swirling in Forrest Gump (1994), adding some creepy Keanu Reeves as a stalker (2000’s The Watcher) for seasoning, and then burning the whole concoction to a cinder with Chef Steven Sagal’s Fire Down Below(1997). While I applaud the environmentalist phase Steven went through (as opposed to, say, his current pathetic law enforcement farce), Fire Down Below is one of the awfullest movies in an awful career worth of movies. And you can take that to the bank…
No clear genre won the decade, which confounds trend making, but makes me glad as a movie viewer. Hollywood shouldn’t get to dictate our tastes by force feeding us only certain types of movies (I’m looking at you and your super hero addiction, June.) Maybe viewers were just more open to odd movies. It’s hard to get more delightfully odd than 1995’s To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. A travel movie about 3 drag queens (played by two action movie stars, and The Pest), small town misogyny, and a Cadillac, I’m still amazed that a) Westley Snipes agreed to the movie and b)the movie studio had the moxy to make it. Good on you Hollywood, that almost makes up for all the horribly sexist things you do on a regular basis. (Probably not though.)
Well, we’ve covered alot of the outliers, so there’s really just two films to mention: My Big Fat Greek Wedding introduced the nation to the hardships of being Greek (easily one of the most persecuted groups in American history, just behind people who actually like The Olive Garden and people who collect stamps). It also gave Joey Fatone his richly deserved second shot at fame. I’m pulling for you, Joe-Joe.
Secondly, we finally have another western to crack the top spot this week, with Christian Bale and Russel Crowe’s remake of 3:10 to Yuma (2007). Not my favorite, but certainly one of the better efforts, not only for westerns since Eastwood put away the spurs, but for Russel Crowe, who has been known to flounce his way through movies in which he is not the sole star or paired up with Ridley Scott.
So that about wraps it up.
What? I promised you two movies starring Nicolas Cage?
Oh, all right. This week also features 1992’s Honeymoon in Vegas. I can’t say if it’s a winner or a loser, because it has Sarah Jessica Parker in it, and I’d rather chew broken glass than watch anything she’s attached to. Oh, and Nicolas Cage is in it, so I’m going to just make a guess and say its an abominable train wreck.
Information courtesy of Box Office Mojo. Used with permission.