Saturday, December 01, 2012

Direct Current #29/Box Office 1999

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Action Comics #14
Grant Morrison's run on this series is coming to a close, and so it's only appropriate that I begin pointing out how it's similar to some of the other work he's done.  Also, please note the backup feature from Sholly Fisch!

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - The Next Generation 1x7 "Lonely Among Us"
If the title doesn't sound familiar, don't worry.  It's just that kind of an episode.  But don't assume you can skip it!  In a weird kind of way, this pretty much unmemorable episode is a good one as far as the early episodes of Next Generation go.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Tony Laplume - The Age of Convolution
It's funny, because this blog post is also kind of convoluted.  It talks about Oliver Stone's Savages.  It talks about the crappy economy.  It talks about my own fiction.  It talks about Shakespeare!  You may just have to click the link:

Read more here.


In a lot of ways, 1999 was the start of a peculiarly modern trend, in that the most popular movie of a given year was not actually popular.  Or at least, the people who went to see it, among them there was a notably apathetic or cynical or downright hostile element.  You'll see.

1. Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace ($431 mil)
Well, that title just about sums it up.  Also, the name "Jar Jar Binks."  But you have to admit, before it was released the whole world unabashedly loved Star Wars, and already loved this movie, and that's why it made so much.  Sometimes the dragons of expectation leave you burned.  That's what the modern era is teaching us more and more.  Sometimes it absolutely works in your favor (Lord of the Rings, Avengers), sometimes it doesn't (or some people will tell themselves).  It depends on whether people have real expectations or not.  Star Wars kept making money with the next two movies, but more and more (some) fans didn't care anymore.  Then Lucas sold his baby to Disney.  I'm writing a lot more about Phantom Menace than is typical in this box office survey because I still have many things to say about what happened to it.  Perhaps it will come as no surprise, but I love it, I really do.  Even with some of the silly antics there's some truly breathtaking and revolutionary filmmaking on display, stuff that no one has been able to approach even today.  I call that a success no matter the reputation.

2. The Sixth Sense ($293 mil)
M. Night Shyamalan was a talent who literally came out of nowhere.  His only other feature length film to this point had been Wide Awake, and I doubt most people are aware of that one even now.  He exploded at the end of that summer, and he became a type overnight, and many of his other films seemed to follow that type, and people assumed they knew exactly what that was.  But I call Shyamalan one of the first victims of the new era.  He's got mad talent.  Hopefully people will be able to see that again, because they definitely saw it in this film.

3. Toy Story 2 ($245 mil)
It's kind of amazing how quickly Pixar went the sequel route, and it's very indicative of the direction that movies were starting to take.  You might even call Toy Story 2 the sequel origin of the modern sequel mania.

4. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me ($206 mil)
What made this one a success wasn't just that people realized only after the release of the first one how incredibly awesome it was, but that like the Lethal Weapon franchise someone realized that you've always got to add something new to the sequels.  Here it was Mini Me.  The third one did not do the same, and so the franchise ended.  Learned your lesson now?

5. The Matrix ($171 mil)
This is essentially the reason Star Wars "flopped," because all the cool kids glommed onto Neo and his brood, the same way Star Trek started to tank in the '90s when the zeitgeist was stolen by The X-Files.  But you should always be careful.  The cool kids are fickle.  Don't believe me?  Have a look at 2003.

6. Tarzan ($171 mil)
Disney started making male-centered animated movies, and this was the zenith of that trend.  In a lot of ways it's the most traditional of all the movies the studio produced since the 1989 rebirth.  But do you remember it at all?

7. Big Daddy ($163 mil)
Adam Sandler indulges himself, loses the support of the critics (if it ever truly existed), and sets the pattern for his post-wild success career.

8. The Mummy ($155 mil)
Bringing back the monster flicks of yore and attempting to craft Brendan Fraser into Indiana Jones.  Brendan Fraser is great and all, but he is not Indiana Jones.  That's why this is better known as a ensemble franchise.

9. Runaway Bride ($152 mil)
Julia Roberts continues to celebrate her popular comeback by reuniting with Richard Gere.

10. The Blair Witch Project ($140 mil)
The modern horror flick hits the next level.  Also one of the first giant smash indy successes.  Although let's face it, it's a logistical nightmare more than anything.  It features a bunch of kids too stupid to understand they found exactly what they were looking for.  Maybe next time don't obsess over witches?

Other notable releases: Stuart Little ($140 mil; Michael J. Fox makes a popular comeback voicing a mouse), The Green Mile ($136 mil; Frank Darabont and Stephen King add Tom Hanks to the mix and find themselves with a hit), American Beauty ($130 mil; from hence forward the stereotype of indy filmmaking), The World is Not Enough ($126 mil; James Bond falls out of the top ten, but it was a pretty busy year), Wild Wild West ($113 mil; Will Smith's infamous "bomb" is another example of the 1999 phenomenon), Analyze This ($106 mil; Robert De Niro reinvents himself as a comedic actor), American Pie ($102 mil; the start of the youth rush), Entrapment ($87 mil; Catherine Zeta-Jones with the first older man she paired off with), The Talented Mr. Ripley ($81 mil; more like the talented cast), Any Given Sunday ($75 mil; Oliver Stone scores a hit with a football movie), Galaxy Quest ($71 mil; a great parody and a great sci-fi movie), Bowfinger ($66 mil; critics loved this one, but fans of Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin should probably still consider it worth discovering), Life ($63 mil; another excellent Eddie Murphy flick from 1999), Three Kings ($60 mil; George Clooney in another of his early classics), The Cider House Rules ($57 mil; like a lot of people this was the first time I took notice of Michael Caine), Eyes Wide Shut ($55 mil; was supposed to be a standout for every other reason), Varsity Blues ($52 mil; whip cream bikini for Ali Larter), South Park - Bigger, Longer and Uncut ($52 mil; it's funny that both South Park and Family Guy have basically become The Simpsons), The Hurricane ($50 mil; Denzel Washington starts making great films again), 10 Things I Hate About You ($38 mil; audiences take notice of Heath Ledger), Fight Club ($37 mil; sorry, I can't talk about this one), Man on the Moon ($34 mil; another great Jim Carrey film), Instinct ($34 mil; great film starring Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jr, and Maura Tierney), The 13th Warrior ($32 mil; great film starring Antonio Banderas), Dogma ($30 mil; Kevin Smith starts to stretch as a filmmaker), The Insider ($29 mil; another great, starring Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, and Christopher Plummer), Girl, Interrupted ($28 mil; audiences take notice of Angelina Jolie), The Iron Giant ($23 mil; the animated movie from 1999 that fans still talk about), Being John Malkovich ($22 mil), Go ($16 mil), Bringing Out the Dead ($16 mil; Martin Scorsese enables Nicolas Cage), Muppets from Space ($16 mil; finally an original movie again, but probably a little too late), Wing Commander ($11 mil; the movie that was eclipsed by Star Wars), Boys Don't Cry ($11 mil; they also don't have boobs like Hilary Swank), The End of the Affair ($10 mil; another personal favorite, but that's true of a lot of movies from 1999), Office Space ($10 mil; one of the great comedies), Mystery, Alaska ($8 mil; Russell Crowe plays hockey), Run Lola Run ($7 mil), Buena Vista Social Club ($7 mil), Topsy-Turvy ($6 mil), Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels ($3 mil), Liberty Heights ($3 mil), The Limey ($3 mil), Cradle Will Rock ($2 mil; so many great performances in this one, but the most notable is Bill Murray's first dramatic turn, which he later turns into a popular comeback), Princess Mononoke ($2 mil), Happy, Texas ($1 mil), The King of Masks ($1 mil), Ride with the Devil ($600 thou), Earth ($400 thou), Trekkies ($300 thou), The War Zone ($200 thou; first movie to feature Colin Farrell), Following (40 thou; Christopher Nolan's first film), Free Enterprise ($30 thou)

I really tried to continue restraining myself, but 1999 was another watershed for me.  There's so many movies worth watching and noting.  If I were to write a book about any one year of movie releases, this would be that year.  (Feel free to throw cash at me so I could take the time to do that.)

Source: Box Office Mojo


PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

It's too bad Free Enterprise only made $30 thou. I love that movie. I think it got eclipsed by "Trekkies". Bad timing I suppose.

It is amazing how much some "flops" can make but that's sort of the template for a lot of movies these days. You have one big weekend and then drop like a stone.

Really your comment on The Mummy should have said Hello Rachel Weisz. Yowza.

Tony Laplume said...

Yeah it should have.

Andrew Leon said...

I love Phantom Menace, also.

Tony Laplume said...

That's at least two of us!


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