Friday, November 30, 2012

Direct Current #28/Box Office 1998

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Teen Titans #0
I completed my collection of New 52 Zero Month spotlights on Robin once I realized that this issue was among them.  Tim Drake, the third Robin, has been camping out in this series, and finally gets to flex his wings a little.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - The Next Generation 1x6 "Where No One Has Gone Before"
An early bright spot in a season that is otherwise awash in too much misery, this is an unexpected new classic that gives Wesley Crusher a worthy turn and introduces the Traveler, whose importance is far greater than some fans may realize.

Read more here.


1998 was one of the first years where I didn't just see one or two movies in theaters, but rather started to catch them on a more regular basis.  It was a pretty interesting year to began that.

1. Saving Private Ryan ($216 mil)
Perhaps the fact that it was the top draw (other than all those months that 1997's Titanic continued to reign supreme at the start of the year) is one of the reasons so many people still can't understand how this lost the Best Picture to Shakespeare in Love at the Oscars.

2. Armageddon ($201 mil)
You can thank this movie both for Michael Bay's blockbuster career as well as Aerosmith and thus Steven Tyler's later success (it gave them their first #1 hit).

3. There's Something About Mary ($176 mil)
Too much importance was placed on the fact that the Farrelly brothers directed this.  It was not a success because of the Farrelly brothers.  It was because of Ben Stiller.  His rise to superstardom is proof of that.  And also because of Cameron Diaz, the eponymous Mary.

4. A Bug's Life ($162 mil)
The Pixar era is transformed from a Toy Story phenomenon to a continuing series of hits.  Although I think this is one of the weaker efforts.

5. The Waterboy ($161 mil)
For many people, this is the start of Adam Sandler's career, which may explain many things about his subsequent career.

6. Doctor Dolittle ($144 mil)
Eddie Murphy scores another big hit by revamping another old one.  Although this became a franchise just like Nutty Professor, I wonder if his fans actually remember this one.

7. Rush Hour ($141 mil)
Jackie Chan in his biggest hit, but mostly thanks to the fantastic and totally unexpected chemistry with Chris Tucker, who later decides that he's made enough money on this success, and doesn't work so much.

8. Deep Impact ($140 mil)
This was a time for disaster movies.  This was one of those, and also an indication that rival Hollywood projects don't always cancel each other out.  Basically a variation on Armageddon.

9. Godzilla ($136 mil)
The originators of the disaster phenomenon decided to make this.  And then got back to disaster movies.

10. Patch Adams ($135 mil)
Robin Williams the last time wide audiences saw him and the role that made critics start to hate him.  Good stuff, though, and also the secret origin of Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Other notable releases: Lethal Weapon 4 ($130 mil; adds Chris Rock and Jet Li! saw this in theaters, absolutely loved it), The Truman Show ($125 mil; I think after critics decided they wouldn't reward this performance, audiences stopped taking Jim Carrey seriously; long one of my favorite movies), Mulan ($120 mil; another unorthodox Disney animated flick, and the secret origin of Eddie Murphy's transformation into genius voice-over actor), Shakespeare in Love ($100 mil; I absolutely adore this movie, so I will never complain about its controversial win), The Mask of Zorro ($94 mil; another movie I love), Antz ($90 mil; the rival to A Bug's Life, and essentially the only animated Woody Allen flick), The X-Files: Fight the Future ($83 mil; at the time this franchise was huge, and this was the first indication of its limits), Star Trek: Insurrection ($70 mil; not the best but still an entertaining entry in another sci-fi franchise), Blade ($70 mil; the secret origin of Marvel's movie age), Lost in Space ($69 mil; the movie that finally took the top of the box office from Titanic did not have much more to crow about, though I love it), Life Is Beautiful ($57 mil; a fascinating oddity), U.S. Marshals ($57 mil; the indirect sequel to The Fugitive starring Tommy Lee Jones), The Man in the Iron Mask ($56 mil; the first indication that Leonardo DiCaprio would not be an automatic box office draw following Titanic), Snake Eyes ($55 mil; love this Nicolas Cage effort), What Dreams May Come ($55 mil; Robin Williams goes surreal and hardly anyone follows), Halloween: H2O ($55 mil; much ballyhooed revival putting the typical late '90s focus on the stars, including original franchise star Jamie Lee Curtis), Meet Joe Black ($44 mil; among my favorite Brad Pitt movies), The Negotiator ($44 mil; another favorite), Primary Colors ($39 mil; last great John Travolta movie?), Out of Sight ($37 mil; first great George Clooney, last great Jennifer Lopez?), The Thin Red Line ($36 mil; return of Terrence Malick after many years), A Night at the Roxbury ($30 mil; an early effort to make a movie star of Will Ferrell), Elizabeth ($30 mil; helping make Cate Blanchett a star), Spice World ($29 mil; Spice Girls meet their X-Files), The Avengers ($23 mil; based on the British TV show; will always be my favorite movie with this title), The Big Lebowski ($17 mil; not a big hit, but a big cult hit), Dark City ($14 mil), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ($10 mil; even rabid Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp, and Hunter S. Thompson fans can't save this one's reputation), American History X ($6 mil; Edward Norton's best movie), Celebrity ($5 mil; Leo DiCaprio also starred in this Woody Allen movie, which obviously was not titanic at the box office), Pi ($3 mil; secret original of Darren Aronofsky), Wide Awake ($200 thou; secret origin of M. Night Shyamalan)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Direct Current #27/Box Office 1997

First, before I get to the usual business, let me acknowledge that I goofed yesterday.  It was supposed to be my first day of participation in the

Blogathon of Doom!  Instead, I did not do anything.  Theoretically, like all blogathons, it's supposed to help make more people aware of more blogs, and promote their books at the same time.  I made my book Monorama free that day in anticipation (because there's supposed to be a drawing each post for a free book, though my goal is to make mine free to anyone each day I participate) an' everything!

Anyway, I'll try to do better the next three Wednesdays (which I signed up to cover).  I will do better!


ITEM!  Tony Laplume - Yoshimi...?
I broke the news for my peeps in this post about the fate of the publisher in Texas that was going to make a legitimate bookman of me.  I wrote Yoshimi specifically for the occasion.  I don't regret that, now that the publisher no longer exists.  Anyway,

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - The Next Generation 1x4 "Code of Honor"
One of the legitimately embarrassing episodes of Star Trek, this stinker is so bad even the people who make fun of Star Trek fans would probably not even stoop to reference it.  That's pretty bad, right?

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - The Next Generation 1x5 "The Last Outpost"
Some fans never did get around to liking the Ferengi, even when they got awesome in Deep Space Nine.  This probably can't be blamed entirely on their first appearance, but this is not a bad place to begin looking.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Reading Comics #84 "Natural Born Morrison"
Remember Morrison's super psychological Batman graphic novel, Arkham Asylum?  Well, Kill Your Boyfriend is sort of his version of that with really ordinary psychopaths, instead of people with strange faces and cape fetishes.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Superman #13
Creative dynamos Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort are already a sensation, but they mean to emphasize the point by letting Clark Kent quit the Daily Planet.  Oh, I'm sorry.  Spoiler alert.

ITEM!  Examiner - Killing Them Softly opening this weekend
The new film from Brad Pitt and Andrew Dominik (Chopper, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) is on my must-list.  Here I attempt to explain why it should be on yours as well.


Continuing our look at the year-by-year box office successes of the past, if you somehow don't know what ruled the roost in 1997, you were probably born after it.  In which case, thanks for reading!  Go Bieber!

1. Titanic ($600 mil)
The funny thing is that before it actually opened every prognosticator was absolutely convinced that Titanic would be one of the most expensive flops in movie history.  Instead it dominated for five months and allowed Leonardo DiCaprio to continue making whatever he wanted to do.  James Cameron, meanwhile, never had a hit again.  (Kidding!)

2. Men in Black ($250 mil)
Will Smith continued his box office success, but more importantly he proved to have exceptional chemistry with Tommy Lee Jones (how is it that people are constantly surprised by how awesome Tommy Lee Jones is?), which was proven once again this year, even though Josh Brolin played the latter for most of it.

3. The Lost World: Jurassic Park ($229 mil)
Well, they are talking about making another of these, but to me it still seems bizarre that there was ever another Jurassic Park.  

4. Liar Liar ($181 mil)
It was safe to love Jim Carrey again.  In this one, he kicks his own ass!  

5. Air Force One ($172 mil)
Is this Harrison Ford's last great action movie?

6. As Good As It Gets ($148 mil)
Speaking of audiences remembering that they love someone, this time it's Jack Nicholson.  He rode the wave of this new acclaim for years.

7. Good Will Hunting ($138 mil)
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, in the reason they became ubiquitous.  Damon is still working his way back to this kind of material, but Affleck's back and directing movie people increasingly love.  Also, Robin Williams.

8. Star Wars (Special Edition) ($138 mil)
Perhaps it needs reminding that everyone loved George Lucas, even his incessant tampering, until the prequels.  There are always re-releases populating these box office results.  This is the only time one hits the top ten.

9. My Best Friend's Wedding ($127 mil)
Another star people remembered they loved!  That was apparently a theme of 1997.  This time, of course, it's Julia Roberts.  I wonder how much of this movie's success is actually owed to Cameron Diaz.  It's all good.

10. Tomorrow Never Dies ($125 mil)
Pierce Brosnan's second go-around as Bond (remember the rule: it's now true of every James Bond film that each one makes more than the last).

Other notable films: Face/Off ($112 mil; John Travolta agrees to participate in Nicolas Cage's craziest movie), Batman and Robin ($107 mil; I unabashedly enjoy this one), Con Air ($101 mil; in some ways the true start of Cage's run as an action star), Hercules ($99 mil; I think this is one of Disney's most inspired animated efforts), Conspiracy Theory ($75 mil; Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart, and Mel Gibson having a legitimate reason to freak out?), I Know What You Did Last Summer ($72 mil; by shifting the paradigm to the young cast rather than the psycho who kills them, the '90s finally figured out the horror genre), L.A. Confidential ($64 mil; this was pretty much the Usual Suspects of 1997, but I think it has been forgotten today), In & Out ($63 mil; Kevin Kline's last great movie?), The Fifth Element ($63 mil; I love this movie, too), Spawn ($54 mil; the fate of Image Comics rested on its ability to not only change the course of comics, but of the general public perception of them; this may be an indication of why Image eventually settled below the popular consciousness), Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery ($53 mil; people realized how much they loved this character only after his first movie appearance), Speed 2: Cruise Control ($48 mil; Sandra Bullock could not salvage a movie that probably should not have happened), G.I. Jane ($48 mil; Ridley Scott and Demi Moore attempt to make female action heroes cool), Alien Resurrection ($47 mil; they did not apparently know that the female action hero would not be popular that year), The Full Monty ($45 mil; though naked British gents were), Cop Land ($44 mil; Sylvester Stallone's last great movie?), Amistad ($44 mil; making John Quincy Adams into a movie star, among other things), Donnie Brasco ($41 mil; made the mob movie cool again), Jackie Brown ($39 mil; another Quentin Tarantino instant classic, at least as far as I'm concerned), Selena ($35 mil; the last time people took Jennifer Lopez seriously, and also the reason they stopped), Out to Sea ($29 mil; Brent Spiner in something notable other than Star Trek), Grosse Pointe Blank ($28 mil; with all due respect to Romy & Michelle, this was the best high school reunion movie of 1997), Boogie Nights ($26 mil; Paul Thomas Anderson puts filmmakers on notice), The Postman ($17 mil; Kevin Costner continues to strike out with his epics, although I love this one, too), Rosewood ($13 mil; turning Ving Rhames into a legend), Gattaca ($12 mil; one of the great sci-fi movies of the decade), Chasing Amy ($12 mil; Kevin Smith continues to make movies), U-Turn ($6 mil; Oliver Stone proving that he doesn't need Tarantino to make violence look cool), Steel ($1 mil; I liked this, too), The Van ($700 thou; Colm Meaney concludes his Irish Trilogy, which is great because he's Irish)

Notice that I'm slightly cutting back on the number of movies I slightly mention...

Source: Box Office Mojo

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Direct Current #26/Box Office 1996

ITEM!  Tony Laplume - Franco American without a home
In his writer's blog, Tony continues his studies of his French heritage, explaining his struggle to understand what that means.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Tony Laplume - Sangreal
Concluding (?) his look at his French heritage, Tony discusses the effect of watching Ron Howard's adaptation of The Da Vinci Code and how it may help him make peace with his conflicted past and future.  Also, these are the only ITEMs where Tony talks in the third person.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Hub City - Thoughts on Alexander the Great
Actually, if you don't know that Hub City is my reading blog, you could easily misinterpret that title and still be write, because I'm reacting as much to Robin Lane Fox's book as to the man, and even Oliver Stone's Alexander.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Hub City - Reading List: London the Biography
The next book I've started reading is by Peter Ackroyd, an author I discovered in the college bookstore my sophomore year and who has since been affirmed to be one of my favorites.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Marvel Now! Point One
Marvel is relaunching its line in the next few months.  This is a look at some of the smaller books with lesser known characters, including Nova, Ant-Man, and Forge, though some familiar faces appear, especially for those movie fans who enjoyed The Avengers.  The dude on the cover happens to be Nick Fury, in fact.

Read more here.


1996 is an odd little year that in some ways almost remains in a bubble to this day, which is unfortunate because there were a lot of good movies release that year...

1. Independence Day ($306 mil)
For years (and counting) there were rumors of a sequel, but the fact that this inspired the careers of disaster filmmakers probably means this now serves more as one of Will Smith's first blockbusters rather than the sensation it still is, filled with memorable performances and yes, a computer virus that stops an alien invasion.  Still one of my favorites.

2. Twister ($241 mil)
Now that Helen Hunt is in the movies again (The Sessions), people are remembering that she was an unlikely movie star.

3. Mission: Impossible ($180 mil)
It may be easy to forget that the movie that started the franchise (and provided us the memorable image of Tom Cruise dangling himself from the ceiling to avoid floor sensors) is ridiculously awesome, possibly because at the time a lot of people were just wondering if it weren't just ridiculously convoluted.  But no, it's ridiculously awesome.

4. Jerry Maguire ($153 mil)
Perhaps Cruise's best movie was released the same year (though most people remember it for Cuba Gooding Jr.'s moment in the spotlight).  It's no wonder that in later years the stress of trying to remain the most successful actor in Hollywood seemed to take its toll on him.

5. Ransom ($136 mil)
Mel Gibson in another big hit, though I'm not sure a lot of people remember it today, even though it left a pattern felt in some of his subsequent projects.

6. 101 Dalmatians ($136 mil)
I'll always kind of resent this one, a live action version of Disney's famed animation classic starring Glenn Close, since it opened at the same time as Star Trek: First Contact and possibly stole some of its box office success.  Though not in the way Nemesis was weakened by Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings six years later.

7. The Rock ($134 mil)
Perhaps Sean Connery's last great old man mentor role and also Nicolas Cage's first big action role.

8. The Nutty Professor ($128 mil)
Eddie Murphy's big comeback in which he plays completely against type, and then uses an old Jerry Lewis role to gloriously play exactly type.

9. The Birdcage ($124 mil)
Robin Williams took a huge risk with this one, and it was a huge success at the time, but I think it's been forgotten since.

10. A Time to Kill ($108 mil)
Was this the last John Grisham success?  Anyway, known better for starring Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, and Samuel L. Jackson in one of his first post-Pulp Fiction successes.

Other notable releases: The First Wives Club ($105 mil), Phenomenon ($104 mil; speaking of Pulp Fiction, John Travolta was pretty huge for a few years, though I wonder how many people remember these hits), Scream ($103 mil; the '90s finally gets its horror franchise), Eraser ($101 mil; seen as generic at the time, but that was not a generic total for Arnold Schwarzenegger, which probably means this is a film still waiting to be rediscovered), The Hunchback of Notre Dame ($100 mil; Disney's most unlikely animated flick ever), Michael ($95 mil; Travolta!), Star Trek: First Contact ($92 mil; my favorite movie of the year!), Space Jam ($90 mil; otherwise known as Michael Jordan meets Bugs Bunny), The English Patient ($78 mil; one of those controversial Best Picture winners at the Oscars, perhaps a little too artsy for the wide appeal it drew because of the honor), Broken Arrow ($70 mil; Travolta again!), Beavis and Butt-Head Do America ($63 mil; yes, this movie really happened; huh-huh), Jingle All the Way ($60 mil; Arnold doing comedy again), The Cable Guy ($60 mil; Jim Carrey in his famous "flop," playing the joke on the audience rather than with it), Courage Under Fire ($59 mil), Jack ($58 mil; Robin Williams in a movie from 1996 that is perhaps better off forgotten), Primal Fear ($56 mil; witness the brilliant debut of Edward Norton), Tin Cup ($53 mil; Kevin Costner tries to be likable again), Evita ($50 mil; Madonna at the time she begins to believe she's British, though not playing a Brit), The Preacher's Wife ($48 mil; Denzel Washington surprisingly is resistant to making a lot of movies where he's supposed to be liked), Romeo + Juliet ($46 mil; Leonardo DiCaprio slowly growing up), One Fine Day ($46 mil; George Clooney attempting to become a movie star), Happy Gilmore ($38 mil; Adam Sandler is brilliant in this one), Mars Attacks! ($37 mil; an overlooked Tim Burton masterpiece), Shine ($35 mil; the secret origin of Geoffrey Rush), Muppet Treasure Island ($34 mil; seriously, Muppets, why did you ever believe adapting known stories was the way to extend your franchise, and why did you continue after being relegated to TV movies?), Striptease ($33 mil; in which Demi Moore reveals she learned nothing from Showgirls), Rumble in the Bronx ($32 mil; in which Jackie Chan, International Sensation, begins), James and the Giant Peach ($28 mil; overlooked stop-motion movie magic), The Island of Dr. Moreau ($27 mil; in which critics finally decide to make a joke of Marlon Brando), That Thing You Do! ($25 mil; three years later I was attending the college where Tom Hanks filmed some of the scenes from this one), From Dusk Till Dawn ($25 mil; Clooney has his first notable film role in this Robert Rodriquez flick that also gives memorable roles to Quentin Tarantino and Salma Hayek), Escape from L.A. ($25 mil; Kurt Russell discovers that he can't force himself into being a huge movie star; see also Executive Decision), Fly Away Home ($25 mil; a well-respected live action family film), Kingpin ($25 mil; say hello to the Farrelly brothers), Fargo ($24 mil; in which the Coen brothers discover the deep south of the deep north), Sling Blade ($24 mil; in which Billy Bob Thornton becomes an unlikely movie star), D3: The Mighty Ducks ($22 mil), Emma ($22 mil; say hello to Gwyneth Paltrow!), The Quest ($21 mil; the full title also includes the unlikely phrase "of Jean-Claude Van Damme to be taken seriously as a filmmaker"), A Very Brady Sequel ($21 mil), High School High ($21 mil; still the most prominent movie to star the beloved Jon Lovitz), Multiplicity ($21 mil; Michael Keaton stars alongside Michael Keaton and Michael Keaton and...), Fear ($20 mil; the secret origin of Mark Wahlberg's acting career), The People vs. Larry Flynt ($20 mil; in which Woody Harrelson completes his transformation into a movie star), Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood ($20 mil; a parody title that is not as cool as it thinks it is), The Fan ($18 mil; Tony Scott and Robert De Niro in a movie everyone seems to assume must suck), The Crow: City of Angels ($17 mil; similarly, everyone seemed to assume this franchise had to suck without its star dying on the set, even though nobody cared about Brandon Lee before that), The Frighteners ($16 mil; it's a sign of Michael J. Fox's diminished appeal that he couldn't make a hit of a Peter Jackson film, but Elijah Wood can just five years later), Trainspotting ($16 mil; British cinema is suddenly very relevant and very cool), The Evening Star ($12 mil; this follow-up to Terms of Endearment was pretty much completely ignored even at the time), 2 Days in the Valley ($11 mil; the secret origin of Charlize Theron), Michael Collins ($11 mil; Liam Neeson plays an Irish hero and somehow doesn't make a big success of it), She's the One ($9 mil; though this is not the one to make Jennifer Aniston a movie star), Hellraiser 4: Bloodline ($9 mil), Celtic Pride ($9 mil; I think if Larry Bird had starred opposite Mickey Mouse in this movie, instead of Daniel Stern and Dan Ackroyd, it could have been a hit), The Crucible ($7 mil; Daniel Day-Lewis starred in this and nobody cared), Get on the Bus ($5 mil), Mary Reilly ($5 mil; Julia Roberts stars in a movie that actually made everyone wonder if she would ever be a star again; the funny thing is that this Jekyll/Hyde movie is pretty awesome), The Pallbearer ($5 mil; another NBC star, David Schwimmer, definitely never becomes a movie star), Stealing Beauty ($4 mil; Liv Tyler begins to be noticed), Hamlet ($4 mil; Kenneth Branagh makes a really long but really good adaptation of this frequently filmed Shakespeare screenplay), Swingers ($4 mil), Ed ($4 mil; Matt LeBlanc definitely does not become a movie star), Barb Wire ($3 mil; Pamela Anderson effectively removes herself from the running to become the next Marilyn Monroe), Crash ($2 mil; not to be mistaken for the later Oscar winner, unless you find strange car fetishes to be a worthy alternative to social commentary), Looking for Richard ($1 mil; Al Pacino's brilliant portrait of another Shakespeare project; it was a good year for the Bard), Bottle Rocket ($500 thou; secret origins for Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Direct Current #25/Box Office 1995

ITEM!  Tony Laplume - Tony did an interview!
In further developments from that one biographical comic he did (possibly more to follow), Tony talks in the third person about his self-titled author's blog, references a Franco American heritage he will in all likelihood write more about, and mentions an interview.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - The Next Generation 1x1/1x2 "Encounter at Farpoint"
This two-part episode introduces, well, the next generation of Star Trek stars, including Q, because he completely steals their first appearance, and he does so while wearing a ridiculous judge's outfit that he does not wear again until the final episode.  Also, Data attempts to whistle.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - The Next Generation 1x3 "The Naked Now"
Tasha Yar doesn't really get naked, but she also doesn't swing a fencing sword around either.  Data still remembers it at the end of the season, so that means you maybe ought to remember it, too.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Happy! #2 of 4
Grant Morrison maybe revisits Bat-Mite in this mini-series.  That's what I posit in this review.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, maybe you ought to:

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Justice League #13
Geoff Johns continues to define his take on the League by a heavy emphasis on Wonder Woman.  I like to point that out because apparently nobody else has noticed.

Read more here.


1995, brought to you by 2012.  If you don't get that by the time I'm done writing up the top ten, I'll explain it.  You'll smack your face.

1. Toy Story ($191 mil)
Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, who have still not starred in a live action movie together, make magic by playing a cowboy and a spaceman.  Only one of them has played that role with their face actually showing.  Tell me which one and I will write a poem for for.  Tell me how the above Google Affiliate Ad is ironic and I will write you two.

2. Batman Forever ($184 mil)
I was just watching Natural Born Killers the other day, and realized that that's the real secret origin of Tommy Lee Jones' Two-Face.  Also, Chris O'Donnell trades Al Pacino for Val Kilmer, and Nicole Kidman plays a Bat Girl.  But not Batgirl.  Jim Carrey co-stars, previewing The Cable Guy.

3. Apollo 13 ($172 mil)
Ha!  Take that, Tim Allen.  Hanks officially owns 1995.  However, Gary Sinese may remind him that glory comes with a price.  Actually, that's the second time Gary has tried to teach him that.  One of Ron Howard's best.

4. Pocahontas ($141 mil)
Say what you will about Disney, but instead of churning out fluff its newfound powers of animation started turning to some unlikely sources for inspiration.  There's something about colors of the wind involved with this one.

5. Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls ($108 mil)
Even though this one made more money, the first one was better.  Jim Carrey officially battles Tom Hanks for 1995 supremacy.  And they, too, have never shared the screen.  What's up with that?

6. GoldenEye ($106 mil)
Pierce Brosnan helps make James Bond history, not only by bringing the franchise back to the top ten, but by having the biggest gross to date.  That would only last two years.  In fact, Skyfall is well on its way to keeping the new tradition alive.  Each new Bond flick from this point forward earns more than the one before it.  No, really.

7. Jumanji ($100 mil)
Robin Williams brings a board game to life in order to stay relevant.  He did not share the secret of how to do that with Taylor Kitsch.

8. Casper ($100 mil)
The '90s were good to revive random pop culture properties into big hits.  This one is about the Friendly Ghost.  If it were done today, Casper would be a hunky dude, and would still play second banana to some chick.

9. Seven ($100 mil)
David Fincher's first big hit, starring Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, and a box.  Yes, Pitt is now a movie star.

10. Die Hard: With a Vengeance ($100 mil)
If Eddie Murphy had just been a little more disciplined starring in his own franchises, he too could have Bruce Willis's career, and have prosthetic effects alter the appearance of another character so they could be more like him.  Holy crap.  I just realized that The Nutty Professor was Eddie Murphy's Looper.

Anyway, so let's explain what I said earlier.  Toy Story 3 screenwriter Michael Arndt was recently announced as the scribe behind Star Wars Episode VII.  That's one.  GoldenEye was the first Bond after a lengthy hiatus, just like Skyfall.  That's two.  And if you can remind me about the third that I was thinking about while I was writing about the top ten, that would get you three poems.

Other notable movies: Crimson Tide ($91 mil; for some reason I always end up thinking of The Hunt for Red October when I think of this one, and I have no idea why), Waterworld ($88 mil; Kevin Costner next big historical flop, but I like it), Dangerous Minds ($84 mil; inspired a Coolio song and an Annie Potts TV show), Mr. Holland's Opus ($82 mil; Richard Dreyfuss continues to be awesome), While You Were Sleeping ($81 mil; Jesse James swears that he never heard of this movie), Congo ($81 mil; this was while people still thought every movie based on a Michael Crichton book would be a hit, just like all those John Grisham movies), Father of the Bride II ($76 mil; in which Steve Martin hangs out with a black chick; oh wait, that's another movie; this one's exactly like all his other movies from this period), Braveheart ($75 mil; when it was still socially acceptable to enable Mel Gibson's crazy people, who in this instance wears a skirt), Get Shorty ($72 mil; John Travolta in his last cool role), Grumpier Old Men ($71 mil; Kevin Pollack in his last cool role), The Bridges of Madison County ($71 mil; in which Clint Eastwood plays misty for himself), Mortal Kombat ($70 mil; too few people seem to realize how cool 1995 really was), Nine Months ($69 mil; that's exactly what Hugh Grant says), Outbreak ($67 mil; hey! it's another hit movie starring Dustin Hoffman!), Heat ($67 mil; famously starring Al Pacino and Robert De Niro together), Waiting to Exhale ($67 mil; is it safe yet? I only ask because I'm starting to get concerned), Bad Boys ($65 mil; don't blame Will Smith and Martin Lawrence being cool for Michael Bay's later success with giant mutating robots), Babe ($63 mil; about a pig), The American President ($60 mil; pilot for The West Wing), Species ($60 mil; surprisingly awesome), Twelve Monkeys ($57 mil; Terry Gilliam, Bruce Willis, and Brad Pitt collaborate on awesome), Clueless ($56 mil; this is as close to the '80s as the '90s got, as far as Breakfast Clubs go), Sabrina ($53 mil; Harrison Ford does not sell movies by being sensitive, but by being awesome), Something to Talk About ($50 mil; or what Julia Roberts does not accomplish with this film), The Net ($50 mil; Sandra Bullock should have stuck with unfortunate forecasts of her future in 1995, rather than things Al Gore would later claim he created), Under Siege 2: Dark Territory ($50 mil; no, seriously people, I hate you for knowing who Steven Seagal is, because he has never made a movie as cool as he is), A Walk in the Clouds ($50 mil; Hollywood tries so hard to get Keanu Reeves liked on a regular basis), The Brady Bunch Movie ($46 mil; well, at least this one was only a middling hit, but it still spawned a sequel), Casino ($42 mil; Martin Scorsese makes a stereotypical Martin Scorsese film, but is not as successful as when he did it with Goodfellas), Dead Man Walking ($39 mil; sometimes I think Sean Penn believes he became as righteous as this movie just by starring in it), Higher Learning ($38 mil; one of the great message movies set on a college campus), Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers ($38 mil; this franchise continues, but thankfully not on the big screen), First Knight ($37 mil; Richard Gere and Sean Connery learn the same lesson as King Arthur ten years earlier), To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar ($36 mil; one of the coolest movie titles ever), The Indian in the Cupboard ($35 mil; even though I loved the books, I never saw the movie), Money Train ($35 mil; brought to you by the campaign to recognize that Jennifer Lopez had a career before 2000), IJudge Dredd ($34 mil; ooh! another link to 2012!), Tommy Boy ($32 mil; Chris Farley's best), Leaving Las Vegas ($32 mil; Nicolas Cage in the last time anyone still believed in the veneer of his sanity), Rob Roy ($31 mil; Liam Neeson finally starts starring in his own movies), Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home ($30 mil; now they're even copping most of the title of the fourth Star Trek movie!), Friday ($27 mil; between this and Higher Learning, no wonder Ice Cube starting believing he was a movie star), Billy Madison ($25 mil; not Adam Sandler's best), Desperado ($25 mil; Robert Rodriguez does his version of cool, starring Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek), Operation Dumbo Drop ($24 mil; in all fairness, one of the least cool titles ever), Virtuosity ($24 mil; Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe eventually make up for this), The Usual Suspects ($23 mil; one of the best movies ever, and another reason why this was the last year Kevin Pollack was cool), Don Juan de Marco ($22 mil; Johnny Depp helps Faye Dunaway and Marlon Brando make their last great movies), To Die For ($21 mil; Nicole Kidman probably at the height of her cool), Showgirls ($20 mil; eternally not cool), Johnny Mnemonic ($19 mil; Keanu does not equal Neo, yet), The Quick and the Dead ($18 mil; one of my favorite movies, and one of the coolest Westerns ever), Devil in a Blue Dress ($16 mil; people used to talk about Denzel Washington being a wildcard James Bond, and this would be one of the reasons why), Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers ($15 mil), Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh ($13 mil), Nixon ($13 mil; Oliver Stone fails to make his subject as popular as he actually was at one point; no, seriously!), A Kid in King Arthur's Court ($13 mil), Highlander 3: The Final Dimension ($12 mil; if someone could make an actual hit from this franchise, they'd have to be considered a genius), The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain ($10 mil; another cool title), Dracula: Dead and Loving It ($10 mil; Mel Brooks not at his best but also not at his worst), Cutthroat Island ($10 mil; if Kevin Costner should feel any solace about Waterworld, it's that it was still a far bigger hit than Geena Davis's attempt to make people in 1995 love pirates), Nick of Time ($8 mil; then again, 1995 didn't love Johnny Depp, either, so who knows?), Strange Days ($7 mil; I still need to see this one, another early Kathryn Bigelow), Kids ($7 mil; 1995 being infamous), Mighty Aphrodite ($6 mil; classic Woody Allen cool titling), The Walking Dead ($6 mil; no relation to the TV show or comic book), Before Sunrise ($5 mil; indy classic), Four Rooms ($4 mil; flop collaboration between Tarantino, Rodriguez, and two other directors), Tank Girl ($4 mil), Othello ($2 mil; Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh making Shakespeare awesome), Richard III ($2 mil; Ian McKellen also rocking Shakespeare), Moonlight and Valentino ($2 mil; another cool title), Wild Bill ($2 mil; Jeff Bridges in an underrated Western), City of Lost Children ($1 mil), Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead ($500 thou; another historically cool movie title), 3 Ninjas Knuckle Up ($400 thou), Empire Records ($200 thou)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Direct Current #24/Box Office 1994

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Reading Comics #83 "Angry Faerie Con!"
This is half a report on my first comics con and the other half is about the comic that I picked up as a result, and both were pretty interesting.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Grant Morrison
I've compiled a whole page on my comics blog about the work of Grant Morrison, who has long been one of my favorite writers.  It lists his work and helpful links to what I've written about on the blog.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Cobra #18
The latest issue of this superlative series set in the G.I. Joe franchise features the Russian commandos the Oktober Guard and the Joe ninja Ronin, finally revealing her fascinating backstory.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x24 "First Flight"
Witness the time Archer and Trip met and how they managed to survive a dangerous collaboration to convince the Vulcans that humanity was finally ready to travel into deep space.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x25 "Bounty"
Archer discovers that the Klingons don't give up easy, finding a Tellarite eager to send him back to the Empire.  And if the Tellarite doesn't succeed, Robert O'Reilly is plenty eager to succeed in his place.  Don't remember the name Robert O'Reilly?  I'll remind you.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x26 "The Expanse"
The second season of Enterprise concludes with the Klingons making a last-ditch effort to bring Archer to their idea of justice even as the Xindi arc kicks off with a horrific attack on Earth.

Read more here.


1994 was the first year I began my practical association with movies, and I'm still grateful.  It was another very good year.

1. Forrest Gump ($329 mil)
The real winner from the success of Rain Man wasn't Dustin Hoffman but rather Tom Hanks, who all but based his best-known performance on the lasting effects of that film.  He won his second Best Actor honors from the Oscars thanks to Forrest.  And everyone still references life being like a box of chocolates because of it.  Because you never know what you're gonna get.  It is a shame, though, that this is still Gary Sinese's most notable screen appearance.

2. The Lion King ($312 mil)
Disney's biggest animation success prior to Pixar, this one represents the apex of the renewed push begun with The Little Mermaid five years earlier.  It's also the reason why Elton John entered into an entirely new phase of his career.

3. True Lies ($146 mil)
Arnold Schwarzenegger in another hit action movie, but again pointedly one that plays him against action movie type.

4. The Santa Clause ($144 mil)
For a moment, Tim Allen seemed like the king of all media.  He starred in the hit sitcom Home Improvement, wrote bestselling books (Don't Stand Too Close to a Naked Man, though my favorite is I'm Not Really Here), and successfully transitioned into the role of movie star with this innovative look at Christmas which soon began a franchise.  Clearly this would never end...

5. The Flintstones ($130 mil)
John Goodman achieves his greatest box office success playing Fred Flintstone.  Probably the funniest thing about this one.

6. Dumb and Dumber ($127 mil)
Jim Carrey in one of several hits in his breakout year.  I didn't actually see it until years later.

7. Clear and Present Danger ($122 mil)
Harrison Ford's second go-around as Jack Ryan is another success.

8. Speed ($121 mil)
Keanu Reeves might have been the recognized star of this one, but it's Sandra Bullock who undeniably reaped the greatest benefit from appearing in it.  Her first real success, of many more.

9. The Mask ($119 mil)
It's incredible, looking back, that Jim Carrey had all these movies lined up after Ace Ventura made him a star.  Now it just seems as if his success was meant to be, but of course he'd been trying to reach this point for more than a decade.  Also notable as Cameron Diaz's breakout film.

10. Pulp Fiction ($107 mil)
Quentin Tarantino's breakout moment, after Reservoir Dogs made his reputation and other filmmakers made his previous movies.  This is actually a movie that seems like it would have been a smaller success, but it's nice to note that audiences rewarded talent like this for a change.

Other notable releases: Interview with the Vampire ($105 mil; Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and vampires; incredibly this is a huge hit that actually became forgotten, until Twilight made vampires cool again), Maverick ($101 mil; Mel Gibson discovers a historical precedent for his brand of hero), The Client ($92 mil; another hit movie based on John Grisham), Disclosure ($83 mil; Michael Douglas and Demi Moore in another of those relationship thrillers), Star Trek: Generations ($75 mil; Kirk and Picard meet, and then Kirk dies), Ace Ventura: Pet Detective ($72 mil; some critics still won't acknowledge the genius of this one, also known as Jim Carrey's breakout role), Stargate ($71 mil; I still wish that more films would have followed, not several TV series), Legends of the Fall ($66 mil; 1994 was also Brad Pitt's breakout year as a popular star), Wolf ($65 mil; starred the Joker and Catwoman), The Specialist ($57 mil; Sly Stallone and Sharon Stone discover that this decade won't be too kind to them), Four Weddings and a Funeral ($52 mil; Hugh Grant discovers half of what will make him famous this decade), The Little Rascals ($52 mil), The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult ($51 mil; Leslie Nielsen's career starts to cool again, not that he'd notice, which is probably why he'd later portray Magoo), The Crow ($50 mil; big cult hit, partly because of Brandon Lee's tragic death on the set), Natural Born Killers ($50 mil; Oliver Stone directs a Tarantino script; another reason why Woody Harrelson inexplicably became a movie star), Angels in the Outfield ($50 mil; another of several '90s baseball movies starring kids), Little Women ($50 mil), When a Man Loves a Woman ($50 mil; providing hope to the careers of Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia), The River Wild ($46 mil; Meryl Streep in her periodic attempts to be a conventional movie star), D2: The Mighty Ducks ($45 mil), Timecop ($44 mil; JCVD in a sorta hit?!?), City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold ($43 mil), The Jungle Book ($43 mil), Beverly Hills Cop III ($42 mil; the law of diminishing returns hits Eddie Murphy's formerly reliable franchise), Nobody's Fool ($39 mil; Paul Newman continues to be a viable star), The Paper ($38 mil; Michael Keaton is still a star, sorta!), On Deadly Ground ($38 mil; seriously, people, Steven Seagal's career is your own darn fault), Richie Rich ($38 mil; Macaulay Culkin didn't star in Dennis the Menace, but he did this one), It Could Happen to You ($37 mil; yes, you too could be Nicolas Cage, be a respectable actor and then eventually become the star of movies people don't respect), Junior ($36 mil; Arnold discovers that the limit of playing against type includes male pregnancy), Nell ($33 mil; Jodie Foster in a role that people remember), Street Fighter ($33 mil; I seriously love this movie, but I guess I could see why others wouldn't), The Shadow ($32 mil; the irony is that if Alec Baldwin made this movie today, he'd probably have a greater chance of having a success on his hands), I Love Trouble ($30 mil; and audiences love movies starring Julia Roberts other than this one), Major League II ($30 mil), Blank Check ($30 mil; the kid who played Worf's son Alexander in Star Trek: The Next Generation starred in this one), A Low Down Dirty Shame ($29 mil; awesome movie title, belongs to a Wayans), In the Army Now ($28 mil; Pauly Shore quickly exits popular approval), The Shawshank Redemption ($28 mil; seriously only made that much; clearly did not have Andy Dufresne as its accountant), I.Q. ($26 mil; Walter Matthau plays Einstein), Wyatt Earp ($25 mil; Kevin Costner has a flop in one of his epic movies; wouldn't be the last time), Quiz Show ($24 mil), Blue Chips ($23 mil; Shaq becomes a movie star), Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ($22 mil; Robert De Niro is excellent as the monster), The Air Up There ($21 mil; Kevin Bacon teaches basketball to Africa), Reality Bites ($20 mil; first notable film from Ben Stiller), Speechless ($20 mil; Superman meets Batman, sorta), With Honors ($20 mil), The Professional ($19 mil; say hello to Luc Besson, Jean Reno, and some chick named Natalie Portman), Little Giants ($19 mil; kids in a football movie!), Wes Craven's New Nightmare ($18 mil; same as the old nightmare), My Girl 2 ($17 mil), The Madness of King George ($15 mil), The Pagemaster ($13 mil), Crooklyn ($13 mil), Bullets over Broadway $13 mil; this awesome title belongs to Woody Allen), Little Big League ($12 mil), 3 Ninjas Kick Back ($11 mil), The Ref ($11 mil; Denis Leary is all kinds of awesome, but movie star he is not), Cops and Robbersons ($11 mil; a title that awesome and starring Chevy Chase and Jack Palance, and still not a hit?), The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert ($11 mil; let's just say we bid hello to Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving, and leave it at that), The Next Karate Kid ($8 mil; Karate Kid, I know Hilary Swank, and you are no Hilary Swank), White Fang II: Myth of the White Wolf ($8 mil), Blankman ($7 mil), Hoop Dreams ($7 mil), Eat Drink Man Woman ($7 mil), North ($7 mil; Elijah Wood and Scarlett Johansson had bigger successes elsewhere, but I still remember the TV campaign for this movie; like I guess everyone else, still haven't seen it), Exit to Eden ($6 mil; it's confusing that Rosie O'Donnell and Dan Ackroyd in bondage gear did not translate to a hit), The Road to Wellville ($6 mil), Ed Wood ($5 mil; it's appropriate that even Tim Burton and Johnny Depp couldn't make an Ed Wood movie that people wanted to see), Airheads ($ mil; early Adam Sandler, but you could tell by the title, couldn't you?), Little Buddha ($4 mil; well of course Keanu Reeves would later star as the Zen master Neo), PCU ($4 mil; Jon Favreau, Jeremy Piven, David Spade?), Clerks ($3 mil; hello Kevin Smith!), Heavenly Creatures ($3 mil; Kate Winslet, Peter Jackson enter the limelight), The Hudsucker Proxy ($2 mil; the Coens are responsible for this particular awesome title), Double Dragon ($2 mil; a video game dud; who other than everyone but Hollywood would've figured?), Death Wish V: The Face of Death ($1 mil; this is the final entry in the series from Charles Bronson), Cobb ($1 mil; the glut of baseball movies did not mean people wanted to see Tommy Lee Jones as Ty Cobb), Police Academy 7: Mission to Moscow ($100 thou; this series finally ends; and then becomes a TV series), It's Pat ($60 thou; people really did not want to see a movie based on this particular Saturday Night Live character)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Direct Current #23/Box Office 1993

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Reading Comics #82 "Manny Trembley"
It only sometimes seems as if I only care about superheroes.  Manny Trembley does not do superheroes.  He specializes in awesome.  In this posting, I seriously compare him to some well-known names and projects, and specifically refer to his work on Hoss and Feffer.  Yes, he named a a couple of characters Hoss and Feffer.  It only gets better from there!

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Beyond the Fringe #1
I'm a big fan of the TV show Fringe, and this is one of the more recent comic books based on it, written by one of the stars (Joshua Jackson) and based on what happened to his character (Peter Bishop) after entering an ominous machine meant to reconcile one reality with its doppelganger.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x23 "Regeneration"
Depending on how you feel about the Borg, you may either love or hate this episode.  It may also depend on what you generally think about Enterprise itself.  "Regeneration" is just one of those experiences that opens up all kinds of thorny issues, and not in the way Star Trek is best known for.

Read more here.


1993 was another definitive link in the march to today's blockbusters, boasting a popular movie that could not have been previously possible (unless you really like Ray Harryhausen's work).

1. Jurassic Park ($357 mil)
Steven Spielberg was no doubt pretty important as a filmmaker before 1993, but it may be argued that his legacy really starts to solidify here, proving that he has lasting appeal and the ability to capture the popular imagination in increasingly varied ways.

2. Mrs. Doubtfire ($219 mil)
Robin Williams in a lot of ways could never truly top this one, playing the replacement nanny after he's kicked out of his own kids' lives.  I mean, where do you honestly go from there?

3. The Fugitive ($183 mil)
I think you'll agree that audiences tend to strongly suggest their disapproval for Hollywood's regular interest in remakes.  This is one of the notable exceptions.  It was a pretty big deal when it was a TV show, and Harrison Ford (as well as Tommy Lee Jones) manages to make the concept his own, making a blockbuster interpretation of it.

4. The Firm ($158 mil)
Tom Cruise helps make John Grisham a lasting household name.  Although ironically few people probably remember this film.

5. Sleepless in Seattle ($126 mil)
Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in a modern romantic classic.

6. Indecent Proposal ($106 mil)
There were so many movies like this...This one stars Demi Moore back before she was known as the ex-wife of Ashton Kutcher.

7. In the Line of Fire ($102 mil)
Clint Eastwood demonstrates that even in old age he can still get people to admire his action prowess.

8. The Pelican Brief ($100 mil)
Another movie based on Grisham, starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington.  Like The Firm, it meant a lot more to the career of Grisham than to the stars who helped power success adaptations of his work.

9. Schindler's List ($96 mil)
Spielberg also landed a cultural milestone with this look at the Holocaust, and helped launch the popular careers of Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson in the process.

10. Cliffhanger ($84 mil)
Famously considered to be Sylvester Stallone's comeback.  Well, history proves that to be a more elusive goal for the iconic action star.

More notable releases: Free Willy ($77 mil; far fewer Star Trek actors, same general movie, the start of another franchise), Philadelphia ($77 mil; Hanks and Washington score a more resonating hit with this one), Groundhog Day ($70 mil; one of Bill Murray's iconic movies), Grumpy Old Men ($70 mil; Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau hilariously reunite), Cool Runnings ($68 mil; Jamaican bobsledding!), Dave ($63; Kevin Kline in one of his iconic movies), Rising Sun ($63 mil), Demolition Man ($58 mil; Wesley Snipes stars in these last two movies, but I bet you only remember one of them, and Sly Stallone laughs right in Sean Connery's face, while Michael Crichton swears he was responsible for the year's biggest hit), Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit ($57 mil; even I've never seen this one, but that's no indication that Whoopi pushed her luck right out of stardom with this franchise alone), Tombstone ($56 mil; Kurt Russell plays Wyatt Earp), The Three Musketeers ($53 mil; responsible for that awesome "all for one" ballad, but not All 4 One), Rookie of the Year ($53 mil), Beethoven's 2nd ($53 mil; giant dog, not famous composer), Dennis the Menace ($51 mil; inspired by Macaulay Culkin, but does not star Macaulay Culkin; does, however, feature Walter Matthau), Last Action Hero ($50 mil; Arnold attempts to be generic action star again), Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas ($50 mil; Burton being awesome again), Addams Family Values ($48 mil), Wayne's World 2 ($48 mil) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III ($42; apparently feudal Japan is not an adequate substitute for New York as far as giant mutant turtles go), Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey ($41 mil), Hocus Pocus ($39 mil; amok! amok!), What's Love Got to Do with It ($39 mil; nothing much, though Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne feel it after appearing in this film; not so much Ike Turner), Hot Shots! Part Deux ($38 mil), Carlito's Way ($36 mil; Al Pacino in his latest gangster flick, co-starring Sean Penn, before he transitioned from being known for something other than Jerry Spicoli), Robin Hood: Men in Tights ($35 mil; Mel Brooks with his last great spoof), Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story ($35 mil), The Joy Luck Club ($32 mil), Hard Target ($32 mil; JCVD at it again), The Sandlot ($32 mil; kids started staring in a lot of movies thanks to Macaulay Culkin), Menace II Society ($27 mil), The Man Without a Face ($24 mil; around the release of The Passion of the Christ, some misinformed fans thought this fictional movie represented Mel Gibson's real life), Rudy ($22 mil; prior to becoming Samwise Gamgee, this was Sean Astin's main claim to fame), Much Ado About Nothing ($22 mil; Kenneth Branagh hits his Shakespearean stride), Coneheads ($21 mil; in which Dan Ackroyd discovers that the Coneheads are no Blues Brothers), Super Mario Bros. ($20 mil; in which Hollywood starts a long process of never figuring out that video games are not reliable sources for blockbuster movies), Another Stakeout ($20 mil), Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday ($15 mil; not likely!), Weekend at Bernies II ($12 mil), True Romance ($12 mil; Tony Scott achieves brilliance with a little help from Quentin Tarantino), Army of Darkness ($11 mil; sometimes cult hits really do start cult-sized), Gettysburg ($10 mil; I always thought this one had to be a much bigger hit), Robocop 3 ($10 mil), Look Who's Talking Now ($10 mil; yeah, no longer a viable franchise), What's Eating Gilbert Grape ($10; a giant mouth?), Leprechaun ($8 mil), The Meteor Man ($8 mil), Dazed and Confused ($7 mil), Six Degrees of Separation ($6 mil; Will Smith's first "hit"), Heaven and Earth ($5 mil; from Oliver Stone, looking at the native perspective on the Vietnam War), Batman: Mask of the Phantasm ($5 mil; based on the famed animated series), Surf Ninjas ($4 mil), Mr. Nanny ($4 mil), The Snapper ($3 mil; perhaps Col Meaney's finest film), Son of the Pink Panther ($2 mil; move along!), Kalifornia ($2 mil; pretty awesome), El Mariachi ($2 mil; say hello to Robert Rodriguez!), Ernest Rides Again ($1 mil; right out of the movies?), The Thing Called Love ($1 mil; River Phoenix and Sandra Bullock as aspiring country stars), Romper Stomper ($100 thou; say hello to Russell Crowe!)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Monday, November 12, 2012

Direct Current #22/Box Office 1992

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Reading Comics #81 "Essential Wolverine Vol. 2 #3"
Concluding my look at a massive collection of classic Wolverine comics, including the work Marc Silvestri was doing just before he helped launch Image.  Includes lots of Lady Deathstrike!

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Batman Incorporated #4
The latest from Grant Morrison's Dark Knight involves a lot of vigilantes but reminds the reader that at the heart of this story is the relationship between Bruce Wayne and his son Damian, who just so happens to have Talia Head, daughter of Ra's al Ghul, as his mother.  This is significant because Morrison has chosen Talia to be the big bad at the end of his sprawling saga.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Tony Laplume - Orbit: Mikhail Prokhorov gets press
In some ways this is just another plug for a comic book.  But this one's written by your very own Scouring Monk.  Turns out that publisher Bluewater has been getting the news out on this baby, and here I share what that looks like, which includes someone pointing out my factual errors...

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x22 "Cogenitor"
Enterprise's second season sports another new classic in Trip's biggest blunder as he unsuccessfully navigates the tricky cultural differences of a species Archer has just made successful first contact with.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Top 50 Star Trek Characters
Most of the characters I list here were series regulars who made their mark across a wide assortment of episodes and movies.  Some of them are memorable recurring characters.  Some of them are villains!  See where your favorites fell!

Read more here.


1992 was a pretty good year at the movies, too, with a lot of late '80s developments still working their way through the Hollywood system:

1. Aladdin ($217 mil)
While Beauty and the Beast was more critically acclaimed, Aladdin was the bigger hit, and made a more lasting impression, especially with the, no pun intended, ingenious voice casting of Robin Williams, which helped pave the way for name actors participating in future animated films.

2. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York ($173 mil)
Little kid gets left behind by his entire family...again!  Incredibly, it still works.  But history proved that it should have ended here.  Macaulay Culkin's participation wisely did, at least.

3. Batman Returns ($162 mil)
Tim Burton indulges his Goth instincts, makes the Penguin the star of the movie, making him as thoroughly unpleasant as possible.  Still, Catwoman was pretty awesome, and Christopher Walken is featured in a Batman movie.  If not for Tim Burton, would that have happened?

4. Lethal Weapon 3 ($144 mil)
Rene Russo joins the cast, wisely grounding Mel Gibson's crazy, making it that much more possible for the series to continue.  I would argue that Gibson needs a full family in the next one.  Although that clearly didn't work in real life...

5. A Few Good Men ($141 mil)
Jack Nicholson in one of his iconic performances steals the movie from young upstarts Tom Cruise and Demi Moore, inspires the TV series JAG, where no one ever calls to mind Jack Nicholson, much less the character Bud Roberts.  Although seriously, who doesn't love Bud Roberts?

6. Sister Act ($139 mil)
Agreeing to do Hollywood Squares was clearly the worst decision Whoopi Goldberg ever made.  Her career never recovered.  At one point she was the one making the funny rather than being the punchline.  No, seriously!

7. The Bodyguard ($121 mil)
Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston must have visited Whoopi's house or something, because they seemed to have fallen down the same rabbit hole.  I suspect Shadoe Stevens was involved.

8. Wayne's World ($121 mil)
Mike Myers has at least three iconic characters to his credit, and this is one of them.  Can you name the other two?

9. Basic Instinct ($117 mil)
Sharon Stone achieved immortality by crossing her legs.  No, seriously.

10. A League of Their Own ($107 mil)
I know that there are a lot of female stars in this movie that is most definitely a movie that stars a lot of female stars, but I still think of it as Tom Hanks essentially auditioning to play Woody.  "There's no crying in baseball!"

Other notable releases: Unforgiven ($101 mil; Clint Eastwood makes perhaps the last universally beloved Western), The Hand That Rocks the Cradle ($88 mil; in the '80s you could have a movie that no one remembers in the top ten; in the '90s you could float just below it; that's progress!), Under Siege ($83 mil; Steven Siegal in his most famous movie, although if you remember he was already somehow a star before it, meaning that a lot of people had already condoned his hairstyle), Patriot Games ($83 mil; Harrison Ford inherits the Jack Ryan series, ushers in another decade of hits), Bram Stoker's Dracula ($82 mil; Gary Oldman in one of his earliest radical reinventions), White Men Can't Jump ($76 mil; Wesley Snipes can't maintain his career, and Woody Harrelson improbably can), The Last of the Mohicans ($75 mil; Daniel Day-Lewis starts to get warmed up portraying historical Americans; it should be noted that he is not himself American), Boomerang ($70 mil; watch Eddie Murphy's grosses diminish!), Scent of a Woman ($63 mil; Al Pacino is not the good luck charm for Chris O'Donnell that Dustin Hoffman was for Tom Cruise), The Crying Game ($62 mil; made Neil Jordan a commodity), Far and Away ($58 mil; Cruise and Nicole Kidman make another movie together, and live happily ever after), Honey, I Blew Up the Kid ($58 mil), Death Becomes Her ($58 mil; Meryl Streep indulges her periodic urge to have some fun), Beethoven ($57 mil; about a dog, not the composer; becomes a franchise), Forever Young ($55 mil; stars Mel Gibson, written by J.J. Abrams), Alien 3 ($55 mil), My Cousin Vinny ($52 mil; Marisa Tomei in her breakout performance), Sneakers (51 mil; not about sneakers), The Mighty Ducks ($50 mil; inspired a franchise and an NHL team!), Malcolm X ($44 mil; Spike Lee's best film), A River Runs Through It ($43 mil), Encino Man ($40 mil; the answer to: how the heck did Pauly Shore become famous in the first place?), Universal Soldier ($36 mil; Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren could not make a hit between them, but they could inspire a franchise), Honeymoon in Vegas ($32 mil), The Lawnmower Man (32 mil), 3 Ninjas ($29 mil; inspired a franchise), The Muppet Christmas Carol ($27 mil; adapting literary works did not ultimately work out for the Muppets), Candyman ($25 mil; the 90's did not launch a successful horror franchise until the horror spoof Scream, which itself inspired a horror spoof franchise), The Cutting Edge ($25 mil; best figure skating movie ever!), Ferngully: The Last Rainforest ($24 mil), Hoffa ($24 mil; Geraldo discovered Hoffa's hidden tomb...or did he?!?), Toys ($23 mil; aside from other things, one of LL Cool J's early acting appearances), Thunderheart ($22 mil; Val Kilmer makes a movie I could later use as a reference to the great comic book series Scalped), The Babe ($17 mil; John Goodman as Babe Ruth), Buffy the Vampire Slayer ($16 mil; safe to say that Luke Perry probably inspired a lot of later cinematic vampire developments), Cool World ($14 mil; apparently not quite the success of Roger Rabbit), Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth ($12 mil), Glengarry Glen Ross ($10 mil), Chaplin ($9 mil; Robert Downey Jr. as Charlie Chaplin), Christopher Columbus: The Discovery ($8 mil), Mississippi Masala ($7 mil), 1492: Conquest of Paradise ($7 mil; audiences did not particularly care that this was the 500th anniversary of Columbus discovering America, or whatever it was that happened), Reservoir Dogs ($2 mil; and that's how much Quentin Tarantino's first movie made), Newsies ($2 mil; and that's how much people paid to watch a young Christian Bale sing), Bad Lieutenant ($2 mil; though apparently Tarantino should really not feel so bad, because that was the going rate for Harvey Keitel that year), Poison Ivy ($1 mil), Brain Donors ($900 thou; pretty funny tribute to Marx Brothers that came recommended to me through a comic book store clerk), Love Potion No. 9 ($700 thou; calling this Sandra Bullock's first hit doesn't quite sound right), Who Shot Patakango? ($2 thou; I have no idea, but suddenly I really want to know; spoiler: I still don't know, but Sandra Bullock is involved)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Direct Current #21/Box Office 1991

ITEM!  Examiner - Bone up on your James Bond(s)
With the release of Skyfall, 007 is back in business after four years.  But this is the fiftieth anniversary of the film franchise, and there have been six men to play the role.  If you're not very familiar with the lineage, this is a brief primer.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Artifacts #10 & Origins
Top Cow and Ron Marz have quietly built an entire mythology around thirteen totems of power, including signature characters Witchblade and the Darkness, but there's plenty more where that came from.  Here's a primer on another subject!

Read more here.

ITEM!  Hub City - Thoughts on Our Mutual Friend
The last completed book by Charles Dickens, and I nearly decided to spend all my reaction on the TV show Lost!  But there's a lot to think about on that score, not the least of which are the parallel fates of characters John Harmon and Bradley Headstone, and their island counterparts Jack and Locke.  But I end up talking about Dickens instead.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Hub City - Reading List: Alexander the Great
Who doesn't love a good Macedonian?  Anyone who fell to them in battle, or didn't love being absorbed into an empire.  And elephants.  I don't think elephants liked Macedonians.  Otherwise everyone does!  Or at least they should take them pretty seriously, not the least for Alexander.  He was great.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x21 "The Breach"
If you like Phlox and other assorted Denobulans, you may or may not like this one, as it's all Denobulans all the time, and that's not always a good thing.

Read more here.


1991 was the year Arnold Schwarzenegger had his first and only #1 hit.  Do you know what it is?

1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day ($204 mil)
The first modern blockbuster, full of awesome special effects.  It's pretty awesome.

2. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves ($165 mil)
Kevin Costner being a blockbuster movie star.  You know he made a cultural impact with this one when all anyone ever says about it is that he doesn't use an English accent.  That's the kind of negative press you can only get when people who don't care about something comment on it!

3. Beauty and the Beast ($145 mil)
Everyone was so surprised with the resurgent Disney animation whizzes that it actually received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.  That's the kind of respect only Pixar would be able to duplicate years later, however.

4. The Silence of the Lambs ($130 mil)
Probably still responsible for all the cop shows we still have, and very soon a TV spinoff of his own for Hannibal Lecter!  Not bad for a supporting character.

5. City Slickers ($124 mil)
Billy Crystal and the late Jack Palance deliver one of the more entertaining attempts by Hollywood to revive the Western.

6. Hook ($119 mil)
Spielberg returns to box office glory, Robin Williams play an adult Peter Pan, and probably the only thing anyone remembers about it is how awesome Dustin Hoffman was as the title character.

7. The Addams Family ($113 mil)
I suspect this became a phenomenon thanks to the emerging Goth culture instigated by Tim Burton.  But this was not Tim Burton.  It was Barry Sonnenfeld.  Burton himself tried to make this exact movie with Dark Shadows.  Except we already had this one, Tim.

8. Sleeping with the Enemy ($101 mil)
Julia Roberts has a hit being something other than a pretty woman.  Her career is assured!

9. Father of the Bride (89 mil)
Steve Martin duplicates his Parenthood success.  And later duplicates his Father of the Bride success with Cheaper by the Dozen.  And later duplicates his Cheaper by the Dozen success with...

10. The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear ($86 mil)
I hope you didn't interpret those ellipses to lead to this movie, because medical science has proven that Steve Martin is not Leslie Nielsen.  They just happen to be both old white dudes.  Although they've never appeared in the same movie...

Other notable movies: Fried Green Tomatoes ($82 mil; another hit chick flick? Hollywood you've deceived me), Cape Fear ($79 mil; Scorsese and De Niro reunite for a remake), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II ($78 mil), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country ($74 mil; Klingons! get your Klingons! with pepto bismol blood!), JFK ($70 mil; Oliver Stone, Coster, magic bullet), Hot Shots! (69 mil; Charlie Sheen!), What About Bob? ($63 mil; Bill Murray learns all about baby steps, drives Richard Dreyfuss crazy), The Last Boy Scout ($59 mil; Bruce Willis already had Die Hard, and now apparently wanted Lethal Weapon, too), My Girl ($59 mil; Dan Ackroyd mournfully plays a tuba), Boyz N the Hood ($57 mil), Doc Hollywood ($54 mil), Bugsy ($49 mil), New Jack City ($47 mil), The Rocketeer ($46 mil), Thelma and Louise ($45 mil; Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Brad Pitt, Ridley Scott), Point Break ($43 mil; Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Kathryn Bigelow), The Fisher King ($41 mil; Terry Gilliam, Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams), Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey ($38 mil; evil robot us's!), Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare ($34 mil; more lies from the horror genre!), White Fang ($34 mil), The Doors ($34 mil; Oliver Stone, Val Kilmer), King Ralph ($34 mil; it's an injustice that John Goodman has starred in so few movies), An American Tail: Fievel Goes West ($22 mil; incredibly, the last movie credit for James Stewart), The Neverending Story II ($17 mil), Hudson Hawk ($17 mil; an infamous flop for Bruce Willis), Highlander 2: The Quickening ($15 mil; a different edit removes those pesky aliens the few fans of this series worried about), Shipwrecked ($15 mil; one of the earliest movies I really enjoyed from my own lifetime), The Commitments ($14 mil; the Irish working class does American rock), Ernest Scared Stupid ($14 mil), Stone Cold ($9 mil; the wrestler Steve Austin took his famous nickname from this movie), My Own Private Idaho ($6 mil), Barton Fink ($6 mil), La Femme Nikita ($5 mil), Return to the Blue Lagoon ($2 mil), Kickboxer 2 ($1 mil; stars Sasha Mitchell, before a scandal ruined his career)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Direct Current #20/Box Office 1990

ITEM!  Tony Laplume - How to Write a Novel
Here's an account of how I figured out how to write novels, the process as it developed from 2004 to the present, and the steps I learned that got me where I am today.  This involves NaNoWriMo, which is nice, because November happens to be NaNoWriMo.  (Currently 20,000 words in the month on my WIP.)

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - After Earth: Innocence
A one-shot comic based on a forthcoming movie by M. Night Shyamalan.  Hopefully I begin a few thoughts that make you think something other than, "Ack!  Another movie by that hack!"

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x20 "Horizon"
One of the few episodes that center squarely on Travis Mayweather, the erstwhile Boomer who became one of the least utilized series regulars in franchise history.  This does not by any means serve as indication that you can skip this episode.

Read more here.


After the milestones of the previous year, what could 1990 possibly have to offer by favorable comparison?  Well, see for yourself...

1. Home Alone ($285 mil)
An instant classic of the family film genre, and something that no film (least of all most of the other entries in the subsequent franchise) has been able to duplicate.

2. Ghost ($217 mil)
The late Patrick Swayze achieved immortality with this one, and Demi Moore made a movie that could survive even Striptease.  It was pretty righteous.  Pottery wheels would never be the same.

3. Dances with Wolves ($184 mil)
Ah, so Kevin Costner officially begins his reign.

4. Pretty Woman ($178 mil)
Julia Roberts charms even as a hooker.  She is officially a star.

5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ($135 mil)
I get the Ninja Turtles thing.  I was a big Ninja Turtles fan.  I was also ten years old when this movie was released.  But if you were to tell me today that this movie was a hit and I didn't get it, I really wouldn't get it.

6. The Hunt for Red October ($122 mil)
I think this movie's success was based on the fall of the U.S.S.R., though the character of Jack Ryan and author Tom Clancy certainly didn't suffer in the years to come.  Perhaps starring Sean Connery didn't hurt, either.  I'm still sad that he walked away from acting ten years ago.

7. Total Recall ($119 mil)
Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes a bona fide action star after becoming a star thanks to a comedy, and it's pointedly in a movie that at least theoretically casts him against type once again.  I suppose being a top ten hit makes it that much more difficult to launch a successful remake.

8. Die Hard 2: Die Harder ($117 mil)
I think Bruce Willis made a mistake by making more Die Hards.  But it has since become a thread throughout his career, with another one in the works, so I won't protest too loudly.  It may yet be his lasting legacy.

9. Dick Tracy ($103 mil)
Though I'm pretty sure most people have forgotten this one, it was always one of the more notable releases of my youth, even if it remains something that probably could not be duplicated.

10. Kindergarten Cop ($91 mil)
Arnold: "It's notta tuma."  To me that's his most legendary line.

Other notable movies: Back to the Future Part III ($87 mil), Presumed Innocent ($86 mil; Harrison Ford before he quite becomes a post-Indy sensation), Days of Thunder ($82 mil), Another 48 HRS. ($80 mil), Three Men and a Little Lady ($71 mil), The Godfather Part III ($66; I submit to you that what really did in Michael Corleone wasn't Sofia Coppola but a momentarily ambivalence on the part of the movie-going public for what was soon to take over the entire film scene: constant and ongoing and increasingly popular revisits to favorite characters; and don't worry, Michael, Neo became the last one audiences really rejected, so you're not the biggest relative flop), Flatliners ($61 mil; just one of many attempts by Julia Roberts to shatter the mold of the pretty woman), Misery ($61 mil), Edward Scissorhands ($56 mil; another movie whose subsequent cultural impact would seem to indicate a bigger initial success), Problem Child ($53 mil), Arachnophobia ($53 mil; I still remember this as one of the earliest movies whose TV campaigns left an impression on me), Awakenings ($52 mil; a great film whose impact might have been dampened by the familiarity of Robin Williams in a serious role; one of the great Robert De Niro performances), Look Who's Talking Too ($47 mil), Hard to Kill ($47 mil; say hello to Steven Seagal), Goodfellas ($46 mil; I think part of the reason people like this Martin Scorsese effort so much is that it was the first time he was recognizable as a filmmaker in a decade), Marked for Death ($46 mil; Seagal again!), Robocop 2 ($45 mil), Young Guns II ($44 mil), Gremlins 2: The New Batch ($41 mil), Rocky V ($40 mil; again, franchise fatigue years before audiences learned to love it and demand sequels be split into two parts...just because), Joe Versus the Volcano ($39 mil; Tom Hanks attempts to make that transition to serious material), Postcards from the Edge ($39 mil; based on a novel by Carrie Fisher), Darkman ($33 mil; I wrote a whole series on the painful development of the superhero/comic book movie genre, and this was part of it), Predator 2 ($30 mil; tellingly, does not feature Arnold), Child's Play 2 ($28 mil), The Rescuers Down Under ($27 mil), Ernest Goes to Jail ($25 mil), Ghost Dad ($24 mil; Bill Cosby discovers that he is not the king of all media), The Freshman ($21 mil; another reason for Al Pacino not to feel so bad: the original Godfather, Marlon Brando, lampoons his most famous role, to little cultural impact), Hamlet ($20 mil; Mel Gibson in one of his finest and least expected performances, although to be fair, the title character is pretty crazy), Jetsons: The Movie  ($20 mil), Duck Tales: The Movie ($18 mil), Tremors ($16 mil), Mo' Better Blues ($16 mil), The Bonfire of the Vanities ($15 mil; Hanks and Willis), Cinema Paradiso ($11 mil), The Two Jakes ($10 mil; Jack Nicholson does Pacino and Brando one better by making a flop of the sequel to Chinatown), Almost an Angel ($6 mil; Paul Hogan is pretty good in this), Miller's Crossing ($5 mil; Coen brothers at it again)

Source: Box Office Mojo


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