SLIP/THROUGH presents a weekly column called THIS WEEKEND IN BOX OFFICE HISTORY, featuring the best openings of weekends past.
Each week, several movies will shine in the spotlight. These selections reach as far back as 1980. Each selection will have a brief nerdy bit to certify its inclusion.
This time we’ll look at some great science fiction films from the past few decades, including an underrated cult classic, and a surprise box office hit that reached a hungry demographic.
Let’s look back to the biggest openings in recent history for the 2nd weekend of July.
* keep in mind, these box office totals aren’t adjusted for inflation *
INCEPTION – July 16, 2010
Opening Weekend: $63 million // Box Office Total: $293 million
Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending original sci-fi flick required audience participation. And it was well worth it. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a special agent who can enter the dreams of other people. This concept is brilliantly put to effect in the confines of the secret agent sub-genre. It breaks those confines, becoming a completely unique summer blockbuster that made you think while you were entertained by mind-blowing visuals and exciting action sequences.
X-MEN – July 14, 2000
Weekend: $54 million // Total: $157 million
Remember when I mentioned inflation earlier? With increased ticket prices and extra costs for 3D or Imax, these older films don’t seem as impressive as they really are. Through to the 90s, making $200 million was considered really impressive. That’s why we saw so many more superhero films after X-MEN opened the door. This comic book movie took itself seriously. It even opened with a flashback sequence during the Holocaust — not your typical kid stuff.
Plus, this super fun action flick brought us Hugh Jackman, who has since become one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
GHOST – July 13, 1990
Weekend: $12 million // Total: $218 million
$200 million is impressive. And this was a decade before X-MEN. Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore star in GHOST, one of the biggest romantic movies ever made. The supernatural elements really accentuated the fantasy of romance films. The box office results show that more than women came out to see GHOST. Look to the small opening weekend. This was the day and age of traditional word of mouth. Slowly, over the course of the summer everyone saw this emotional film.
CONTACT – July 11, 1997
Weekend: $21 million // Total: $101 million
Jodie Foster stars in this underrated sci-fi drama. She listens to satellites aimed at the stars, hoping for alien contact. What makes this movie stand out is the focus on realism. Thanks to author Carl Sagan, you totally believe it when Foster finally discovers a message from another world. CONTACT is one of my favourite science fiction films ever made — emphasis on science.
Director, Robert Zemeckis, is a true visionary who consistently pushes the edges of cinematic technology. His work alongside a stellar cast (including Matthew McConaughey, Tom Skerritt, and Angela Bassett) and an amazing story means you should not let CONTACT slip through the cracks.
The opening box office record holder for the second week of July is HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HOLLOWS: PART 2.
It debuted with on July 15, 2011 with an opening weekend of a whopping $169 million dollars. By then of its run, the final HARRY POTTER film made $381 million domestically. While I’m not a fan of these stories, this franchise captured the imagination of an entire generation. They flooded the cinema to say their goodbyes.
Unfortunately, this film performed so well that other franchise began to split their movies into two parts.
Stay tuned for the next WEEKEND IN BOX OFFICE HISTORY.
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Check out the companion article over at TALEOFTWODANS.COM
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