The third weekend of July gave us the second biggest opener of the month (since the 80s) — one of the best comic book movies ever. This Weekend in Box Office History also brought us one of the best science-fiction films ever made.

Highlighted films from Top 200 will be accompanied by a quick nerdy blurb.

If you enjoy this weekly column, make sure to check out its companion piece over at TALE OF TWO DANS.

There is a totally different set of movies shining in the spotlight over at 2D’s Box Office Rewind.

This July saw two new entries break into the Top 200. MINIONS cracked the Top 5 July openings, with $115 million last weekend. While lambasted by some critics, TERMINATOR: GENISYS still managed to squeeze into history at #75 with $27 million.

This week two great cult classics and one big box office bomb from a much-hated director will also share the spotlight of This Weekend in Box Office History.

Remember, these figures aren’t adjusted for inflation. A $200 million box office total was really impressive 20 – 30 years ago. 

He Who Laughs Last

THE DARK KNIGHT – July 18, 2008

OPENING WEEKEND: $158 million   //   BOX OFFICE TOTAL: $533 million

Christopher Nolan directs Heath Ledger in his Oscar winning performance as the Joker. Nolan’s “serious” vision influences every moment. We get great performances, intense action sequences, and playful anarchy. The opening heist sequence is one of the best openings ever. This scene instantly establishes the mood, while introducing us to our chaotic antagonist.

They say a movie is only as good as its villain… DARK KNIGHT is living proof of that statement.

ALIENS – July 18, 1986

WEEKEND: $10 million   //   TOTAL: $85 million

James Cameron was a hot property, coming off writing and directing the cult smash hit TERMINATOR. He decided to make a sequel to Ridley Scott’s ALIEN next. Instead of isolation and sheer horror, Cameron shifted the focus to military based action. Even with tons of guns, the marines are no match for the Aliens. It’s soaked in horror, and drenched with memorable one-liners.

ALIENS is one of the best science ficton films ever made, with a surprising focus on emotional character work. Don’t let this legendary film slip/through the cracks.

“I did a bad, bad thing.” – That song. That trailer… Amazing.

EYES WIDE SHUT – July 16, 1999

WEEKEND: $22 million   //   TOTAL: $56 million

Stanley Kubrick’s final film vivisects marital relationships. Notorious for taking so long to shoot, and starring real life couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, EYES WIDE SHUT rose far above its negative criticism. Controversial in nature, eerie in atmosphere, WIDE is hard to shake. Kubrick frames each shot with purpose, and dedicates careful measure to pacing. This film will haunt you and make you reflect introspectively.

The surprise here is that an arthouse film made so much on its opening weekend.

BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY – July 19, 1991

WEEKEND: $10 million   //   TOTAL: $38 million

One of my favourite duos of all time, return for another excellent adventure. This time our affable goofballs travel to the underworld and face Death. While they’re in limbo, evil robot versions of themselves take their place, as they try and win their freedom back to reality by challenging Death to games like chess, Battleship, and Twister.

This guilty pleasure starring a young Keanu Reeves delivers laugh after laugh… while totally encapsulating the 90s, dude.

THE ISLAND – July 22, 2005

WEEKEND: $12 million   //   TOTAL: $36 million

Here’s a highlighted bomb. Every now and again a big budget movie tanks at the box office. Michael Bay’s THE ISLAND takes the cake this week in history. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johannson star in this sci-fi action adventure. I actually thought this was one of Bay’s better films. We still get totally gonzo action scenes, but the concept also gives you something to think about. And the characters aren’t one dimensional and wooden… for once.

If you dismissed THE ISLAND because of it’s reputation as a stinker (or Bay’s involvement), I’d say give it a shot.

The record holder for This Weekend in Box Office History is THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, debuting on July 20, 2012 with $161 million – good enough for 2nd overall this month. It went on to make $448 million domestically, almost $100 million lower than its predecessor with the Joker. While it’s nearly impossible to match the second of the Nolan trilogy, RISES still had a couple of great sequences, like the opening on the plane with Bane.

UPDATE: This weekend got two new entries. ANT-MAN continues Marvel’s long streak of Number Ones with $57 million, earning it slot #22. A surprise addition is the new Judd Apatow / Amy Shumer comedy TRAINWRECKED with $31 million, placing it at #65.

Stay tuned for the conclusion to July’s best opening weekends since 1980.

What do you think?

Leave a comment below.

Don’t see your favourite movie here? Maybe it’s in the companion article over at

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