This series looks at the biggest opening weekends for the month since 1980. If it made the Top 200, it has a chance to appear here.
This Weekend in History highlights a well-received serious horror movie, a recent hit Western, a comedy ahead of its time, a sports drama with then unknown / now well known actors, a stinker that marked the end of an action hero’s reign, and 5 Cult Classics.
The Top 200 of September doesn’t have many giant blockbuster hits. Like August, this month is a traditional dumping ground for Hollywood. The box office grosses aren’t nearly as high as your typical month. That said, this series combs through the best of the rest. There are a few nerdy titles worth watching / remembering.
* note: box office figures are domestic and are not adjusted for inflation *
THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE – Sept. 9, 2005
OPENING WEEKEND: $30 million // BOX OFFICE TOTAL: $75 million
Here is the Number 1 movie for This Weekend in History, ranking #10 overall for the month. This surprise horror hit tackles the subject matter of demonic possession from supernatural and scientific points of view. It’s refreshing to have a thrilling movie like this played off as real and be just as terrifying. Whether you believe in demons or not, this terrifying character drama will keep you captivated. This compelling film also features stand-out direction and impressive performances from Jennifer Carpenter (DEXTER, QUARANTINE) and Tom Wilkinson.
3:10 TO YUMA – Sept. 7, 2007
OPENING: $14 million // TOTAL: $54 million
Russell Crowe and Christian Bale team up for this Western involving a train robbery. While slow at times, the action is beautifully crafted. The 2000s haven’t seen too many quality Westerns, although this year has a couple big ones on the horizon. Until then, watch one of the genre’s best recent entries.
TO WONG FOO, THANKS FOR EVERYTHING! JULIE NEWMAR – Sept. 8, 1995
OPENING: $9 million // TOTAL: $36 million
This cult smash was way ahead of its time. Masculine action heroes, Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes, lead the way in the this Drag Queen road trip comedy. The audience rewarded this bold film. The box office might not seem so impressive, but this was 20 years ago. $50 million was a big success then. The performances are a real highlight, but so are the laughs. While the movie has a message too, it’s most memorable for how fun it was.
WARRIOR – Sept. 9, 2011
OPENING: $5 million // TOTAL: $14 million
Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton starred in this before they were on their way to becoming household names. This summer both of these rising stars had great success, with MAD MAX and THE GIFT, respectively. This sports drama follows brothers competing in the same MMA tournament. The sequences in the octagon are so intense, filmed with a sportscast sense of realism. This movie was a quality surprise. Watch out for a great supporting performance from Nick Nolte too.
FIRE DOWN BELOW – Sept. 5, 1997
OPENING: $6 million // TOTAL: $16 million
90s action hero Steven Seagal saw his run of hits come to an end with this stinker. Known for his fast martial arts skills, Seagal started to take his work too seriously. While being a b-movie star, he seems to have envisioned himself as an Oscar worthy dramatic type, inserting heavy-handed messages into his movies. This was just the beginning of that unfortunate trend.
STIR OF ECHOES – Sept. 10, 1999
OPENING: $6 million // TOTAL: $21 million
Kevin Bacon stars in this super creepy atmospheric horror. The scares were slow and deliberate, working its way under your skin. David Keopp (screenwriter of JURASSIC PARK) directs the proceedings in this underrated supernatural horror flick. Worth the watch for fans of the genre.
BULLETPROOF – Sept. 6, 1996
OPENING: $6 million // TOTAL: $22 million
One of my favourite Adam Sandler movies. I grew up with him on SNL, and laughed my way through his CDs numerous times. This R-rated action comedy co-starred Damon Wayans and helped make Sandler a household name. This was way before his family movie days.
For fans of sophmoric R-rated Sandler, but also fans of buddy action flicks. Hilarious, quotable, and well worth the watch.
CITY BY THE SEA – Sept. 6, 2002
OPENING: $9 million // TOTAL: $22 million
Robert DeNiro stars in this drama / thriller hybrid. It’s memorable for James Franco in an early role. He was quite intriguing in this character piece. While this indie gem divided the critics and audience, it’s worth watching, especially for fans of Franco’s more serious acting roles.
STIGMATA – Sept. 10, 1999
OPENING: $18 million // TOTAL: $50 million
Patricia Arquette stars in this religious horror movie. She begins to experience supernatural afflictions, like bearing the wounds of Christ. This film would probably do really well in today’s market. Check out those numbers. Gabriel Byrne also stars in this stylized and intense popcorn muncher. Worth the watch for today’s fans of demonic possession movies.
CELLULAR – Sept. 10, 2004
OPENING: $10 million // TOTAL: $32 million
Chris Evans starred in this action thriller a few years before he donned the shield as Marvel’s Captain America. His co-star was another rising action star, the one and only Jason Statham. This was actually a good straight-forward low-budget action flick. It was intense, and had good performances for the genre, including co-star Kim Basinger. The simple premise drives what is essentially a chase for the entire runtime.
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