This weekly series highlights the best opening weekends since 1980.
Shining in the spotlight this edition: one of the best thrillers ever, Romeo + Juliet with vampires & werewolves, 2 underrated Jake Gyllenhaal hidden gems, a frightening smash hit from the 80s, a video game movie, an amazing recent film noir, one of the best worst movies ever made, and Take 5: Cult Classics.
- note: box office figures are domestic and are not adjusted for inflation
- warning: there is MATURE CONTENT in this post… blame the best worst movie of all time
SE7EN – 1995
OPENING WEEKEND: $14 million // BOX OFFICE TOTAL: $100 million
Happy 20th Birthday to one of the greatest thrillers ever made. David Fincher soaks the edges of the frame with atmosphere. Shocking and brutal, this violent crime story about the 7 sins from the Bible isn’t for everyone. Morgan Freeman stars with Brad Pitt, in the movie that helped make them both stars.
Check out the box office. That’s what word of mouth does. With inflation, the box office total would be even more impressive.
UNDERWORLD – 2003
OPENING: $22 million // TOTAL: $52 million
Vampires vs werewolves with hyper-stylized gunplay. The story owes a lot to Romeo + Juliet. Over-the-top comic book action is the main draw here. Add in some cool creature FX and Kate Beckinsale in tight leather, and you get a box office success spawning several sequels. This is a fun b-movie done right.
PRISONERS – 2013
OPENING: $21 million // TOTAL: $61 million
A remarkable hidden gem. This underrated thriller stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman in a story about child kidnapping. Jackman plays a father bent on revenge, while Gyllenhaal plays the cop on the case. This complex mystery will test your own ethics. A brilliant dark adult thriller with astounding performances.
END OF WATCH – 2012
OPENING: $13 million // TOTAL: $41 million
Here is another underrated Jake Gyllenhaal thriller. Once again he plays a cop, but a much more traditional one. His partner is played by Michael Pena. Filmed almost like a documentary by David Ayer (FURY, SUICIDE SQUAD), this gritty drama is focused on realism. While a character piece, there are a lot of intense moments and some good action sequences.
FATAL ATTRACTION – 1987
OPENING: $8 million // TOTAL: $157 million
What an incredible opening to total ratio – and this is before inflation! This adult thriller was a massive R-rated smash hit starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close. Considered as a horror movie for guys, this is one of the scariest obsessive relationships ever put to film. Aside from the steamy sex sequences, there is some incredible mounting tension and truly frightening realistic moments.
RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION – 2007
OPENING: $24 million // TOTAL: $51 million
The worldwide box office for this horror / action / video game adaptation franchise is stellar. That’s why there are so damn many of these crazy stylish zombie movies. Milla Jovovich is one of the best female action heroes out there. Once again she’s more than a match for the apocalypse.
L.A. CONFIDENTIAL – 1997
OPENING: $5 million // TOTAL: $65 million
An excellent film noir character piece starring Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, and Kim Basinger. The acting, writing, and directing are all top notch. When it comes to adult thrillers, they don’t get much better than this. Check out that box office. What a leap for a small indie film. This amazing crime story got a lot of Award attention at the time and made a star out of Russell Crowe.
SHOWGIRLS – 1995
OPENING: $8 million // TOTAL: $21 million
This big stinker is one of the best worst movies ever made. Massively hyped at the time, it tanked at the box office, but made a ton of money on home video. I guess people wanted to watch this one in the privacy of their own homes for some reason.
While a big bomb, the film was made on a big budget with an A-list director. Paul Verhoven made some great genre movies (BASIC INSTINCT, TOTAL RECALL, STARSHIP TROOPERS), but none were such a blast to make fun of like this thriller/drama/comedy(?).
Elizabeth Berkely was coming off of 90s TV kid’s show SAVED BY THE BELL, and wanted to make a drastic change to her peachy clean image. Job well done.
Despite its bad reputation, this trashy b-movie is worth watching.
The #1 opening This Weekend in History was RUSH HOUR with $33 million in 1998. This action comedy went on to make $141 million overall, good enough to extend this franchise with 2 sequels. Jackie Chan brought his martial arts and crazy stuntwork to Chris Tucker’s hilarious fast quips. One of the best buddy action flicks in recent memory.
FEARLESS – 2006
OPENING: $11 million // TOTAL: $25 million
Jet Li stars in this beautifully photographed period-set action movie. There are some truly epic fight scenes. While definitely one to watch for martial arts fans, there is actually a story and some solid drama as well.
THE PROGRAM – 1993
OPENING: $7 million // TOTAL: $23 million
James Caan leads up a football program in this intense drama. Controversial at the time, for its brutal depiction of what goes on in training and recruitment of these young and impressionable athletes. One of the great lesser known sports movies. Co-starring Craig Sheffer, Kristy Swanson (the original BUFFY), Omar Epps, and Halle Berry.
URBAN LEGEND – 1998
OPENING: $11 million // TOTAL: $38 million
Coming off of the success of SCREAM, the late 90s had a few successful slasher movies. This one also had that creative twist of spinning pop culture on its head, this time with popular urban legends. It was fun and intense enough to warrant a couple of sequels. Horror fans should enjoy the pure 90s vibe. NERD ALERT: Watch out for Jared Leto.
JENNIFER’S BODY – 2009
OPENING: $7 million // TOTAL: $16 million
Diablo Cody’s follow up to Oscar nominated JUNO is another story set in high school. This one is less John Hughes and more Wes Craven. Megan Fox stars as the popular girl who gets possessed by a demon. Amanda Seyfried stars as our hero. The comedy is pitch black, and not everyone’s cup of tea. Some of the laughs are very sarcastic and acidic. This is one of the few enjoyable performances by Fox.
THE GOOD SON – 1993
OPENING: $13 million // TOTAL: $45 million
Macauly Caulkin was another child star trying to change his image. He just went a different route than Elizabeth Berkley. This thriller is like a realistic take on THE OMEN. Caulkin plays the villain, up against another child star, Elijah Wood. Dark and violent, the psychological elements were actually pretty intriguing. An interesting cult classic, especially for those who only know Caulkin from HOME ALONE.
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