THIS WEEKEND IN BOX OFFICE HISTORY – September: Part 4

This series highlights the best opening weekends since 1980.

This Weekend in History features Denzel kickin’ some ass, a crazy time travelling action flick, Daniel Day Lewis: the action hero, a touching comedy about Cancer, Meryl Streep: the action hero, a surprise 80s hit phenom, and 5 Cult Classics.

If a movie made the Top 200 list it has a chance of appearing here. If you don’t see your favourite film here it could be in the companion piece over at A TALE OF TWO DANS.

  • note: box office figures are domestic and are not adjusted for inflation


THE EQUALIZER – 2014

OPENING WEEKEND: $34 million   //   BOX OFFICE TOTAL: $102 million

Denzel Washington takes his turn as an ass-kicking Liam Neeson in this remake of the old television show. Antoine Fuqua directs the action with amazing style. A solid story and some good characters (like Chloe Grace Moretz) makes the first two acts really impressive. While the final act verges more into cliche, the movie as a whole is worth watching for action fans.


LOOPER – 2012

OPENING: $21 million   //   TOTAL: $66 million

Joseph Gordon-Levitt reunites with director, Rhian Johnson, for a time-traveling action flick. Their earlier film BRICK was an amazing hidden gem high school film noir. This time, Levitt plays the younger version of Bruce Willis’ character – a hitman who kills his targets in the past. Scifi nerds are in for some really cool twists on the familiar time-travel sub-genre.

NERD ALERT: See what Johnson’s movies are like before his STAR WARS: ROGUE ONE comes out.

PLUS: Emily Blunt with a shotgun.


THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS – 1992

OPENING: $11 million   //   TOTAL: $76 million

Daniel Day Lewis stars in this dramatic adventure film. Big production values and beautiful photography helped this historical action movie crossover into mainstream success. Check out those box office numbers for over 20 years ago. This amazing story about Native Americans paved the way for other historical adventures like BRAVEHEART.


50/50 – 2011

OPENING: $9 million   //   TOTAL: $35 million

This tragic comedy is based on a true story. Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star as best friends. Their relationship develops in unexpected ways when Levitt gets Cancer. Somehow the drama and comedy were perfectly balanced in this hidden gem. Levitt delivers an astounding emotional performance, going through the range of emotions along his sensational character arc.


THE RIVER WILD – 1994

OPENING: $10 million   //   TOTAL: $47 million

Meryl Streep is an action hero… at least, in this 90s white water rapids rafting movie. She tries to save her group from Mother Nature and Kevin Bacon’s bad guy. This was an intense ride that performed rather well at the box office (for 20 year ago). This underrated and forgotten film definitely deserves to get mentioned more often.


CROCODILE DUNDEE – 1986

OPENING: $8 million   //   TOTAL: $175 million

Holy Australian takeover, Batman! Check out those box office numbers on this 80s phenom! This proves the power of word of mouth. This fish-out-of-water comedy stars an Outback outdoorsmen and a city girl. Here we get pure and simple fun playing off prejudices.

Would this film perform as well today? Back then, audiences took more risks. With less options to watch movies, ticket buyers would take a chance on a silly comedy. Whereas today, we’re more likely to sit on the fence and catch a movie we’re hesitant about on Netflix or something.


TAKE 5


SERENITY – 2005

OPENING: $10 million   //   TOTAL: $26 million

Happy 10th Birthday! Joss Whedon’s sci-fi Western hybrid TV series, FIREFLY, hit the big screen pleasing fanboys everywhere. Unfortunately, nobody else saw this movie – which is a real shame. This playful series and movie combines the best of STAR WARS with steam-punk elements and a larger focus on comedy. Just pure nerdy fun!

NERD ALERT: Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the villain here, years before his Oscar nominations.


DON’T SAY A WORD – 2001

OPENING: $17 million   //   TOTAL: $55 million

Brittany Murphy stars alongside Michael Douglas in this Girl Power thriller. The impressive opening was a surprise at the time. However, the marketing with Murphy creepily chanting the title really got under your skin. This was a sign of her potential as a leading woman. Tragedy ended Murphy’s career far too soon.


HALLOWEEN 5: THE CURSE OF MICHAEL MYERS – 1995

OPENING: $7 million   //   TOTAL: $15 million

Low box office results signified the ending of this slasher franchise. Debuting in the late 70s, this horror series continues to this day. This particular entry focused on a little girl as our hero, instead of a babysitter. While Danielle Harris is great in the role, the decision to shift the story to her character for a couple of sequels didn’t latch on to viewers.

As bad as it sounds, these slasher movies are beloved because a masked killer kills teenagers (the main audience for this genre). By moving away from this element and shifting more to the supernatural, HALLOWEEN lost a lot of its horror.

NERD ALERT: Paul Rudd has a co-starring role, long before he was a comedic actor or ANT-MAN.


INTO THE BLUE – 2005

OPENING: $7 million   //   TOTAL: $19 million

This Paul Walker and Jessica Alba action flick was a much bigger hit on video. Perhaps that has to do with the “Pause” button. This hot island thriller doesn’t break the action genre mold, but it delivers on the thrills and excitement. It’s also one of Walker’s better non-FAST & FURIOUS movies.

This might be best known for some underwater swimming scenes, but the film has more to offer than some skin… at least, a little more.

This cult classic is a guilty pleasure worth watching.


THE EDGE – 1997

OPENING: $8 million   //   TOTAL: $28 million

Anthony Hopkins & Alec Baldwin vs a grizzly bear. That should be enough to buy this selection. These men battle nature in this intense adventure. A straight forward premise focused on realism makes the action even more intense. It’s refreshing to see quality actors in genre films. It makes it easier for us to root for their characters. This cult classic is for fans of survival stories.


The Number 1 opening This Weekend in History belongs to HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA with $43 million in 2012. This Adam Sandler family comedy finished with $148 million in total. The sequel premieres this weekend 3 years later. The 3D CG Animated story follows a group of classical monsters.


2007 Honourable Mention: THE KINGDOM – Total: $48 million

What do you think?

1991 Honourable Mention: NECESSARY ROUGHNESS – Total: $26 million

Leave a comment.

Missing your favourite? Maybe it’s on the companion piece.

1995 Honourable Mention: DEVIL IN A BLUE DRESS – Total: $16 million

Follow me @slipthroughnerd

2005 Honourable Mention: Cronenberg’s A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE – Total: $32 million

10 thoughts on “THIS WEEKEND IN BOX OFFICE HISTORY – September: Part 4

  1. I love these posts! The River Wild is such a great movie! I could watch it over and over, and it’s an uncharacteristic role for Streep and Bacon.

    I’ve gotten into so many fights over the time travel of Looper. It actually doesn’t make any sense if you examine it. I love to me travel, but of it doesn’t make sense it drives me crazy!

    Crocodile Dundee = classic!

    The Edge is another one I could watch over and over.

    Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mel. I’m glad you like these posts. I really like River Wild and Edge too. The survive the wilderness movies with Oscar actors continues this year with Everest and Revenant. And time travel always makes my head hurt too… I love it 😉 The coolest bit in Looper was the amputation stuff. And Crocodile Dundee… ’nuff said. Hehehe.

      Liked by 1 person

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