This nerdy series highlights the best opening weekends since 1980.

This Weekend in History features the best movie of all time (plus another Tarantino triumph), the cultiest cult classic of recent times, puppets gone bad, baby talk, puppets gone good, and 5 Cult Classics.

October has been the home to some strong critical releases over the years. While not all catch on with the mainstream, there are some small openers that went big this month since the 80s.

As always, the spotlight will shine on well regarded films as well as guilty pleasure cult classics. If you want some more nerdy picks check out the companion piece over at A TALE OF TWO DANS.

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


OPENING WEEKEND: $9 million   //   BOX OFFICE TOTAL: $108 million

My favourite film of all time comes from cinematic legend, brilliant auteur, and mad scientist, Quentin Tarantino. His bouncing story structure and flavourful dialogue are the main highlights. Several dark crime stories weave through one another in this violent bit of exploitation homage.

PULP FICTION’s success gave birth to the independent movie boom. The 90s would have looked totally different without it.

KILL BILL: VOL. 1 – 2003

OPENING: $22 million   //   TOTAL: $70 million

Nearly a decade after PULP, Tarantino continues his triumphant domination on cinema. This revenge flick borrowed the best from martial arts exploitation flicks like the Shaw Brothers Productions. The kung fu and samurai battles are elaborately choreographed and doused in buckets of blood.

A pure joy for movie nerds.


OPENING: $11 million   //   TOTAL: $37 million

This cult classic really took off on home video. It took a while for this anarchist cookbook to crack into the mainstream. The bold script and beautifully dark photography compliment an acidic sense of humour. A strong cast leads the way in this twisted comedy meets vengeful vigilante politic/philosophy heavy psychological drama. Wow, that’s a mouth-full.

How can you easily describe this layered thriller? See it, and experience this acid trip through crumbling society and fractured psyches.


OPENING: $12 million   //   TOTAL: $33 million

The guys who brought us SOUTH PARK, go political comedy with this string-puppet action movie. The humour is over-the-top and offensive… and it playfully wallows in it. This cult classic shamelessly attacks every country at war. Underneath all the R-rated crude humour is some intellectual commentary – believe it or not.


OPENING: $12 million   //   TOTAL: $140 million

This totally 80s smash hit came out of nowhere to take over the box office. Positive word of mouth spread across the country. Check out that unadjusted box office! John Travolta stars alongside Kirstie Alley in this comedy about raising a baby. The twist here was the audience could hear the baby talk. And it was Bruce Willis providing the voice. This guilty pleasure was full of laughs.


OPENING: $33 million   //   TOTAL: $77 million

The second selection with puppets didn’t play it for laughs. Despite looking like a family film and based on a famous children’s book, this Spike Jonze trip was surprisingly dark and dreary. It leaves you feeling melancholy. The idea of longing to go back to childhood haunts us all. Jonze somehow conveyed that emotion in a children’s movie with giant talking costumed monsters.

While many were disappointed by this feature adaption, I loved it. The visuals are absolutely jaw dropping.



OPENING: $9 million   //   TOTAL: $33 million

This 90s cult classic is kind of like a way more fun version of SALT. Geena Davis plays the secret assassin here. Really, it’s Samuel L. Jackson as her sidekick that steals the show. The action is over-the-top crazy and tons of fun, but Jackson’s character provides the best parts with his comedy. Renny Harlin directs this, ensuring we’ll get at least one totally epic explosion.

90s action fans definitely have to give this a watch.

THE GRUDGE 2 – 2006

OPENING: $21 million   //   TOTAL: $39 million

The Japanese horror remake craze was starting to wane when this debuted. The first one, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, was well received, but really the Japanese original takes the cake. This horror series relies on atmosphere and building tension to satisfy the audience. This subtle approach didn’t translate as well to the American audience. That said, this series is one of the better from that era of Asian Remakes.

NERD ALERT: Watch for Australian Teresa Palmer in an early role.


OPENING: $10 million   //   TOTAL: $38 million

Brad Pitt was still developing his acting career. He always made challenging decisions. While he’s steered clear of the period romances of late, he had a good string of them. This movie was a departure for him. Working with a cinematic minded director (Jean Jacques Annaud), Pitt wanted to be taken seriously. Stunning photography, calm philosophy, beautiful adventure, this drama had a bit of it all.

THE THING – 2011

OPENING: $8 million   //   TOTAL: $17 million

Decades after the John Carpenter original, this prequel holds up to the predecessor. Horror fans will enjoy experiencing the story connections. This is old school horror, focused on scaring you and keeping you on the edge of your seat. While easy to dismiss as another reboot, this one is worth watching.

NERD ALERT: Current critical darling, Joel Edgerton appears in an early starring role here.


OPENING: $7 million   //   TOTAL: $18 million

Sure, this is another Freddy Krueger movie, but this one is different. Wes Craven returns to the franchise he created for the first time. Another big highlight is the returning cast from the original and the self aware approach a couple years before SCREAM did it. This sequel takes place in reality, where Freddy haunts the cast and crew of the original movie. Bold and daring, but also delivers on the genre expectations, as well as adding some unexpected satire.

One of the better NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET sequels.

The Number One movie This Weekend in History is JACKASS 3D with $50 million in 2010. Good enough for 3rd overall in October overall. This prank and stunt filled comedy documentary went on to make $117 million inspiring a whole generation to take to YouTube and emulate their broken boned heroes.

2012 Honourable Mention: SINISTER – Total: $48 million

What do you think?

1998 Honourable Mention: PRACTICAL MAGIC – Total: $47 million

Leave a comment.

Check out the companion piece for more nerdy pix.

1998 Honourable Mention: BELOVED – Total: $23 million

Follow me @slipthroughnerd

1996 Honourable Mention: THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS – Total: $39 million

14 thoughts on “THIS WEEKEND IN BOX OFFICE HISTORY – October: Part 2

  1. I HATED Where the Wild Things Are. I was so pumped to go and see it and it was so boring and utterly depressing all I could think about was just walking into traffic after it finished. My wife and I had to watch comedies the rest of the night to purge that awful thing from our minds.

    I’ve never seen Beloved but I like the rest of the films though. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha… I’ve talked with a few folks about Wild. Definitely an unexpected approach there. It made me stew on unfairness of life. Perhaps I should have followed it up with some comedy chasers too 😉 That said, it was a rare and powerful emotional experience.

      Beloved was a mild disappointment. Great cast and director, but a weird balance of tone. Worth watching though.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Right on! Thanks, James. I love so many different films… Evil Dead 2 alongside Tree of Life. Tis the season for horror. Doing this series I was surprised to see August with so many successful horrors over the past 3 decades.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, you sure do your homework! 🙂
    I’ve seen only 3 or 4 of the movies you mentioned and Pulp Fiction was the only one I watched on a big screen. Great movie, it made me laugh or go WTF every 3 minutes. And the soundtrack… each song seemed to be made specially for that film.
    I loved The Fight Club. I like Edward Norton very much since I accidentally watched Primal Fear (one those times you go to the cinema and they are showing 2 movies and you decide to stay for the second one… So glad I did 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, I didn’t see that movie! I will, I just added it to my list. Thank you! 🙂
        Since last weekend, I’m watching ‘road trip’ movies. I made a list of about 20 of them. Those are actually my favorite kind of movies. Only a few characters and mostly beautiful landscapes (plus, I always want to escape :D)
        (I avoid the ones that I suspect could make me cry 🙂 )

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I LOVED Little Miss Sunshine! I saw Road Trip and the other one is on the list 🙂
        Last weekend I watched: My One and Only, Leap Year, To Wong Foo thanks……, Sex Drive and a couple more than I don’t remember. I’m really enjoying them 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Depending on how open-minded you are there’s a great Spanish road trip flick about coming of age – Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN. It’s kinda well-known in the indie cinema world, but needs to be seen by more. Sorta risque relationship stuff but well worth it. The director and cast have since gone on to do huge things in Hollywood.

        To Wong Foo was surprisingly good back then. Funny! And ahead of its time.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Funny thing about Y Tu Mamá También!! I’m from Argentina and my mom was visiting me here. I asked her if she wanted to watched a movie. She doesn’t speak English and that was the only movie I found in Spanish. I read ‘road trip’ and thought, we are going to be both happy… OMG! If I knew!! My mom HATES sex or blood in movies :D. She spent the whole movies saying: “You are worse than your father, you are going to pay for this!”. We laughed a lot because none of us could believe what was happening next, like come on!! 🙂
        I believe my mom won’t watch a movie with me anymore.
        I liked it 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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