This series features the best opening weekends since 1980… with 10 movies you don’t want to slip/through the cracks.

This Weekend in History features 2 Tarantino Oscar flicks, with other award season performances from Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, and George Clooney. Plus the usual 5 Cult Classics.

Hollywood tradition unleashes waves of Oscar contenders around the holiday season. This edition features several heavy weight selections that that the Academy praised with attention. Recently, Christmas has highlighted popcorn munching blockbusters, like the mega-beast STAR WARS this year, alongside family adventures and comedies. The following films appear in the Top 200 list since 1980. If you’re interested in more, make sure to check out the 2D Companion Piece.

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


OPENING WEEKEND: $30 million   //   BOX OFFICE TOTAL: $163 million

Quentin Tarantino delivers another masterpiece by mashing together several genres into a strange mish-mash of cinema and grindhouse. This time John Ford runs into ROOTS by way of Blaxpoitation action. Once again Christoph Waltz delivers an impressive co-starring performance. Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson join in the mayhem and fun with villainous turns. This revenge story is brutally violent, but ultimately incredibly satisfying.

CAST AWAY – 2000

OPENING: $29 million   //   TOTAL: $234 million

Robert Zemeckis (BACK TO THE FUTURE, CONTACT) directs this bold experiment in filmmaking. Tom Hanks gets stranded on an island alone, and must somehow survive the elements. Filming took months off so that Hanks could transform himself into a super slim Robinson Crusoe. Despite spending most of the runtime with Hanks alone, the movie is totally captivating. Spectacle mixes well with emotion, delivering a compelling human drama about what drives us to live.


OPENING: $18 million   //   TOTAL: $117 million

Martin Scorsese helms this rude and crude tale of exploitation. The slimy protagonist manipulates the system as well as the dreams of his victims. Performances are amazing and the real reason to watch this movie. Leonardo DiCaprio delights in his disgusting behaviour, delivering one of his best roles yet.

UP IN THE AIR – 2009

OPENING: $11 million   //   TOTAL: $84 million

The character study is quite compelling, discussing the distance between us. George Clooney portrays a complex character struggling to understand his purpose. His job acts as a metaphor we all can relate to. Anna Kendrick delivers an impressive co-starring performance, as does Vera Farmiga. Jason Reitman established himself as a director focused on character and drama, rather than crude comedy his earlier feature highlighted (more on that in the Take 5: Cult Classic section below).


OPENING: $9 million   //   TOTAL: $40 million

Tarantino adapts an Elmore Leonard crime novel for this inclusion on the list. Pam Grier stars as our hero, a savvy woman ready to turn the tables on the authorities and the gangster she sneaks money into the country for. The actual schemings get quite complicated, but this is really a simple plot. Our hero just tries to make it out of a complicated undercover operation alive. All of this is, of course, filtered through the mad scientist lens of Tarantino, and his flavourful trademark dialogue.



OPENING: $12 million   //   TOTAL: $40 million

Robert Rodriguez (DESPERADO, SIN CITY) directs this super stylish and super exciting version of the familiar INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS storyline. This time the teachers at a high school are hosts to alien monsters trying to take over the world, beginning with the student body. Elijah Wood leads an impressive FELLOWSHIP of rising stars (of the time) including Josh Hartnett (PEARL HARBOR) and Jordana Brewster (the FAST & FURIOUS series)… and Usher(?). Teachers include Jonathan Stewart (Yes, from THE DAILY SHOW) and Salma Hayek. This was one of those movies I watched over and over growing up, for the exciting action, rocking soundtrack, and crazy camerawork.

JUNO – 2007

OPENING: $11 million   //   TOTAL: $143 million

Jason Reitman (UP IN THE AIR) exploded on the scene with an acidic script from ingenue Diablo Cody. Ellen Page played our uber-preggers teen with incredible energy. The characters are almost too witty, but it worked perfectly for a dialogue perv like me. I fell in love with this underdog, and totally fell under the spell of the movie. This is a simple character story that absorbs you with people who actually sound like your friends (if you’re weird and nerdy too).


OPENING: $8 million   //   TOTAL: $35 million

My favourite Jim Carrey performance has him portraying stand-up comedian Andy Kaufman (most famous for SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE). This man pushed the envelop of stage comedy and what is acceptable in society. He always seems to be purposefully elbowing America in the ribs. Kaufman’s unconventional stylings aren’t for everyone, but the emotional true story of the relationships he formed and the challenges he faced is totally enthralling.


OPENING: $13 million   //   TOTAL: $148 million

Occasionally, an amazing romance comes along that manages not to go over the edge into annoying cheese territory. Jack Nicholson delivers one of his best characters, as an obsessive compulsive older man trying to fall in love again for the first time. The entire cast is impressive, and the comedy actually works as well as the romance does. This is a crowd-pleaser for cinephiles who might be a bit more cynical.


OPENING: $7 million   //   TOTAL: $72 million

This cult classic has garnered quite the following over the years. It spoofs stuff like STAR TREK by imagining how the fictional crew would deal with a very real alien threat. Supporting characters like Alan Rickman’s alien and Sam Rockwell provide tons of laughs, but there is still some excitement in this adventure. This is a fun ride through and through.

1994 Stinker: STREET FIGHTER – Total: $33 million

What do you think?

2000 Cult Classic: MISS CONGENIALITY – Total: $107 million

Leave a comment.



Hungry for more? Check out Two Dans for a completely different menu.

1998 Charlize Theron Bomb: MIGHTY JOE YOUNG – Total: $51 million

Follow me on Twitter @slipthroughnerd

1999 Cult Classic: THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY – Total: $81 million

15 thoughts on “THIS WEEKEND IN BOX OFFICE HISTORY – Holiday Edition

  1. I liked Juno very much too! 🙂
    And As Good As it Gets and also Cast Away.
    I kind of hated Up in the Air. I was really expecting a romantic movie and I felt like breaking the TV when the movie ended. That didn’t happen very often, mostly I feel like breaking the TV right away (like when I watched The Faculty by mistake!) 😀
    I love your reviews, Dan 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Paola. And hahhaa great joke about Faculty and Up in the Air. The Clooney flick was more depressing than I expected. The 3 you mention are all from my favs the year they were released. Juno is just such a great character. I really love her. And I love the quiet nature moments of CastAway.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 🙂 I’m really behind watching movies.
        Life happened and I truly don’t enjoy watching some of them alone. And I have no idea why so many make me cry right now!! It seems that I can relate to everything! 😀
        I hope you don’t mind I make you answer so many comments 🙂
        (And more will come because I’m still catching up!) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I love your comments, Paola. And I’ve noticed the same thing with me and movies lately. I think it’s either, tis the season for emotions, or it’s the season for good movies with “real” performances.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. 🙂 I’m glad you love my comments. I’m smiling 😀 (big smile!!).
        I really want to watch a movie that blows my mind but either I’m really difficult or there are not good movies! (And when I say “good” I mean, what’s good for me right now. That is: no war, tears, horror, sickness or anything that will ruin my day… I just want to feel good and end the movie with a smile 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Now need to watch Galaxy Quest and The Faculty – only ones on the list I’ve not seen 😔 Hated Jackie Brown though – which has always felt odd being a big Tarantino fan. Never put my finger on exactly why…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Galaxy Quest is lots of fun. And if you’re into stylish horror/action hybrids you should enjoy Faculty too.

      Jackie Brown felt weird to me too. It’s not overflowing with QT flavour, since it’s based on a Elmore Leonard book. However, once I knew where the story was going, the 2nd viewing was way better. I could just sit back and hang out with these characters and not worry about what would happen (since the plot isn’t always moving). Jackie is a movie I like more and more as I get older. I have a feeling it could keep creeping up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hehehe maybe you will. But it’s most important to remind open minding like you are. It’s the whole realization Jackie has about her station in life, and her quiet relationship with the bondsman.

        Liked by 1 person

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