THIS WEEKEND IN BOX OFFICE HISTORY – January: Part 2

This series highlights some of the best opening weekends since 1980… with 10 movies that shouldn’t slip/through the cracks.

SLIP-TWIBOH-jan2

This Weekend in History features one of best martial arts movies ever, Denzel vs The Apocalypse, 3 great war films (including a picture from one of my favourite directors), and 5 Cult Classics.

January is notorious for a lot of duds at the box office – a lot of fizzle, rarely any sizzle. I’ve combed through the Top 200 openings and selected the best films, ranging from serious contenders, to fun movies that might be perfect for the right movie fan.

I’m experimenting with format here. To make a swift breezy read to scroll through. Let me know if you like this new bullet-point stream-lined style.

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

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON – 2001

OPENING WEEKEND: $9 MILLION   //   BOX OFFICE TOTAL: $128 MILLION

  • Ang Lee directs. Beautiful cinematography. A focus on character. Emotions land with impact.
  • Yuen Wo-Ping choreographs the fights. The action is mind-blowing. Balletic martial arts are filmed wide frame, instead of rapid MTV editing and cheating close-ups.
  • Part quest. Part love story.
  • Legendary Chinese actors Michelle Yeoh & Chow Yun Fat deliver impressive performances with subtle but provocative chemistry.
  • HIGHLIGHT: The whimsical fantasy approach to the bamboo fight.

BOOK OF ELI – 2010

OPENING: $33 MILLION   //   TOTAL: $95 MILLION

  • Denzel Washington kicks ass in the apocalypse, using a Liam Neeson like “particular set of skills” on his journey to deliver a sacred object.
  • Grimy and brutal future, filmed with style by Hughes Brothers (MENACE II SOCIETY).
  • Mila Kunis co-stars as a gun-wielding sidekick.
  • Gary Oldman chews up the scenery.
  • Nice twist.
  • B-Movie done right.
  • HIGHLIGHT: Denzel knows kung-fu.

ZERO DARK THIRTY – 2013

OPENING: $24 MILLION   //   TOTAL: $96 MILLION

  • Jessica Chastain bursts onto the scene with a magnetic performance as the woman who tracked down Osama Bin Laden.
  • Katherine Bigelow (POINT BREAK) earned an Oscar for directing here.
  • The pacing is tight, the structure is compelling, and the finale is breath-taking.
  • A war film that doesn’t focus on war, but rather the behind-the-scenes intelligence.
  • HIGHLIGHT: Watching Bin Laden’s compound get stormed.

LONE SURVIVOR – 2014

OPENING: $38 MILLION   //   TOTAL: $95 MILLION

  • Impressive ensemble cast includes Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, and Ben Foster as Navy SEALs on a mission in Afghanistan.
  • Focus on brutal reality of combat.
  • The no quit nature of a soldier, and their brotherhood.
  • Relentless action.
  • HIGHLIGHT: The skirmish between a few SEALs and dozens of enemy soldiers.

THE THIN RED LINE – 1999

OPENING: $10 MILLION   //   TOTAL: $36 MILLION

  • Iconic director Terrence Mallick returns to the screen after years of absence, to make this WWII war film set in the Pacific.
  • Interpretive cinema at its best. Rich themes.
  • Jaw dropping cinematography.
  • Atmospheric score by Hans Zimmer.
  • Incredible cast: George Clooney, Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson, John Travolta, Nick Nolte, and Jim Caviezel.
  • Better than Spielberg’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (which is 5/5), released the same year.
  • HIGHLIGHT: The beauty of indigenous people and an AWOL soldier in harmony.

The Number 1 opening This Weekend in History also sits atop the charts for the month. AMERICAN SNIPER debuted with a stellar $89 million in 2015. This was highly impressive for the winter months, especially in the dumping grounds of January. The Clint Eastwood directed drama focused on the PTSD of a returning soldier (Bradley Cooper in a commanding performance).


cult_classics_logo


GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM – 1988

OPENING: $12 MILLION   //   TOTAL: $124 MILLION

  • Robin Williams does drama for the first time, and blows everyone away, as a radio DJ broadcasting to American troops from within Vietnam.
  • Some comedy keeps this from being as depressing as most war films.
  • Early role for Forest Whitaker.
  • Good storytelling. Solid directing.
  • HIGHLIGHT: Williams’ radio intro.

GIRL, INTERRUPTED – 2000

OPENING: $8 MILLION   //   TOTAL: $29 MILLION

  • Winona Ryder delivers a thoughtful performance as a woman who enters a mental institution, and finds unique friends in the process.
  • Not as cheesy or melodramatic as it sounds.
  • Angelina Jolie delivers an amazing performance as a rebellious patient. Award nominated.
  • HIGHLIGHT: When the gang skips out for ice cream.

THE HURRICANE – 2000

OPENING: $9 MILLION   //   TOTAL: $51 MILLION

  • Denzel is back on the list, in this true story about a boxer who also fought social injustice from behind bars.
  • Emotional performance. Award nominated.
  • Great cinematography.
  • Simple storytelling. Focused on character.
  • HIGHLIGHT: Denzel speechifying in prison.

VARSITY BLUES – 1997

OPENING: $15 MILLION   //   TOTAL: $53 MILLION

  • Cheesy 90s football movie made for the teen demographic.
  • Rockin’ soundtrack, including “Hero” by the Foo Fighters.
  • Totally 90s casting with DAWSON’S CREEK himself, James Van Der Beek, and pre-FAST&FURIOUS Paul Walker.
  • Cliched by lots of fun, due to energy and stylish direction.
  • HIGHLIGHT: Ali Larter in a whip-cream bikini… Oh yeah, and the football game too.

DON’T BE A MENACE TO SOUTH CENTRAL WHILE DRINKING YOUR JUICE IN THE HOOD – 1996

OPENING: $8 MILLION   //   TOTAL: $20 MILLION

  • Spoofs the 90s hood movies like MENACE II SOCIETY and BOYZ N THE HOOD.
  • The Wayans brothers at their best – especially, Marlon.
  • This is so funny, these guys got to make SCARY MOVIE spoofing SCREAM next.
  • Rewatchable and quotable.
  • Hilarious for fans of the genre. There are so many jokes per minute.
  • HIGHLIGHT: When the narration says most black men don’t live to see their 20th birthday. Then someone sings Happy Birthday, with a cake,  the candles say 21… and as the guy goes to blow out the candle, he gets shot.

1991 Honurable Mention: AWAKENINGS – Total: $52 million

What do you think?

2006 Honourable Mention: BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN – Total: $83 million

Which of the featured movies is your favourite?

2000 Cult Classic: NEXT FRIDAY – Total: $57 million

Do you like the Cult Classic inclusions?

1992 Cult Classic: KUFFS – Total: $21 million

Leave a comment below.

2009 Stinker: PAUL BLART MALL COP – Total: $146 million

Follow me on Twitter @slipthroughnerd

2007 Cult Classic: ALPHA DOG – TotaL: $15 million



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10 thoughts on “THIS WEEKEND IN BOX OFFICE HISTORY – January: Part 2

  1. Wow so many interesting films. I would argue that Robin Williams had dine drama before but Good Morning Vietnam I think was his first really big success. I couldn’t agree more about Varsity Blues, I had no interest in seeing it and I really enjoyed it. Sexy Amy Smart playing the girl next door. “Playing big city football may have been your lifelong dream BUT-AY-DERNT-WAND-YOURA-LIFE”. A few of these were Oscar bait but interestingly Lone Survivor was the true first box office smash based on subject matter relating to the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. Marky Mark the superstar was on a roll. Americsn Sniper I think a better and more thoughtful film also bucked these trends. I wonder if that was because they were not viewed as Hollywood liberal propaganda but more as films that focussed little on the wars depicted and more on the men who fought in them and their brotherhood? Finally can I say one more thing. I have no problem with Olivia Wilde being on the Alpha Dog poster in a bikini bottom but if she’s important enough to appear on the poster as a selling point and she’s one of the main characters in your movie then it’s important enough to put her name on the poster to get billing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow. Great commentary, Lloyd! I agree with a lot of what you said. I really enjoyed Sniper too. And hahaha Wilde definitely deserves a credit… when you put it like that 😉 Thanks for checking out the TWIBOH buddy.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahah a good bang always helps…. And there are a lot more flicks obviously, but I had to highlight these war flicks since I enjoyed them so much. I also don’t know if the Millenials are aware of GM, Vietnam. Had to spread the wealth. As for Thin Red Line, well we chatted about Revenant’s themes with your really amazing review, and Mallick definitely loves to make poetry too. Talk about climaxes, his interpretive visuals felate me 😉

      Liked by 2 people

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