Flashback: Assessing Premiere Magazine’s 1992 Summer Movie Predictions (Part Four)

Premiere’s Pick:  Far And Away
It could’ve been called Sure As The Moon or The Irish Story.  Regardless, Ron Howard’s first attempt at an old-school epic was a risky proposition in the summer of 1992.  It wasn’t a sequel like Honey, I Blew Up The Kid or a three-quel like Alien 3.  There was no built-in audience for its storyline and it wasn’t based on an existing work.  Set in the late 1800s, its two leads speak with Irish lilts in their voices.  Shot in glorious 70mm, it runs nearly 2 and a half hours.
Tom Cruise and his then-second wife Nicole Kidman (yet to be respected as an actor in her own right at the time) play polar opposites in their second on-screen collaboration (Days Of Thunder and Eyes Wide Shut were the others).  He’s the poor son out for vengeance after the untimely death of his father.  He blames Kidman’s aristocratic dad and goes after him only to get a pitchfork in the leg courtesy of his daughter.  (I wonder how many times Kidman relieved this moment during her divorce from Cruise.)
Once he’s healed, they’re off to America to explore The New World together.  Unsurprisingly, despite their differences, they fall in love.  He thrives by fighting while she struggles with jobs no rich girl would ever consider.  The film’s best moment is its climax:  the Oklahoma land rush where many gallop away like madmen to secure a piece of their future.
I screened the film about a week before its wide release at a special sneak preview and loved it.  It’s one of Cruise’s least appreciated pictures.  Director Howard would find far more success later on with the cleverly constructed Oscar winner, A Beautiful Mind, and his best film, Apollo 13.  All three would make an ideal triple bill.
Premiere expected it to make money.  In the end, it made back its budget and not much else.  59 million altogether.  Kidman would eventually receive the respect she so rightly deserves as an actor thanks to performances in To Die For and The Hours.  Her portrayal of Virginia Woolf at her lowest in the latter earned her a Best Actress Oscar.  After three nominations for his work, Cruise is still waiting for his golden trophy.
Where The Film Actually Placed:  Eighth
The Real #5:  Unforgiven
The sleeper hit of the summer.  Premiere mentioned it briefly in its summer preview issue but never expected it to do as well as it did.  In fact, they weren’t the only ones caught by surprise.
Written many years earlier by David Webb Peoples (who also wrote Blade Runner), Eastwood sat on the script for nearly a decade until he was old enough and ready enough to tackle the lead role.  Originally entitled The William Munny Killings, Eastwood is the title character, a formerly notorious gunslinger in the old west, widowed with children, who’s wooed back after an irresistible request from a whorehouse.  One of the prostitutes has been slashed by a john and it’s up to Eastwood, his best friend Morgan Freeman and Canadian actor Jaimz Woolvett to take care of business before collecting their reward.
A thoughtful character study about the possibilities of permanently repressing violent tendencies, it wasn’t supposed to click.  The western was dead.  Movies released in August aren’t expected to make that much money.  But the conventional wisdom was wrong.  The film is excellent, one of Eastwood’s best, and connected with audiences and critics right from the get-go.  (Gene Siskel, on the other hand, famously panned it.)  After receiving a number of Oscar nominations, it was reissued in February 1993 where it added to its already impressive total.  (The film would end up being named Best Picture and Gene Hackman, who played the ruthlessly corrupt sheriff, Little Bill Daggett, would snag the Best Supporting Actor trophy.  Eastwood had to talk him into doing the role before he would accept.)
After all was said and done, Unforgiven earned 101 million dollars domestically.
Premiere’s Pick:  Patriot Games
After negotiations with Alec Baldwin broke down (he played Jack Ryan in The Hunt For Red October), Director Philip Noyce turned to Harrison Ford who unwittingly found himself anchoring yet another franchise, albeit briefly.  Based on the best-selling novels by Tom Clancy, Patriot Games, the second film in the series, much like its predecessor, was a hit.  Surprisingly, despite being far more action-packed, it made less money.  (83 million to Red October’s 121 million.)
The entertaining action thriller spawned another sequel two years later, Clear And Present Danger (also good), which outperformed the earlier chapters with its 122 million take.  In 2002, Ben Affleck became the third actor to play Jack Ryan in The Sum Of All Fears.  It made 118 million.
Premiere called it right again with regards to Patriot Games’ financial prospects (“Alec Baldwin becomes…George Lazenby?”, as they put it.  The latter played James Bond once in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.) but the film was not the fourth biggest film of the summer.
Where The Movie Actually Placed:  Sixth
The Real #4:  A League Of Their Own
Premiere’s Pick:  Housesitter
This very funny comedy about a con artist (Goldie Hawn) who pretends to be an architect’s wife (Steve Martin) in order to make his former girlfriend (Dana Delany) jealous and win her back after she turned down his marriage proposal didn’t do nearly as well as Premiere hoped.  “[I]t’s the date movie of the summer,” they declared.  But despite being a good movie, Housesitter only accumulated 59 million at the box office.
Where The Movie Actually Placed:  Tenth
The Real #3:  Sister Act
Premiere’s Pick & The Real #2:  Lethal Weapon 3
After batting 0 for 18, they finally got one right.  The third installment in the Riggs/Murtaugh saga didn’t quite make it artistically but commercially, it was robust, just as the magazine predicted.  Its grand total domestically was 145 million, just shy of LW2’s final take of 147 million.  It remains the most successful Lethal Weapon movie.  A fourth chapter surfaced six years later to much critical disdain.  It made a healthy 130 million.  The original only made 65 million.
Will there be a fifth?  Maybe if they make Riggs anti-semitic.  Nah, that wouldn’t work.  Nobody would believe it.
Premiere’s Pick & The Real #1:  Batman Returns
It’s better than the 1989 original.  There’s two compelling villains instead of one.  And its flaws notwithstanding, it’s a good comic book movie.  Despite all of that, Premiere Magazine made an accurate prediction:
“Less than the first one.”
Indeed, this Batman made nearly 100 million less than its predecessor.  (Maybe The Joker should’ve returned?)  Batman Returns made 163 million in North America without the presence of a black Robin.  (Marlon Wayans was reportedly going to play him before it was decided that the character wouldn’t be involved in the story.)  Batman made 251 million.  Batman Forever, the third movie in the revived series, would do a bit better in 1995.  It made 184 million.
After the pummelling Batman & Robin received in 1997 (it still managed to take in 107 million domestically), it would be an eight-year wait for the next movie.  When Batman Begins arrived in the summer of 2005, the impossible happened.  Roger Ebert gave it a good review.  It wrapped up its theatrical run with a 205 million bounty.  Expect another sequel, The Dark Knight, in 2008.
Premiere’s Full List Of Predictions (Overall Score: 2 for 20)
 1. Batman Returns
 2. Lethal Weapon 3
 3. Housesitter
 4. Patriot Games
 5. Far And Away
 6. Boomerang
 7. The Last Of The Mohicans
 8. Trespass (AKA The Looters)
 9. Death Becomes Her
10. Alien 3
11. Single White Female
12. Honeymoon In Vegas
13. Pinocchio (Disney Re-issue)
14. A League Of Their Own
15. Honey, I Blew Up The Kid
16. Universal Soldier
17. Singles
18. Encino Man
19. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
20. Sister Act
The Top 20 Grossing Summer Films Of 1992
 1. Batman Returns ($162,831,698)
 2. Lethal Weapon 3 ($144,731,527)
 3. Sister Act ($139,605,150)
 4. A League Of Their Own ($107,533,925)
 5. Unforgiven ($101,157,447)
 6. Patriot Games ($83,287,363)
 7. Boomerang ($70,100,000)
 8. Far And Away ($58,883,840)
 9. Honey, I Blew Up The Kid ($58,662,452)
10. Housesitter ($58,500,635)
11. Death Becomes Her ($58,422,650)
12. Unlawful Entry ($57,138,179)
13. Alien 3 ($55,473,600)
14. Single White Female ($48,017,402)
15. Encino Man ($40,693,477)
16. Mo’ Money ($40,227,006)
17. Universal Soldier ($36,299,898)
18. Honeymoon In Vegas ($35,208,854)
19. 3 Ninjas ($29,000,301)
20. Raising Cain ($21,370,057)
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, September 9, 2007
11:09 p.m.
Published in: on September 9, 2007 at 11:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

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