Flashback: Assessing Premiere Magazine’s 1994 Summer Movie Predictions (Part Four)

 
#5
 
Premiere’s Pick:  I Love Trouble
 
Julia Roberts and Nick Nolte are bitter newspaper rivals in love in this disappointing romantic comedy.  They’re both trying to get to the bottom of a major story involving shady activities being kept under wraps in a major chemical facility.  A lack of chemistry and an uneven comic tone were the two biggest reasons why the film failed with audiences and critics, much to the chagrin of Premiere Magazine who had high hopes for it.
 
“Julia will open it and the movie will do the rest,” they claimed confidently.  After a soft opening weekend (8 million), I Love Trouble flatlined at 31 million.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Nineteenth
 
The Real #5:  Clear And Present Danger
 
 
#4
 
Premiere’s Pick & The Real #4:  The Flintstones
 
Finally, after sixteen misses, they got one right.  The previously animated “Modern Stone Age Family” gets the live action treatment in this absurd yet highly commercial summer blockbuster.  John Goodman plays Fred Flintstone (was there ever a second choice?), Elizabeth Perkins is his wife, Wilma, Rick Moranis is his best friend and next door neighbour, Barney Rubble, and Rosie O’Donnell plays his wife, Betty.  Elizabeth Taylor is Wilma’s mom.  Kyle McLachlan from Twin Peaks plays Fred’s superior who, along with his smoking hot secretary, Halle Berry, are out to fleece their own company.  They ask Fred to join them in their conspiracy.
 
Berry’s role, Rosetta Stone, was originally named Sharon Stone but the real SS wisely turned down the part.  For me, the film lacked big laughs and an interesting story.  Those bizarre looking sets weren’t helping matters, either.  But audiences strongly disagreed.  As predicted by Premiere, the film was one of the big hits of the summer of 1994.  When all was said and done, it accumulated 131 million.  Six years later, there was a sequel.  The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas didn’t feature any of its predecessor’s original cast members.  Mark Addy from The Full Monty and Stephen Baldwin replaced Goodman and Moranis, respectively.  Kristen Johnston from Third Rock From The Sun took over the role of Wilma and Jane Krakowski from Ally McBeal replaced O’Donnell as Betty.  Even Liz Taylor didn’t return.  Joan Collins stepped into her shoes to portray Fred’s mother-in-law.  None of these changes kept the franchise going beyond a second film.  The 83 million production only earned back 35 million.
 
 
#3 
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Maverick
 
Originally a TV western starring James Garner, this Richard Donner film was reworked as a twisty, frothy comedy.  Mel Gibson delivers one of his most charming performances as the title character, a sly card shark not above a little chicanery.  Jodie Foster plays a fellow con who he has a fling with.  Graham Greene (Dances With Wolves), Alfred Molina, James Coburn and Garner, this time playing “a straitlaced lawman”, round out the major cast members, most of whom are Gibson’s opponents at the poker table.
 
The early 1990s was a period where numerous old TV shows and Saturday Night Live sketches were turned into major motion pictures.  Some turned out great (The Fugitive, Wayne’s World) while others stunk up theatres with their overt mediocrity (The Little Rascals, The Flintstones).  Maverick fell in the middle.  It’s a good comic western with a number of clever twists.  An audience pleaser from the get-go, Premiere expected it to be huge.  It made 102 million altogether.  As usual, the magazine just got the placement wrong.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Eighth
 
The Real #3:  True Lies
 
 
#2
 
Premiere’s Pick & The Real #2:  The Lion King
 
The year before Pixar’s Toy Story would dramatically change the animation business (more computer 3D stuff, fewer handdrawn features), Walt Disney Studios released one of their most successful traditional cartoons ever.  Originally entitled King Of The Jungle and not a musical, this thoroughly enjoyable comic adventure tells the tale of a young lion cub destined to take his father’s place as the leader of the animals.  But his nefarious Uncle Scar (terrific voice work by Oscar winner Jeremy Irons) refuses to let that happen.  After tragedy strikes, the young Simba flees the kingdom, befriends two very funny wiseasses (Ernie Sabella and Nathan Lane) and enjoys a life of ease.  But it doesn’t last, mainly because he is soon reminded of his rightful place in the world.
 
Although it isn’t nearly as great as Beauty And The Beast or Aladdin, The Lion King is exquisitely animated, alternately funny and moving, and features some memorable songs from Tim Rice and Elton John, Hakuna Matata easily being the strongest of the bunch.
 
“This lion has teeth,” Premiere proclaimed.  Duh.  The film earned 313 million.  John’s Can You Feel The Love Tonight took home The Best Original Song Oscar the following year.  One of the last animated smashes that executive Jeffrey Katzenberg was associated with before he resigned acrimoniously (he later co-founded Dreamworks with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen), it marked the peak of Disney’s old school animation style.  With the exception of its massively popular and respected Pixar offerings, none of Disney’s follow-up handdrawn features have come close to matching or topping the financial achievements of The Lion King.
 
 
#1
 
Premiere’s Pick:  True Lies
 
After the surprise commercial failure of the underappreciated Last Action Hero (you heard me), Arnold Schwarzenegger knew what he had to do:  call James Cameron.  Three years after they made the great Terminator 2, they collaborated on this remake of a French film.  The Austrian strongman plays a married guy whose wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) thinks has a boring job.  In reality, he’s an adventure-seeking CIA operative.  Throw in some Arab terrorists out to cause mayhem and destruction with their nuclear arsenal and there’s your movie.
 
And yet, it almost doesn’t work.  The Curtis character goes from being a mousy pain in the ass to a sex kitten who’s still a pain in the ass.  The stuff involving Bill Paxton as a romantic rival should’ve been dropped altogether.  But thankfully, the film is funny (Tom Arnold has a major breakthrough as a sidekick), the action sequences are well executed and there’s enough good stuff to make you tolerate the flaws.
 
Premiere Magazine made a simple prediction:  “Business is booming!”  True Lies gave Schwarzenegger and company a summer to remember.  It generated 146 million in ticket sales.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Third
 
The Real #1:  Forrest Gump
 
 
Premiere’s Full List Of Predictions (Overall Score:  2 for 20)
 
1. True Lies
2. The Lion King
3. Maverick
4. The Flintstones
5. I Love Trouble
6. Renaissance Man
7. City Slickers II: The Legend Of Curly’s Gold
8. Clear And Present Danger
9. Wyatt Earp
10. The Mask
11. Forrest Gump
12. Speed
13. Baby’s Day Out
14. The Client
15. Beverly Hills Cop III
16. Angels In The Outfield
17. North
18. Blown Away
19. The Cowboy Way
20. Wolf
 
The Top 20 Grossing Summer Films Of 1994
 
1. Forrest Gump ($329,694,499)
2. The Lion King ($312,855,561)
3. True Lies ($146,282,411)
4. The Flintstones ($130,531,208)
5. Clear And Present Danger ($122,187,717)
6. Speed ($121,248,145)
7. The Mask ($119,938,730)
8. Maverick ($101,631,272)
9. The Client ($92,115,211)
10. Wolf ($65,002,597)
11. The Little Rascals ($52,125,282)
12. The Crow ($50,693,129)
13. Natural Born Killers ($50,282,766)
14. Angels In The Outfield ($50,236,831)
15. City Slickers II: The Legend Of Curly’s Gold ($43,622,150)
16. Beverly Hills Cop III ($42,614,912)
17. It Could Happen To You ($37,939,757)
18. The Shadow ($32,063,435)
19. I Love Trouble ($30,806,194)
20. Blown Away ($30,156,002)
 
(All figures taken from Box Office Mojo.)
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, August 17, 2008
4:47 p.m.
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Published in: on August 17, 2008 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

Flashback: Assessing Premiere Magazine’s 1994 Summer Movie Predictions (Part Three)

 
#10
 
Premiere’s Pick:  The Mask
 
Stanley Ipkiss is an ordinary bank employee who completely transforms his meek personality into something far more cartoonish and powerful after he starts wearing an ancient, wooden mask.  That’s the premise of this Jim Carrey smash, one of three hit pictures he starred in in 1994.  Cameron Diaz, in her film debut, plays his dream girl and the late stand-up comic Richard Jeni plays his buddy at the bank.  State-of-the-art special effects by George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic played a major role in convincing moviegoers to see this overrated comedy on the big screen instead of waiting months later for its full screen home video release.
 
At the end of its summer run, The Mask earned 120 million for its troubles.  Premiere Magazine in its June 1994 issue expected it to do well but not that well.  Carrey wisely avoided making the sequel, Son Of The Mask, which vanished quickly from cinemas in early 2005.  (The less charismatic Jamie Kennedy took over for the rubber-faced Canadian.)  In the years since, Carrey remains a major draw for audiences.  If only he would make a movie I can recommend.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Seventh
 
The Real #10:  Wolf
 
 
#9
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Wyatt Earp
 
It happens every now and again.  Two major studios make two movies about the same subject within a short period.  In 1992, we got 1492: Conquest Of Paradise and Christopher Columbus: The Discovery.  In 1998, there was Deep Impact and Armageddon.  1997 offered both Dante’s Peak and Volcano.  On Christmas Day 1993, Hollywood Pictures released Tombstone and half a year later, we got Wyatt Earp.  The former was a surprise hit despite a problematic shoot while the latter proved to be a major disappointment both critically and commercially.
 
Kevin Costner plays the title character, the famed gunslinger best known for the legendary gunfight at the O.K. Corral.  This wasn’t the first time Wyatt Earp was the subject of a movie and, chances are, it won’t be the last.  Expectations were high for this ambitious, three-hour epic.  According to Premiere, Dennis Quaid lost 43 pounds to play the sickly Doc Holliday.  Gene Hackman was cast to play Costner’s father.  Oscar winners like Dances With Wolves and Unforgiven proved that audiences were still very receptive to the western genre.  So, what went wrong?  It’s simple.  Wyatt Earp is a bad movie.  It’s too slow, it’s forgettable and it had to follow Tombstone (which, it must be noted, wasn’t any good, either).  Made for a little over 60 million, it only made back 25 million.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Out Of The Top 20
 
The Real #9:  The Client
 
 
#8
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Clear And Present Danger
 
The third Jack Ryan adventure was the last to feature Harrison Ford who took over the role in Patriot Games when Alec Baldwin, the actor who played the character first in The Hunt For Red October, backed out to do A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway.  Games performed well in the summer of 1992 but made less than its more respected predecessor.  Without question, the pressure was on Ford and company to outperform both films.
 
Premiere stated its box office prospects plainly:  “Money in the bank.”  In the end, Clear And Present Danger became the highest grossing Jack Ryan film thus far, taking in 122 million (Red October earned 121 million).  Eight years later, Ben Affleck replaced Ford in The Sum Of All Fears which made 118 million. 
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Fifth
 
The Real #8:  Maverick
 
 
#7
 
Premiere’s Pick:  City Slickers II: The Legend Of Curly’s Gold
 
The original is not nearly as funny as its proponents have long proclaimed but it’s certainly better than this unnecessary sequel.  The late Bruno Kirby wisely declined to participate a second time so Jon Lovitz takes his place along with the returning Billy Crystal and Daniel Stern.  Lovitz is a very funny comic actor but even he can’t rescue this lame treasure hunt movie.   Jack Palance, who won an Oscar playing the intimidating Curly in the first film, returns as that character’s twin brother.
 
The much loved City Slickers was a major hit in 1991, raking in 124 million.  Number two made a less-than-stellar 44 million.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Fifteenth
 
The Real #7:  The Mask
 
 
#6
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Renaissance Man
 
Hard to believe Penny Marshall (Awakenings, A League Of Their Own) directed this misfire.  Even more baffling is the fact that Premiere believed it would be popular (“…it should do fine in the local multiplex.”).  Despite the presence of the great Danny DeVito and Mark Walhberg (who wisely phased out his silly “Marky Mark” rap persona in favour of a promising movie career), the film offers few laughs or characters to care about.  Premiere’s confidence was misplaced.  The film bottomed out at 24 million.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Out Of The Top 20
 
The Real #6:  Speed
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, August 16, 2008
3:42 p.m.
Published in: on August 16, 2008 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Flashback: Assessing Premiere Magazine’s 1994 Summer Movie Predictions (Part Two)

 
#15
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Beverly Hills Cop III
 
Seven years after last playing Detective Axel Foley, comedian Eddie Murphy returned to his first successful franchise to complete the trilogy, “this time investigating murders at ‘WonderWorld'”, a fictional amusement park.  Producers like the late Don Simpson, along with his partner, Jerry Bruckheimer, and Joel Silver were briefly attached to the project at separate times until the ongoing issues of budgeting and scheduling convinced all of them to work on something else.  Director John Landis was surprised that Murphy wanted to work with him for a third time after what he told Premiere Magazine in its June 1994 issue was “a falling-out on Coming To America“.  (Premiere, itself, referred to it as a “meltdown”.  Trading Places was the other film they collaborated on, by the way.)
 
Ultimately, Premiere sized up its chances:  “[It’s t]he kind of movie that could make $150 million or $50 million.  We’re betting on the latter.”
 
Pretty close.  Beverly Hills Cop III ended up earning just 43 million.  And the magazine was only off by one number with its predicted placement.  Incredibly, a fourth BHC is in the works.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Sixteenth
 
The Real #15:  City Slickers II:  The Legend Of Curly’s Gold
 
 
#14
 
Premiere’s Pick:  The Client
 
A suicidal attorney confesses something criminal to a young boy in a parked car just before he offs himself in this third adaptation of a John Grisham bestseller.  Following on the heels of The Firm and The Pelican Brief, both audience pleasers, The Client had its work cut out for itself.  But Joel Schumacher and his casting director, Mali Finn, hired the late Brad Renfro as the kid, Susan Sarandon as his attorney and Tommy Lee Jones as her opponent in the courtroom which resulted in another box office hit.
 
Despite Sarandon’s Best Actress Oscar nomination, the film is considerably weaker than the earlier Grisham pics.  Nonetheless, while Premiere was correct in saying it wouldn’t make “$100 million-plus”, it still performed solidly, taking in a grand total of 92 million.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Ninth
 
The Real #14:  Angels In The Outfield
 
 
#13
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Baby’s Day Out
 
Easily, one of the worst movies of 1994.  Dangerous, repugnant and cheap.  Premiere described it thusly:  “A baby unwittingly outfoxes a trio of bumbling kidnappers and spends the day solo in a big city.”  Is it any wonder why the magazine also called it “Kevin McAllister in regression”?  It didn’t sound much different from Home Alone which was far funnier and more charming, not to mention far more profitable.  Despite the presence of Joe Mantegna and Joey Pants (as two of the kidnappers), and a much healthier looking Lara Flynn Boyle (as the kid’s mom), three good actors who should’ve turned this one down, the film deservedly tanked.  It earned a mere 17 million.  Hard to believe John Hughes wrote this garbage.  Yeah, whatever happened to that guy?
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Out Of The Top 20
 
The Real #13:  Natural Born Killers
 
Oliver Stone may have upset Quentin Tarantino by making changes to his original screenplay and he may have driven more conservative-minded people batty with the premise (who knows if their outrage was inspired by actually seeing the film), but he made a wonderful late summer satire filled with striking performances and pretty sharp observations.  Woody Harrelson is Mickey and Juliette Lewis is his lady love, Mallory.  Their cross country killing spree strikes a chord with America (one deluded fool holds up a placard that reads, “Murder me, Mickey!”) and that catches the attention of tabloid TV news reporter Robert Downey Jr., an Australian slimeball determined to get an exclusive interview.  Tommy Lee Jones gives another memorable performance as a prison warden.  The much missed Rodney Dangerfield is downright scary playing Mallory’s sexually abusive father.
 
Funny but mostly chilling, which is the whole point of its existence, despite Tarantino’s public complaints, it was the best film of the summer of 1994.  The fact that it was released not too long after OJ Simpson murdered two people in cold blood was unintentionally perfect timing.  It earned 50 million in theatres.
 
 
#12
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Speed
 
A high concept action flick written by the son of the guy that used to host Saturday Night At The Movies on TV Ontario which featured an actor in a genre he had yet to prove himself in.  But when Keanu Reeves signed on to recite dialogue originally constructed by Graham Yost (son of Elwy), no longer would he just be known as Ted Theodore Logan.  In the aptly named Speed, he plays LA cop Jack Traven whose mission is to keep a transit bus moving at no less than 50 miles per hour.  Why?  Because vengeful mad bomber Dennis Hopper has planted a bomb on it that is scheduled to detonate the very second it travels a mile slower.
 
The film also features Jeff Daniels as Reeves’ partner and Sandra Bullock as a passenger stuck with the thankless task of driving the bus.  Not nearly as great as critics made it out to be (Reeves doesn’t always nail his line readings, particularly the ones meant to be funny, and the romantic subplot involving him and Bullock is an unconvincing, unnecessary distraction) but it is indeed a solid thriller, far more ambitious than most action films these days.  Just when you think it’s over, it keeps on going, building even more tension.  Hopper is a clever villain, Reeves is mostly effective as the hero cop and cinematographer Jan De Bont makes a notable debut as director.  Alan Ruck, who plays a fellow passenger stuck in this high stakes situation, has a hilarious moment during the scene where Reeves locates the bomb.  While on the phone to the LAPD, he translates the hero’s emphatic “Fuck me!” into “Oh darn!”
 
Speed performed far better than Premiere expected it to.  It was one of eight summer movies to reach the 100 million dollar mark.  Its overall total:  121 million.  The film’s success guaranteed a sequel but Reeves was replaced by Jason Patric and the resulting follow-up, Speed 2: Cruise Control, was neither well reviewed nor popular.  Reeves would go on to far greater heights playing Neo in The Matrix Trilogy.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Sixth
 
The Real #12:  The Crow
 
How sad that a second generation action hero never got to savour the fame this film brought him because of a preventable accident late in the shooting.  (Jeffrey Goodell’s thorough account of the incident in the July 1993 issue of Premiere expertly details how it all happened.)  Brandon Lee, the charismatic son of Bruce who also died young (in his case, it “was caused by brain swelling due to an allergic reaction to a painkiller”, as mentioned in Goodell’s story), plays the title character, a vengeful man in black resurrected from death to take care of those responsible for his demise as well as the murder of his fiance.  It’s a good movie.  And yet, Premiere never mentioned it at all in their 1994 summer preview.  With the exception of an ad (really, the poster) for it on page 115 (right next to the last page of the “It Could Happen To Them” article, coincidentally), it failed to get even the smallest mention.  Originally made for Paramount, Miramax Films, through its Dimension imprint, bought the rights to release it after Lee’s death made the former owner squeamish.  They made a nice, tidy profit.  When all was said and done, The Crow raked in 51 million.  Sequels like The Crow: City Of Angels (featuring the great Iggy Pop) and The Crow: Salvation never garnered the same commercial and critical respect.  Had he lived, Lee would’ve reprised his role for both of those follow-ups.
 
 
#11
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Forrest Gump
 
“This could be the summer sleeper.”  And yet, Premiere seriously underestimated just how successful this heartwarming and very funny epic dramedy would become.  Although there were naysayers (notably Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly and later, filmmaker John Waters, who goofed on it in his dreadful 2000 flop, Cecil B. Demented), most were deeply affected by this Robert Zemeckis smash which had remarkable staying power.  Already an Oscar winner for Best Actor, Tom Hanks would enter a new realm of superstardom when he captured a second one for playing the adult version of the title character, a rare repeat.  And the film would beat out Pulp Fiction for Best Picture, as well as taking other deserving trophies.  It was that rare moment when the people’s favourite was warmly embraced by the industry.
 
Who knew this “summer sleeper” would make 330 million?  Premiere sure didn’t.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  First
 
The Real #11:  The Little Rascals
 
Maybe you have to be a certain age to appreciate a film like this.  Personally, it was hard to sit through.  With the exception of a couple of effective jokes near the end, this reimagining of Hal Roach’s famous gang of overly precocious troublemakers, like Rob Reiner’s North, is the very definition of torture.  Directed by Penelope Spheeris (who made Wayne’s World, for Christ’s sake!), it’s a horrible waste of time.  Understandably, Premiere didn’t think it would find an audience but sadly, it did, to the tune of 52 million.  It got a brief mention in its “It Could Happen To Them” article.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
8:10 p.m.
 
CORRECTION:  In the section devoted to The Crow, it was originally noted that the deaths of both Brandon and Bruce Lee were “mysterious” and “puzzling”.  Having read Jeffrey Goodell’s terrific article, about that fateful day in 1993 when the former was accidentally killed during a pivotal take, in the July 1993 issue of Premiere Magazine, I’ve learned that this isn’t the case at all.  In painstaking detail, Goodell lays out how and why Brandon is no longer with us.  Basically, cost cutting, inexperience with weaponry, awful shooting conditions and negligence were the culprits.  That same article sums up the autopsy results of his father’s death which his widow, Linda Lee Cadwell, accepts to be the truth.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, August 16, 2008
4:10 p.m.
Published in: on August 12, 2008 at 8:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Flashback: Assessing Premiere Magazine’s 1994 Summer Movie Predictions (Part One)

They were 2 for 20 in 1992 and 4 for 20 in 1993.  (Pitiful.)  But how did Premiere Magazine’s Top 20 predictions for the 1994 summer movie season turn out?  Let’s examine the evidence five films at a time:
 
#20
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Wolf
 
Weird things have been happening to book editor Jack Nicholson ever since he got bitten.  He’s more easily irritable, his sex drive is higher, the range of his hearing has expanded and he’s getting hairier.  That’s the set-up for this entertaining Mike Nichols film which also stars Michelle Pfeiffer.  Coming two years after Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Premiere Magazine in its June 1994 issue didn’t have much faith in its financial prospects.  They claimed that the production was “troubled”, that aging lothario Nicholson was “a little long in the tooth to be a romantic lead”, and that the film was “[t]oo adult for summer audience[s]”.
 
How wrong they were.  Far from being “left behind”, Wolf became a hit, earning a respectable 65 million during its summer run.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Tenth
 
The Real #20:  Blown Away
 
 
#19
 
Premiere’s Pick:  The Cowboy Way
 
This forgettable buddy movie was summed up thusly by Premiere:  “Two cowboys (Woody Harrelson and Kiefer Sutherland) search for their buddy in Manhattan.”  Dylan McDermott (who played Clint Eastwood’s doomed partner in In The Line Of Fire), Marg Helgenberger, and Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson also appear.
 
Some movies stay with you even if you only saw them once many moons ago.  That’s not the case with The Cowboy Way.  It’s been 14 years since I screened it at my local multiplex and if you asked me to give you a full and detailed plot analysis, you’d get nothing but silence from me.  I just don’t remember much of what happened, which is just as well because it was an awful, unfunny action comedy.  That, I do recall.
 
“It’ll trot rather than gallop,” proclaimed Premiere.  Not quite.  The Cowboy Way actually crawled to a meagre final total of just 20 million.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Out Of The Top 20
 
The Real #19:  I Love Trouble
 
 
#18
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Blown Away
 
Oscar winner Tommy Lee Jones is an Irish bomber who’s after Jeff Bridges in this uneven thriller.  The latter is a former member of the Boston bomb squad whose close friend has been killed by the former.  Both men are out for revenge.  One wants to avenge the murder of his colleague.  The other wants to wreak havoc on the retired law enforcement agent who helped put him in prison.
 
Directed by Stephen Hopkins (Judgment Night, Predator 2), the film almost worked for me but not quite.  It was certainly better than a couple of his earlier offerings. Premiere thought it would do ok and they were right.  It earned 30 million altogether.  As usual, they just got the placement wrong.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Twentieth
 
The Real #18:  The Shadow
 
Alec Baldwin plays the title character in this stylish cinematic adaptation of the famous radio hero.  It didn’t earn nearly enough money to spawn a franchise (32 million) but it is a good picture that was made during the period where the temperamental Baldwin still cared about being in shape.  The film got a brief mention in the “It Could Happen To Them” section.  (“These films will need a little good fortune to break the $40 million mark”)
 
 
#17
 
Premiere’s Pick:  North
 
Good Lord, this was a disaster.  Elijah Wood is fed up with his real parents (Seinfeld’s constantly bickering Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Alexander) so he goes on a hunt for better ones.  For some unknown reason, Bruce Willis appears in a bunny outfit.  Roger Ebert hated, hated, hated this movie and so did I, as did many, many others.  I don’t remember there being one single laugh, not even a guffaw, in this awful, mean-spirited mess.  It is the sheer cinematic equivalent of torture.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve been exhibiting this down in Gitmo.  At his roast, friends of Rob Reiner delighted in reading the dreadful reviews the movie received.
 
Incredibly, Premiere made the following pronouncement about its fate:  “Reiner pulls it out of the postproduction fire, and the multiplex ticket-holders line faces North.”.  The 40 million dollar production made a grand total of 7 million, almost half of which was made in its opening three days.  Way to call it, Premiere.  No wonder you’re not publishing monthly issues anymore.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Out Of The Top 20
 
The Real #17:  It Could Happen To You
 
Originally entitled Cop Gives Waitress $2 Million Tip, this is a very sweet, amusing romantic comedy with Nicolas Cage, as the most normal guy he’s ever played on screen, falling for the quietly depressed but eternally lovely Bridget Fonda.  Cage doesn’t have enough money to leave for a tip for the kind Fonda so he promises that if he wins the lottery he’ll share his earnings with her.  Naturally, skepticism abounds but this is a movie so, of course, he wins and, of course, he keeps his word.  This greatly annoys his shallow, uber-materialistic wife (Rosie Perez nicely playing against type) and soon, their marriage starts to crumble.  (It’s a bit of a contrivance that they would ever be together but never mind.  She’s funny playing the bitch here.)  Meanwhile, Fonda is trying to fend off her slimy husband (Stanley Tucci), an actor who she still hasn’t divorced yet and who has suspiciously made himself at home in her apartment.  You can pretty much guess what happens but the film has charm and Cage & Fonda make a fetching couple who end up becoming the talk of New York City.
 
This is a much better feature than writer/director Andrew Bergman’s Honeymoon In Vegas, which also starred Cage.  It’s one of those movies you catch on TV sometimes and you can’t help watching it again.  Although it works as a comedy, it’s that endearing romance between the cop and the waitress that is the heart and soul of the movie.  The film ultimately made a decent 38 million during its run in theatres.  It’s a good date movie to rent.  Premiere noted it in its “It Could Happen To Them” section.
 
 
#16
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Angels In The Outfield
 
This annoying remake of the 1951 black and white original might be one of the worst baseball movies ever made.  It’s right up there with Rookie Of The Year as far as lacklustre sports comedies are concerned.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who was so much better in The Lookout) plays a California Angels fan (as The Los Angeles Angels Of Anaheim were once known) who prays to God for help to get the team into the playoffs.  Bad special effects soon arrive to grant the kid’s wish.  Dermot Mulroney plays his dad and Danny Glover plays the skip.
 
Premiere came close with the placement of this one.  Sadly, it made 50 million.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Fourteenth
 
The Real #16:  Beverly Hills Cop III
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Friday, August 8, 2008
3:39 p.m. 
Published in: on August 8, 2008 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Flashback: Assessing Premiere Magazine’s 1993 Summer Movie Predictions (Part Four)

 
#5
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Hot Shots! Part Deux
 
The first one was a goof on Top Gun.  This very funny sequel is all about razzing Rambo.  Charlie Sheen, way back in his movie star phase, once again plays Topper Harley.  The American President, Lloyd Bridges, calls him back into duty (Topper’s in Thailand at the start) in order to thwart the efforts of one Saddam Hussein, whose famous Gulf War catchphrase, “The mother of all battles has just begun”, was cannily reworked as an ad slogan for the original Hot Shots!  (“The mother of all movies!”)
 
Premiere Magazine, in its June 1993 issue, had high hopes for this one, suggesting that because the second Naked Gun movie outperformed its predecessor, Part Deux would do the same thing.  It didn’t.  All it could take in was 39 million, slightly more than half of the original Hot Shots!  Needless to say, that was the end of the franchise.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Seventeenth
 
The Real #5:  In The Line Of Fire
 
 
#4
 
Premiere’s Pick & The Real #4:  Sleepless In Seattle
 
Three years after Joe Vs. The Volcano, Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks reteamed for this charming Nora Ephron blockbuster.  The premise is perfect for this Internet Age.  Hanks is a lonely widow whose young son is worried about him.  The kid calls in to a chat show to try to get him a date.  Dad catches him and he ends up revealing his vulnerability over the airwaves.  Soon, they are inundated with mail from equally lonely women hoping to hook up.  Ryan, a reporter already spoken for (she’s involved with the allergy-suffering Bill Pullman), hears the broadcast and is determined to meet him.  Hanks’ son is the stubborn sort hoping his dad will ultimately give her a chance.  Long distance is a huge hurdle, though.
 
The beauty of the film is that the characters fall in love long before their fateful first meeting on top of The Empire State Building (although there is an airport scene where Hanks spots Ryan for the first time and is immediately smitten, not realizing who she really is).  It’s both funny and sweet.  Premiere said it best in their dead-on prediction:  “The women’s movie of ’93; many a boyfriend will be dragged along.”  It was the most successful romantic comedy of the summer earning 127 million.
 
 
#3
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Dennis The Menace
 
No, it’s not my life story but rather a live-action comedy (there’s already been a cartoon series for Television) based on the long running comic strip by Hal Ketchum.  After an extensive search, incredibly annoying Mason Gamble won the role of the title character.  Walter Matthau plays the understandably grouchy Mr. Wilson.  Throw in a lousy villain played by Christopher Lloyd and it’s easy to see why this one underperformed.  Too much like Home Alone, which was a lot better.
 
Sadly, Premiere thought otherwise.  Overall, the film raked in 51 million.  Thankfully, there have been no sequels.  Let’s keep it that way.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Eleventh
 
The Real #3:  The Firm
 
 
#2
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Last Action Hero
 
Before it opened on June 18th, 1993, this was considered a sure thing.  In a photo caption describing a shot of Arnold Schwarzenegger jumping through a hoop of fire, which can be seen on the first Contents page of Premiere’s June 1993 issue, it was already referred to as a “blockbuster”.  That wasn’t the only publication to jump the gun.  Either Marquee, Tribute or both used the same adjective during the same period.  There may have been others.  Premiere predicted that it wouldn’t be as big as Terminator 2 “but no one will be complaining.”.
 
Oops.  Bad reviews and an indifferent moviegoing public, who were far more interested in other offerings, translated into a 50 million box office total.  It’s a shame, really, because Last Action Hero is actually a very good film.  No, really.  The action is well done and I thought it was very funny.  I’m serious.  Ok, so the premise wasn’t quite original (Sherlock Holmes Jr. and The Purple Rose Of Cairo had covered this ground before) but nevertheless, the film is very entertaining.  Oh well.  I’m guess I’m in the minority on this one.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Twelve
 
The Real #2:  The Fugitive
 
 
#1
 
Premiere’s Pick & The Real #1:  Jurassic Park
 
This was the second consecutive year that Premiere correctly predicted the summer box office champion.  In 1992, it was Batman Returns that generated the most money.  But it paled in comparison, in more ways than one, to one of two spectacular Steven Spielberg movies issued within 6 months of each other the following year.  (The extraordinarily involving Schindler’s List was, of course, the other.)
 
Based on a very good novel by Michael Crichton, it tells the tale of an ambitious entrepreneur (wonderfully played by Sir Richard Attenborough) who invites some scientists (Sam Neill, Laura Dern, the amusing and prophetic Jeff Goldblum) along with his grandkids (Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzolo) to his new Costa Rican-based amusement complex, Jurassic Park, for a test run before it opens to the public.  His team of technological wizards have cracked the DNA code for dinosaurs resulting in some pretty amazing special effects (a mix of CGI and animatronics).  As Goldblum correctly predicts, however, something is bound to go wrong which leads to some exhilarating and scary action sequences.
 
Incredibly, with the exception of Liz Braun of The Toronto Sun (who gave it 5 suns out of 5), the film was underrated by critics.  Reviews, for the most part, were good, not superb.  For me, it was one of four great summer movies issued that year (The Fugitive, In The Line Of Fire and What’s Love Got To Do With It were the others.).  The visuals don’t overwhelm the characters or the story and it’s difficult not to be absorbed by every second of it.  The film is smart, exciting, funny and endlessly entertaining.  It’s no wonder it went on to make 357 million dollars in North America alone.  A disappointing sequel, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, also directed by Spielberg, appeared in 1997.  The underrated Jurassic Park III surfaced in 2001. 
 
 
Premiere’s Full List Of Predictions (Overall Score:  4 for 20)
 
1. Jurassic Park
2. Last Action Hero
3. Dennis The Menace
4. Sleepless In Seattle
5. Hot Shots! Part Deux
6. The Firm
7. Free Willy
8. In The Line Of Fire
9. Rising Sun
10. Sliver
11. Cliffhanger
12. Made In America
13. Super Mario Bros.
14. Dave
15. For Love Or Money
16. The Fugitive
17. Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs (Disney Re-issue)
18. Poetic Justice
19. True Romance
20. Hocus Pocus
 
The Top 20 Grossing Summer Films Of 1993
 
1. Jurassic Park ($357,067,947)
2. The Fugitive ($183,875,760)
3. The Firm ($158,348,367)
4. Sleepless In Seattle ($126,680,884)
5. In The Line Of Fire ($102,314,823)
6. Cliffhanger ($84,049,211)
7. Free Willy ($77,698,625)
8. Dave ($63,270,710)
9. Rising Sun ($63,179,523)
10. Rookie Of The Year ($53,615,089)
11. Dennis The Menace ($51,270,765)
12. Last Action Hero ($50,016,394)
13. Made In America ($44,942,695)
14. Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs ($41,634,471)
15. Hocus Pocus ($39,514,713)
16. What’s Love Got To Do With It ($39,100,956)
17. Hot Shots! Part Deux ($38,922,972)
18. Son-In-Law ($36,448,400)
19. Sliver ($36,300,000)
20. Robin Hood: Men In Tights ($35,739,755)
 
(All figures taken from Box Office Mojo.)
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, August 7, 2008
3:17 p.m.
Published in: on August 7, 2008 at 3:17 pm  Comments (1)  

Flashback: Assessing Premiere Magazine’s 1993 Summer Movie Predictions (Part Three)

 
#10
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Sliver
 
Sharon Stone was the hottest thing on two legs after the release of Basic Instinct in the spring of 1992.  Instead of steering clear of erotic thrillers, however, she plunged right into another one the following summer.  Based on the novel by Ira Levin (who also wrote A Kiss Before Dying), she plays a short-haired cutie named Carly whose new apartment has been the scene of many murders.  Not only that, someone is secretly watching the comings and goings of every tenant in a secret surveillance room, easily the most interesting aspect of the film.  William Baldwin and Tom Berenger also starred in this disappointment, yet another movie with a ridiculous ending.
 
Premiere Magazine had high hopes for it when they counted down their picks for the Top 20 summer grossers of 1993 in their June issue.  Despite being produced by Robert Evans (The Godfather, Chinatown), Sliver only sold 36 million worth of tickets.  Stone would redeem herself with a very good performance in Martin Scorsese’s Casino two years later.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Nineteenth
 
The Real #10:  Rookie Of The Year
 
Daniel Stern made his directorial debut with this surprise hit about a kid who accidentally develops a killer fastball after a fateful fall which leads to an unlikely gig pitching for The Chicago Cubs.  I thought little of this unfunny misfire the two occasions I screened it but audiences strongly disagreed.  The film, which featured real life ball players like Barry Bonds and John Candy as a play-by-play announcer, ultimately made 54 million.  Premiere mentioned it in its “Underdogs and Overachievers” section.
 
 
#9
 
Premiere’s Pick & The Real #9:  Rising Sun
 
After eleven misses, they finally got one right.  One of two summer hits based on Michael Crichton bestsellers, Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes are police officers called in to investigate a sexually based murder in a Japanese corporation’s boardroom.  Wayne Campbell’s girlfriend, Tia Carrere, also stars.
 
Critics were mixed but that didn’t deter audiences.  The film did reasonably well earning roughly 63 million during its entire theatrical run.
 
 
#8
 
Premiere’s Pick:  In The Line Of Fire
 
Clint Eastwood had a very strong 1993.  Between collecting two Oscars for producing and directing the great Unforgiven and overseeing the release of the underrated A Perfect World (which featured Kevin Costner in one of his best performances), there was this first-rate thriller directed by Wolfgang Petersen (who would go on to make The Perfect Storm).  Eastwood plays a guilt-ridden Secret Service agent still smarting over not being able to protect President Kennedy that awful day in Texas.  Thirty years later, former CIA employee John Malkovich is following in the footsteps of Lee Harvey Oswald by plotting to kill the current American leader.
 
Alternately gripping and funny, it was easily one of 1993’s best offerings.  After they failed to foresee the blockbuster qualities inherent in Unforgiven, Premiere was not about to let this one escape their notice.  In the end, In The Line Of Fire did about the same business as Eastwood’s western sleeper.  It made a very robust 102 million.  As usual, Premiere got the placement wrong.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Fifth
 
The Real #8:  Dave
 
 
#7
 
Premiere’s Pick & The Real #7:  Free Willy
 
Even though that damn trailer gave away the whole movie, the family audience still came out for it.  Jason James Richter, in a nice, unaffected performance, plays a kid whose life changes for the better when he gradually bonds with a killer whale in captivity.  Michael Madsen of all people plays his foster dad.  Normally the heel in movie after movie, he shows his range in this rare good guy role.  Lori Petty (A League Of Their Own) and August Schellenberg are fine here, as well.
 
I was surprised how much I enjoyed the film.  After disliking Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, I was even more surprised that I liked Free Willy 3, as well.  Premiere nailed this one right on the head.
 
 
#6
 
Premiere’s Pick:  The Firm
 
John Grisham’s second novel about a naive law graduate who unwittingly ends up working for a firm corrupted by the mob became his first bestseller and the first to be adapted for the big screen.  Tom Cruise nearly directed this two and a half hour thriller which also starred Gene Hackman, Jeanne Tripplehorn, David Strathairn and Wilford Brimley in an unexpectedly villainous turn.  Despite its length, it became a major blockbuster.  Holly Hunter received a controversial Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.
 
I preferred the ending in the novel.  Nevertheless, despite paling in comparison to other summer offerings like In The Line Of Fire and What’s Love Got To Do With It, it’s still a good popcorn movie.  It was the biggest success of July 1993 earning a solid 158 million.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Third
 
The Real #6:  Cliffhanger
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
10:04 p.m.
Published in: on August 5, 2008 at 10:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Flashback: Assessing Premiere Magazine’s 1993 Summer Movie Predictions (Part Two)

 
#15
 
Premiere’s Pick:  For Love Or Money
 
Originally entitled The Concierge, Michael J. Fox plays what would’ve been the title character, a hotel employee desperate to start his own business.  He makes a deal with a potential investor but there’s a catch.  Before he gets the money, he has to spend some time with Gabrielle Anwar (Al Pacino’s tango partner in Scent Of A Woman), a beautiful young woman who the investor is having an affair with.  As Premiere Magazine aptly put it in its June 1993 issue, “Guess what happens.”
 
However, the film did not get released in July, as expected.  It got bumped to October where it only managed to earn a paltry 11 million, far from the “solid hit” Premiere was expecting.  Not good considering it cost 30 million to make.  The movie was directed by Barry Sonnenfeld who at that point was best known for making The Addams Family.  (The sequel, Addams Family Values, arrived in theatres a month and a half after For Love Or Money.)  Today, he’s best known for those hugely successful Men In Black movies.  Having seen For Love Or Money at the time of its short run, I can understand why it flopped.  It’s not very good (the premise is weak and there aren’t many laughs) despite the appealing leads.
 
The Real #15:  Hocus Pocus
 
 
#14
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Dave
 
Producer Ivan Reitman’s Dave is a charmer about two very different men played by Kevin Kline.  Using The Prince & The Pauper as its inspiration, Dave Kovic, the kindly owner of a temp agency, is called into duty by the US government because he just happens to look exactly like President Bill Mitchell who is incapacitated by a stroke while in the middle of extramarital sex.  It’s a contrived set-up, naturally, but it works wonderfully well, thanks to the funny script and terrific performances across the board.  Sigourney Weaver does a nice turn as The First Lady.  Frank Langella is in his element playing the scheming Chief Of Staff.
 
The film actually opened in early May, which, for some weird reason is considered the beginning of the summer movie season.  (The first Spider-Man opened in the same month nine years later.)  Nevertheless, it faced stiff competition in the form of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story which I loathed when I screened it during a special sneak preview.  (It’s not the film biography the kung fu legend deserved.)  While Dragon came on strong out of the gate, Dave garnered momentum over time as word of mouth spread about its quality.  In the end, the film did much better than Premiere expected it to.  It earned a healthy 63 million.  Dragon only made 35 million.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Eighth
 
The Real #14:  Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs
 
 
#13
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Super Mario Bros.
 
Generally, movies based on video games are shit.  I offer you Super Mario Bros. as a clearcut example.  Based on the Nintendo phenomenon (itself a sequel to the original arcade game, Mario Bros.), the film version is about two plumbers.  John Leguizamo plays Luigi, the thin one, and Bob Hoskins plays Mario, the fat one.  (What?  Captain Lou Albano wasn’t available?)  They’re on a mission to save a beautiful princess (the always lovely Samantha Mathis from Pump Up The Volume) who’s being held prisoner by King Koopa (Dennis Hopper).  It’s extremely sad that the only thing I liked about this disaster was Hopper’s tongue.  It had almost nothing going for it and yet, Premiere in its infinite wisdom, thought it would be a commercial success.
 
Wrong!  The film was only able to recover 21 milllion of its original 48 million budget.  I’m amazed it made even that amount.  Such a useless piece of junk that is rightfully forgotten.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Out Of The Top 20
 
The Real #13:  Made In America
 
 
#12
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Made In America
 
It was one of the least likely celebrity romances ever.  Whoopi Goldberg and Ted Danson?  Who could’ve predicted it?  In Made In America, Danson plays a used car salesman whose sperm was used to create Goldberg’s daughter, the fetching Nia Long, who is shocked by this revelation.  I never bought their chemistry onscreen.  In fact, the more charming and convincing couple are Long and Will Smith who would again play a romantic pair on the latter’s NBC sitcom, The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air.  When the movie focuses on the younger couple, it’s entertaining.  The rest of the time it just doesn’t work.
 
Premiere came very close to getting this one exactly right.  They were off by one number.  The film made 45 milion during its cinematic jaunt.  The constant publicity about Ted & Whoopi couldn’t translate into superb reviews or huge returns.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Thirteen
 
The Real #12:  Last Action Hero
 
 
#11
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Cliffhanger
 
The audience didn’t want to see Sylvester Stallone in a comedy.  Both Oscar (a funny farce worth a rental) and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (not worth renting) were soundly rejected.  So, what’s an aging adonis to do?  Make an action pic.  Pronto!
 
The result was this so-so Renny Harlin flick filmed in The Italian Alps.  It was the last R-rated movie I snuck in to see before turning 18.  Rounding out the cast are John Lithgow as the heel and Janine Turner (before her botched facelift) as Sly’s love interest.  It has its moments and the cinematography is spectacular but it just doesn’t come together for me overall.
 
The film ended up performing better that Premiere anticipated.  It made a healthy 84 million in theatres.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Sixth
 
The Real #11:  Dennis The Menace
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
2:16 p.m.
Published in: on August 5, 2008 at 2:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Flashback: Assessing Premiere Magazine’s 1993 Summer Movie Predictions (Part One)

“Nobody knows anything.”
 
It’s the enduring mantra of Hollywood.  Just when you think you have a surefire hit on your hands, it crashes and burns, leaving you with a deflated ego and less money in your bank account.  And then, there are the sleepers, the seemingly troubled productions that somehow, someway defy industry expectations to become unlikely blockbusters and potential Oscar winners.
 
Making predictions about anything is risky business.  No matter how informed you are, no matter how lucky you are, it’s impossible to call everything perfectly.  This is most especially true about the summer movie season.  Last year in this space, I went through the now-defunct Premiere Magazine’s picks for the Top 20 warm weather commercial successes of 1992.  (They’re strictly an online-only venture now.)  After reading their summer preview section in their June 1992 issue, I thought it would be fun to look over their list of predictions and see how well they did, 15 years after the fact.
 
So, how did they do?  Terribly.  (Click on the Newspapers, Books & Magazines section and scroll down to see the four-part series.)  Overall, they batted 2 for 20.  (Batman Returns and Lethal Weapon 3 were the only titles whose placements they got absolutely right.)  To be fair, they had good instincts about how a number of films would perform.  They just didn’t get the order right.
 
Now that I’ve finished reading the June 1993 and June 1994 editions, it’s time to see if Premiere redeemed itself.  Let’s start with the first five titles on their ’93 list:
 
 
#20
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Hocus Pocus
 
Sarah Jessica Parker, Sister Act’s Kathy Najimy and Bette Midler are long dead witches brought back to life in this dreadful Disney comedy.  Sexy Vinessa Shaw, Thora Birch and Omri Katz are the young heroes out to kill ’em again.  Reviews were lousy (Roger Ebert complained on TV that some of the witches’ dialogue was hard to hear) and as anticipated by Premiere, it was a commercial disappointment (with a modest overall gross of 40 million).  Unfortunately, despite being right about its general fate, it got the placement wrong.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Fifteenth
 
The Real #20:  Robin Hood: Men In Tights
 
After his underappreciated romantic comedy, Life Stinks, came and went in the summer of 1991, expectations were low for Mel Brooks’ 1993 follow-up.  Two years after Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, had the time to make fun of this Kevin Costner blockbuster, as well as its more respected predecessors, long passed?  Not at all, it turned out.  It wasn’t a huge success (36 million) but this intermittently funny parody still managed to find a small audience, thanks to its game cast led by Cary Elwes who plays Robin.  Men In Tights is probably the only film in history to cast then-unknown comic Dave Chappelle (in his first movie role) and soul legend Issac Hayes as Ahchoo and Asneeze, respectively.  Premiere mentioned it in its “Underdogs and Overachievers” section.  (“They’ll need a litle luck to reap box office gold – but these releases have a chance”)
 
 
#19
 
Premiere’s Pick:  True Romance
 
A comic book store employee (Christian Slater) and a blonde prostitute (Patricia Arquette) find unexpected love in a movie theatre but soon find themselves on the run from law enforcement and some pretty nefarious characters because of a suitcase full of cocaine they end up possessing in this Quentin Tarantino-scripted gem.  Originally half of a much longer screenplay that included the story for Natural Born Killers, True Romance was split from the original work and sold to Warner Bros. so he could finance the making of Reservoir Dogs.  Directed by Tony Scott, it features a superb cast which includes Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman (with dreads!), Dennis Hopper, Michael Madsen, Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer as the Ghost of Elvis, Slater’s go-to guy for advice.
 
Unfortunately, the film didn’t receive a summer release.  It was bumped to the second week of September (what was its original release date, I wonder?) where, much like Dogs, it didn’t attract a sizable audience.  (Its total box office take:  12 million.)  Since its video release in 1994, however, it’s become a cult favourite.  I enjoyed the film when I saw it in a theatre, although that ending (not in the original script) was completely bogus.  (Explain to me again how it’s possible to survive a bullet in the eye?)  Despite being eclipsed by Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, True Romance proved that even a Tarantino script, directed by someone other than Tarantino, can still work wonders. 
 
“Is the public at large ready for Tarantino’s blood-soaked, violence-can-be-funny-too style?” asked Premiere.  The answer was…not yet.  Not until Pulp could this type of movie bring in the herd.
 
The Real #19:  Sliver
 
 
#18
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Poetic Justice
 
It was a stunning debut.  Smart, insightful, shocking, moving and tragic.  And it led to two much deserved Academy Award nominations for writing and directing.  John Singleton’s Boyz N The Hood was one of 1991’s best achievements.  Released in July, it stunned critics and audiences.  The film school graduate was on his way.
 
But two years later, he offered a tepid follow-up.  Janet Jackson plays a poet named Justice (get it?) who finds herself drawn to a postman (rapper Tupac Shakur).  Along with Regina King and her boyfriend (Joe Torry), they go on a road trip.  Siskel & Ebert were believers but not me and certainly not audiences who stayed away from the middle picture of Singleton’s South Central trilogy.
 
“Less bountiful than Boyz, but a money-maker all the same,” predicted Premiere.  Right on the first count, wrong on the second.  Yes, the movie didn’t come close to the first film’s 58 million take.  But its accumulated total of 27 million was far from stellar.  Singleton would redeem himself artistically with the far superior Higher Learning in 1995.  Rosewood, his fourth film which came and went in early 1997, is his best since Boyz.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Out Of The Top 20
 
The Real #18:  Son-In-Law
 
A year after appearing in the modest hit, Encino Man, dunderheaded MTV VJ turned dunderheaded comic actor Pauly Shore returned in this not-so-bad-but-still-not-good July offering.  Sometimes funny but utterly predictable, the fish-out-of-water comedy (which also stars the beautiful Carla Cugino) charmed audiences to the tune of 36 million which was slightly less than Encino Man’s 41 million total.  It was briefly mentioned in the “Underdogs and Overachievers” article.
 
 
#17
 
Premiere’s Pick:  Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs
 
Disney’s first animated feature received yet another theatrical run in the summer of 1993.  First unveiled in 1937, the film was not yet on home video by the time of its eighth and final re-release that year.  Over its long life, the film has accumulated nearly 200 million in domestic ticket sales.  In other words, it’s been seen and adored by a whole slew of multi-generational eyeballs.  Premiere looked liked geniuses when they proclaimed that it would easily earn 40 million.  It earned roughly 42 million.  Pretty damn close.  Unfortunately, like Hocus Pocus, they put it on the wrong spot on their list.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Fourteenth
 
The Real #17:  Hot Shots! Part Deux
 
 
#16
 
Premiere’s Pick:  The Fugitive
 
Hard to believe this Best Picture nominee was not picked to be a bigger hit by the magazine.  One of the best TV-to-big-screen transformations ever made, Harrison Ford took over the role of the wrongly convicted doctor who manages to escape confinement in order to track down the man who really killed his beautiful wife (the ageless and briefly seen Sela Ward): an one-armed man with an ugly mug.  Tommy Lee Jones won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for playing the law enforcement agent who gradually believes in his innocence but nonetheless leads the effort to re-capture him.  Filled with memorable dialogue, top-notch performances, superb action and Joey Pants (as one of Jones’ colleagues), it was not only one of the best films released that summer, it was one of the best films of that year, period.
 
And yet, Premiere thought that moviegoers under the age of 40 would resist because they supposedly weren’t familiar with the original TV show.  They also asserted that the “MTV generation thinks ‘one-armed man’ is the drummer in Def Leppard.”  In the end, Warner Bros. and director Andrew Davis (who also made Steven Seagal’s best movie, Under Siege) had the last laugh and then some.  Premiere’s skepticism notwithstanding, The Fugitive brought in an astounding 184 million.
 
Where The Movie Actually Finished:  Second
 
The Real #16:  What’s Love Got To Do With It
 
Without a doubt, the most compelling movie I saw in the summer of 1993.  (Only Schindler’s List was better that year overall.)  Terrific music, gripping performances by Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne as Tina and Ike Turner, respectively, and a story that is both harrowing and remarkably hopeful at the same time.  To say the picture is an inspiration would be an understatement.  Revelatory and greatly entertaining, you learn firsthand how much of a nightmare the influential Ike could really be.  The contrast between their public musicmaking and their private tug-of-war is striking.  Now deceased after failing to steer clear of drugs, Ike’s legacy, ironically and unmistakably, pales in comparison to the talented woman he mercilessly failed to break down and tame.
 
Although it wasn’t stated in the June 1993 issue of Premiere, it’s likely the reason the magazine didn’t put this great film on its Top 20 was because of its dark, realistic tone.  But audiences weren’t afraid of the heavier moments.  The film brought in a respectable 39 million and earned its two leads much deserved Oscar nominations.  The film got a brief notice in the “Underdogs and Overachievers” article.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Monday, August 4, 2008
10:10 p.m.
Published in: on August 4, 2008 at 10:10 pm  Leave a Comment