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

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
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.
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
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
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)  

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  1. I didn’t know that reviewers were critical of Jurassic Park- but I suppose looking back now I can understand. I remember reading (at the time) that Spielberg had every intention to do the film with the same stop-motion animatic techniques- just like the old-ooold movie king kong… he had simply planned to use the best technology available to make it look as good as possible. However, somebody showed him test footage of CGI dinosaur, and he was so blown away he decided to use that approach. The movie was sooooo successful because it was the first time anybody saw realistic dinosaurs on the screen. (Keep in mind that the greatest visual achievement up until that point was the liquid TX-1000 from T2…another of your favs.) Even though I enjoyed the plot and story structure of the movie, I feel it did pale in comparison next to the book. The book was THAT good and perhaps even back then critics weren’t going to give in to JUST cool graphics. I also feel the sequels were less successful because at that point people were becoming used to the visual magic of ILM. Still, that being said, it’s a shock that so many critics gave Phantom Menace such high praises simply because of its’ spectacle. I’m surprised Liz Braun liked it because I generally disagree with her reviews and writing style. Oh well. Good blast-from-the-past article!

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