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. 
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Published in: on August 8, 2008 at 3:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

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