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

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
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.
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
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.
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.
Published in: on August 17, 2008 at 4:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

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