Monday, September 2, 2013

Top Ten Box Office Hits of 1985

The year was 1985.
In World News: Soviet leader Chernenko died at the age of 73 and was replaced Mikhail Gorbachev, two Shi'ite Muslim gunmen captured a TWA airliner with 133 aboard (104 of them were Americans), and Reagan and Gorbachev agreed to meet at a Summit conference and agreed to step up arms control talks and renew cultural contacts.
In US News: Ronald Reagan took oath for the second term as the 40th President, General Westmoreland settled libel action against CBS, and the US Supreme Court voted 5-4 to bar public school teachers from teaching in parochial schools.
In Sports News: San Francisco defeated Miami 38-16 at the Super Bowl, Kansas City defeated St. Louis 4 games to 3 in the World Series, and the LA Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics 4 games to 2 in the NBA Championship.
In the Entertainment News: Actor Rock Hudson died of AIDS (the first major star to fall victim to the disease), Madonna launched her first road show "The Virgin Tour", and dozens of top-name musicians and bands performed at the Live Aid concerts in Philadelphia and London which benefitted the African famine victims.
In the Box Office, we saw the releases of "Explorers", "Better Off Dead", "Just One of the Guys", "Enemy Mine", "Real Genius", "Vision Quest", "A Chorus Line", "Return of the Living Dead", "Clue", "Ladyhawke", "Young Sherlock Holmes", "The Care Bears Movie", "Weird Science", "Fright Night", "Teen Wolf", "Desperately Seeking Susan", "Commando", "St. Elmo's Fire", "Pee Wee's Big Adventure", "The Breakfast Club", "A View to a Kill", and "Fletch".
What were the Top Ten Box Office Hits of 1985?  Here's the countdown...
Two bumbling government employees think they are U.S. spies, only to discover that they are actually decoys for Nuclear War.  "Spies Like Us" was just one of few movies with a subliminal nuclear theme as nuclear missiles and the threat of nuclear war was on the forefront of international news in 1985 as well as a year or two before that.  This film starred Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Forrest, Donna Dixon, and co-starred Bruce Davison, and Bernie Casey.  At the Box Office, it earned over $60 million.
A group of kids embark on a wild adventure after finding a pirate treasure map.  "The Goonies" starred Sean Astin, Josh Brolin, Jeff Cohen, Corey Feldman, Kerri Green, Marth Plimpton, and Jonathan Ke Quean (this was the film premiere for Sean, Josh, and Kerri).  With Cyndi Lauper's title track being a chart-topper on the Billboard charts, this adventurous and fun film brought in over $61.3 million at the Box Office.
When a young Amish boy is sole witness to a murder, policeman John Book goes into hiding in the Amish country to protect him until the trial.  Directed by Peter Weir, "Witness" was nominated for 8 Academy Awards including Best Actor (Harrison Ford) and Best Picture, but would win for Best Film Editing and Best Original Screenplay.  Maurice Jarra's musical score won the BAFTA award and though the film was nominated for 6 Golden Globes, it didn't win any.  The film starred Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Josef Sommer, and a young Lukas Haas (he was 9 years old).  At the Box Office, the film grossed over $68.7 million.
The sequel to "Romancing the Stone", Joan accepts an invitation to go to a middle eastern country as a guest of a sheik, but there she is abducted and finds herself involved with the "jewel".  Trying to figure out what the "jewel" is, Jack and his new partner Ralph are en route to rescue her.  "The Jewel of the Nile" had Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito reprising their roles and also co-starred Spiros Focas, and Avner Eisenberg.  At the Box Office, this often humorous adventure brought in more than $75.9 million.
When a group of trespassing seniors swim in a pool containing alien cocoons, they find themselves energized with youthful vigour.  Directed by Ron Howard, "Cocoon" won both Academy Awards it was nominated for (Best Visual Effects and Best Supporting Actor for Don Ameche) and was nominated a Golden Globe for Best Picture in the Comedy/Musical category.  The film had an all-star cast with such big names as Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Brian Dennehy, Jack Gilford, Steve Guttenberg, Maureen Stapleton, and Jessica Tandy (she was Hume Cronyn's wife in real life).  People thronged to the Box Office to see not just this sci-fi type of a fantasy, but to see their favorite actors and actresses in the same film.  It earned over $76.1 million.
In 20th century colonial Kenya, a Danish baroness/plantation owner has a passionate love affair with a free-spirited big-game hunter.  Directed by the legendary Sydney Pollack, "Out of Africa" won a grand 7 of its 11 Academy Award nominations which included Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Film.  It also won 3 out of its 7 BAFTA nominations and 3 out of 6 Golden Globe nominations which were for Best Supporting Actor (Klaus Maria Brandauer), Best Original Score by John Barry, and Best Motion Picture in the Drama category.  The film starred Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer, and Michael Kitchen.  At the Box Office, this period piece grossed over $87 million.
This film follows the life of Celie, a young black girl growing up in the early 1900's. The first time we see Celie, she is 14 and pregnant (by her father).  We follow her for the next 30 years as she experiences sadness, challenges, anger, and triumph.  Directed by Steven Spielberg, "The Color Purple" was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, but, sadly enough, didn't win any.  The film starred Whoopi Goldberg (who won a Golden Globe award for her performance), Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey (who was nominated for both an Oscar and Golden Globe for her performance), Margaret Avery, and Willard E. Pugh.  A personal favorite of mine, this film earned over $94 million at the Box Office.
When Apollo Creed is killed in a match against a powerful Soviet boxer, Rocky decides to challenge him himself.  Directed by Sylvester Stallone himself, "Rocky IV" won awards that one in the Hollywood business doesn't want to win: The Razzie Awards.  Out of 9 Razzie nominations, it won 5: Worst Musical Score, Worst Supporting Actress (Brigitte Nielsen who also won the award for Worst New Star), and Worst Actor (Sylvester Stallone who also won the award for Worst Director).  The film had Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young and Carl Weathers reprising their roles and co-starred Brigitte Nielsen, Tony Burton, and Dolph Lundgren.  Most people were disappointed when they helped this film bring in over $127.8 million at the Box Office.
John Rambo is released from prison by the government for a top-secret covert mission to the last place on Earth he'd want to return - the jungles of Vietnam.  Directed by George P. Cosmatos, "Rambo: First Blood Part II" was nominated an Academy Award for Best Sound Effects, but, just like "Rocky IV" also starring Sylvester Stallone, it couldn't escape the Razzie Awards as it won 4 out of 7 including Worst Actor (Sylvester Stallone -- his second of the year) and Worst Picture.  The film had Sylvester Stallone and Richard Crenna reprising their roles and also starred Charles Napier, Steven Berkoff, Julia Nickson, Martin Kove, and George Cheung.  At the Box Office, this film exploded with a gross of over $150.4 million.
A teenager is accidentally sent 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his friend, Dr. Emmett Brown, and must make sure his high-school-age parents unite in order to save his own existence.  Rest assured, "Back to the Future" was not nominated for any Razzie Awards.  Directed by Robert Zemeckis, this crowd-pleaser was nominated for four Academy Awards (winning the award for Best Effect Editing), five BAFTAs including Best Picture, and four Golden Globes including Best Actor (Michael J. Fox) and Best Film in the Comedy/Musical Category.  It starred Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, and Thomas F. Wilson.  At the Box Office, this thrill-ride of a crowd-pleaser shot way past its competition, earning over $210.6 million.
And now you know.
I'm rather gob-smacked in that "Rocky IV" and "Rambo: First Blood Part II" reached the second and third positions.  In my opinion, they certainly weren't better than "The Color Purple" or "Out of Africa".  "Rocky" and "Rambo" being sequels, perhaps people couldn't wait to see what happened next.  It is my opinion that many left the Box Office feeling as though they didn't get their money's worth.  Alas, that's the way it is at the Box Office.  Sometimes even the films that reach those high positions turn out to be disappointments.  Back then, even though there were critics on television, people rarely knew that fact unless they went to theaters to find out for themselves.  As with any film, people pay for what they want to see.  "Rocky" and "Rambo" were more desirable, but not more desirable than "Back to the Future".
Totally Awesome Movies of the 80s! is still in its early stages and not all huge Box Office hits have been blogged about yet.  However, you can find my blogs on the 1985 films "Back to the Future", "The Breakfast Club", and "Weird Science" at the column to the right of this page.
Until next time... Cheers!

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