Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top Ten Box Office Hits of 1989

The year was 1989.
In World News: US planes shot down two Libyan fighters over international waters in the Mediterranean, tens of thousands of Chinese students took over Beijing's Tiananmen Square in a rally for democracy, Mikhail S. Gorbachev was named president of the Soviet union, the Berlin Wall was opened to the west after standing for 28 years, the Czech Parliament ended the Communists' dominant rule, and the US troops invaded Panama, seeking the capture of General Manuel Noriega.
In US News: George Herbert Walker Bush was inaugurated the 41st President of the US, the ruptured tanker Exxon Valdez sent 11 million gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound, a US jury convicted Oliver North for his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, Army General Colin R. Powell became the first black Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a San Francisco Bay area earthquake measuring 7.1 in magnitude killed 67 people and injured over 3,000 more (over 100,000 buildings were either damaged or destroyed completely).
In Sports News: San Francisco defeated Cincinnati 20-16 in the Super Bowl, Oakland wiped out San Francisco 4 games to 0 in the World Series, and the Detroit Pistons annihilated the LA Lakers 4 games to 0 in the NBA Championships.
In Other News: Salman Rushdie's novel, "Satanic Verses" was published and created immediate controversy to the extent that not only did Islamic militants put a price on his head, but Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini sentenced him to death.  Also, America's beloved Lucille Ball died at the age of 87, and visionary Jaron Lanier coined the term "virtual reality" and produced the equipment to experience it.
At the move theaters were releases such as "Johnny Handsome", "Dead Calm", "Deepstar Six", "Who's Harry Crumb?", "Young Einstein", "Pink Cadillac", "Great Balls of Fire", "Kickboxer", "My Left Foot", "Leviathan", "The Fabulous Baker Boys", "Casualties of War", "An Innocent Man", "Say Anything", "Lock Up", "sex, lies and videotape", "Glory", "All Dogs Go to Heaven", "Do the Right Thing", "Road House", "Weekend at Bernie's", "Lean on Me", "The 'Burbs", "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure", "Major League", "Star Trek V: The Final Frontier", "The Abyss", "Pet Sematary", "Harlem Nights", "Tango and Cash", "Field of Dreams", "Uncle Buck", "Born on the Fourth of July", "Turner and Hooch", "Steel Magnolias", Walt Disney's "The Little Mermaid", and "When Harry Met Sally...".
So then... What films were among the Top Ten Box Office Hits of 1989?  Here's the countdown... you might be surprised...
English teacher John Keating inspires his students to a love of poetry and to "seize the day."  Directed by Peter Weir, "Dead Poets Society" was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Actor (Robin Williams), Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay (of which it won the Oscar for).  The film was also nominated for six BAFTAs of which it won two (Best Film and Best Film Score) and four Golden Globes (it won none).  This incredible drama starred Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, and Ethan Hawke.  At the Box Office, it earned over $95.8 million.
The Buckman's are a midwestern family dealing with their lives: estranged relatives, raising children, pressures of the job, and learning how to be a good parent and spouse.  Directed by Ron Howard, "Parenthood" was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Supporting Actress (Diane Wiest) and Best Original Song ("I Love to See You Smile" by Randy Newman).  It was also nominated for three Golden Globes including a nod for Steve Martin's performance.  A very poignant and "real" motion picture, it had an all-star cast including Steven Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Dian Wiest, Jason Robards, Rick Moranis, Tom Hulce, Martha Plimpton, Keanu Reeves, and Joaquin Phoenix.  At the Box Office it took in over $100 million.
An elderly Jewish widow living in Atlanta can no longer drive. Her son insists she allow him to hire a driver, which in the 1950s meant a black man. She resists any change in her life but, Hoke, the driver is hired by her son. She refuses to allow him to drive her anywhere at first, but Hoke slowly wins her over with his native good graces.  Directed by Bruce Beresford, "Driving Miss Daisy" was nominated for an incredible nine Academy Awards and won four of them for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress (Jessica Tandy... she became the oldest recipient of the Oscar at nearly 81 years old), Best Makeup, and Best Picture of the Year.  The film was also nominated for four BAFTAs of which it won one (Best Actress for Jessica Tandy) and won all three of its Golden Globe nominations for Best Actress (again, Jessica Tandy), Best Actor (Morgan Freeman who was also Oscar-nominated) and Best Motion Picture.  The film's stars were Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman, and Dan Aykroyd.  Spanning at least twenty years, this marvelous achievement and history maker grossed over $106.5 million at the Box Office.
The discovery of a massive river of ectoplasm and a resurgence of spectral activity allows the staff of Ghostbusters to revive the business.  Following its 1984 #2 Box Office mega-hit, "Ghostbusters II" had Billy Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver, Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts all reprising their roles (quite the achievement).  At the Box Office this comedy/sci-fi/action flick took in over $112.4 million.
After visiting 2015, Marty McFly must repeat his visit to 1955 to prevent disastrous changes to 1985... without interfering with his first trip.  Robert Zemeckis directed this sequel to the #1 Box Office hit of 1985 (of which he also directed as well as Part III in the series).  "Back to the Future II" received an Oscar nomination for its Visual Effects and won the BAFTA for its Special Effects (it was snubbed at the Golden Globes).  This fun adventure had Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, and Thomas F. Wilson all reprising their original roles and also co-starred Elisabeth Shue.  At the Box Office, it earned over $118.4 million.
The scientist father of a teenage girl and boy accidentally shrinks his and two other neighborhood teens to the size of insects. Now the teens must fight diminutive dangers as the father searches for them.  "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" was Joe Johnston's directorial debut.  All those involved in the Visual Effects in the film won a BAFTA for their achievements.  The film starred Rick Moranis, Matt Frewer, Marcia Strassman, Christine Sutherland, Thomas Wilson Brown, Jared Rushton, Amy O'Neill, and Robert Oliveri.  It didn't shrink at the Box Office.  It took in over $130.7 million.
After a single, career-minded woman is left on her own to give to birth to the child of a married man, she finds a new romantic chance in a cab driver.  Meanwhile the point-of-view of the newborn boy is narrated (babies have thoughts and opinions, too, you know).  Offering a different point of view, "Look Who's Talking" starred John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Olympia Dukakis, George Segal, Abi Vigoda, and the voice talent of Bruce Willis.  At the Box Office, it laughed up over $140 million.
Riggs and Murtaugh are on the trail of South African diplomats who are using their immunity to engage in criminal activities.  This sequel did better than its original 1987 hit (the first "Lethal Weapon" landed the #9 spot at the Box Office in 1987).  "Lethal Weapon II" had Mel Gibson and Danny Glover reprising their roles.  At the Box Office, it shot in over $147.2 million.
When Dr. Henry Jones, Sr. suddenly goes missing while pursuing the Holy Grail, eminent archaeologist Indiana Jones must follow in his father's footsteps and stop the Nazis.  The third in its series, "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" was nominated for three Oscars and won one for its Sound Effects Editing.  Sean Connery was nominated for both a BAFTA and Golden Globe award for his performance as Indiana's father.  The film also starred Harrison Ford, Denholm Elliott, and John Rhys-Davies (all reprising their roles) and co-starred Allison Doody, Julian Glover, and River Phoenix as Young Indiana Jones.  At the Box Office, it whipped up over $197.1 million.
The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.  Directed by Tim Burton, "Batman" won its only Academy Award nomination for Best Art/Set Decoration.  It was also nominated for six BAFTAs including a nod for Jack Nicholson's performance (though it won none) and was nominated for only one Golden Globe (again for Jack Nicholson, yet came out empty-handed).  Although it was a re-make (the original "Batman" film came out in 1966), this was the first in what would be many "Batman" movies.  It starred Jack Nicholson (of course), Michael Keaton, Kim Bassinger, and Robert Wuhl, and co-starred Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, and Jack Palance.  With all of its "wonderful toys," this smash hit biffed its way to the top, grossing a whopping $251.1 million at the Box Office.
And now you know.
Did you notice?... Four of the Top Ten were sequels.  1989 was good year for Rick Moranis, too, as he was in three of the Top Ten: "Parenthood", "Ghostbusters II", and "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids".  Was "Batman" the #1 Box Office Film of the entire 80s?  The answer would be: No.  It was the third highest, however.  "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial" (1982) took in $359.1 million and "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" (1983) grossed over $252.5 million.
As always, this blog, "Totally Awesome Movies of the 80s!" is growing with more and more behind-the-scenes information on favorite and popular films from that era to be shared.  If you'll look at the column to the right of this page, you might find a favorite 80s film of yours as well as my reports on the Top Ten Box Office Hits for the years 1980-1988.
Until next time... Cheers!


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