23 May 2010

Box Office of Hollywood: At May's End

Memorial Day encroaches upon us, and that means the inauguration of the summer tentpole movie slate is itching to collect money from moviegoers. Yes, I'm aware that Iron Man 2, Robin Hood and Shrek: The Final Chapter have already opened. We'll discuss the gluttony of 3D releases overwhelming an inadequate number of screens another time.

When I think about Memorial Day movies, the first that always comes to mind is:


It was the first time I think I paid any attention to a movie release poster emphasizing that the film would open for that holiday. I was used to seeing "This Thanksgiving" or "This Christmas" on a poster, but not "Memorial Day." Were there others? I'm sure of it.

Remember, though, that until 1995, there was no theater in the county where I grew up--and it opened in the latter half of that year. (I know this, because I had to get my mom to take me to Louisville to see Batman Forever when it opened on 16 June 1995.) 1996 was the first time I had the option of partaking in the Memorial Day offerings. That Friday night was great. I went with my brother and a friend to see Spy Hard, the Leslie Neilsen spy spoof. Then, we left the theater, walked up town to get some barbecue sandwiches for dinner and returned to the theater to see Mission: Impossible. The sky was particularly unusual looking during our return trek, and perhaps inspired by having seen Twister the weekend before, our imaginations considered that it was, in fact, the Apocalypse. Alas, it was just an eerie cloud formation strangely illuminated by the fractured light of nightfall.

I remember walking out of Spy Hard excited because 1) the movie was enjoyable enough and 2) I was seeing two movies on the same night and was going to get a major blockbuster to inaugurate the summer when I returned. I will also always remember walking out of Mission: Impossible asking, "What the hell just happened?" The premise is simple enough, and today I'm embarrassed that I found it confusing, but I swear to you that in 1996 that movie was incomprehensible. Was it the barbecue, or being distracted by thoughts of Armageddon that got in my way? I can't say now, but I suspect the fault can be properly placed at the feet of editor Paul Hirsch.

Here's a look at the Top 4 Day Memorial Day Weekends (1982-Present):
  1. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007)
  2. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
  3. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
  4. The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
  5. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)
  6. Bruce Almighty (2003)
  7. Pearl Harbor (2001)
  8. Mission: Impossible II (2000)
  9. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)
  10. Madagascar (2005)
  11. The Longest Yard (2005)
  12. Mission: Impossible (1996)
I'm not sure why Box Office Mojo insisted on subtitling that list "1982-Present," since the oldest entry is Mission: Impossible from 1996, but there it is. I personally contributed to the top four box office takes, as well as both Mission: Impossibles. Fox got my money for The Day After Tomorrow, but it was long after the day after Memorial Day.

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