Behold, the summer movie blockbuster season is upon us. This year it may look a little different because the world has not been quite itself for the past year. But make no mistake, we are in the thick of it, traditionally the biggest season of the year for Hollywood box office. A long time ago in what seems like a galaxy far far away Hollywood took the summer off. That is no longer the case, in fact it is quite the opposite. In Part 1 we looked at the movie that got the ball rolling on the summer movie season, Jaws. (here). In Part 2 we went back to the 80s and checked out the summer box office in 1989 (here). In this edition we trade jean jackets for flannel shirts and head into the 90s and the year 1994.
Since it’s the summer and no one has time to read about every movie that came out that year we’ve broken the box office down to a few categories which will include the best movie of the summer, movies that won Oscars, flops and any popular kid’s movies. So, now that we’ve got the dial-up modem going and the CD player is rocking let’s dive into 1994…
Summer Action: True Lies, The Crow, Clear and Present Danger and Speed were among the top action movies at the box office. True Lies was full of over-the-top action scenes involving helicopters, car chases and plenty of explosions. With James Cameron directing and Arnold Schwarzenneger starring as a secret agent trying to balance between his work life and personal life the film was perfect for the summer movie scene. There weren’t message boards in 1994 (although that was the year the internet came to be) but if there were movie fans everywhere would be buzzing about The Crow and how great the movie soundtrack is. Clear and Present Danger was another solid Harrison Ford performance in a film based off a Tom Clancy novel. These were the type of action films Hollywood just doesn’t make anymore unfortunately. We’re not done with the action movies though
Surprise Summer Hit: Speed. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock are on a bus that has to stay above 50 miles per hour or else it’ll detonate a bomb and explode. The movie cranked up the action to a 10. IMDB calls it an iconic 90s movie and that’s probably the best way to describe it. Speed made stars out of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. Dennis Hopper was perfectly cast as the villain. If you’re looking for a hallmark action movie from the 90s Speed definitely delivers.
Summer Flop: Beverly Hill Cop III. Eddie Murphy’s return as Axel Foley in the franchise’s third film was a far cry from the first one. This one took place in an amusement park but lacked the edgy humor and comedic tone of the first one. This film wasn’t able to get much going despite a ton of cameos and a different setting. Years later Murphy would admit the movie just didn’t work.
Something For The Kids: Disney had its fastball working in the 90s and brought the heat in 1994 with the animated film The Lion King. Disney spent several months putting this film together and it did not disappoint. From the ‘Circe of Life’ opening scene to the tragic moment between Mufasa and Scar to the finale this G rated film is in a class by itself. Angels in the Outfield also performed well for Disney at the box office. Plus, The Flintstones earned a place among the 10 best films of the summer at the box office.
The Summer Belonged To……… The Lion King and Forrest Gump. The Disney film was the highest grossing film of the summer and is arguably one of the top animated Disney films of all time. Forrest Gump was released in theaters a few weeks later and gave us one of Tom Hanks’ best performances and was the second highest grossing film of the summer. Forrest Gump ended the summer as the second highest grossing film. If the Internet was invented a year earlier it might have broken in the summer of ‘94 over the reactions to these two smash hits.
Oscar Buzz: The Academy was all over the summer films of 1994. Forrest Gump won 6 Oscars including Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Director. The Lion King took home 2 Oscars for its music and Speed won 2 Oscars for sound. Susan Sarandon was also nominated for her role in The Client.
There’s a recap of the summer of 1994 at the box office. Our next installment will take us into the late 90s and the summer of 1998. Stay tuned for more summer memories!