Saturday, December 31, 2016

Good Riddance, 2016!

2016. What a shockingly miserable dumpster fire of a year.

Yes, yes, I know, people have been saying the same thing about every year since we invented calendars. But it seems like 2016 has been exceptionally lousy and wretched. I will not be sorry to see its ass end as it finally heads out the door.

Unfortunately I have a very bad feeling that 2016 was just a rehearsal, and 2017's going to be even worse.

Here's just a few of the terrible, horrible no-good, very bad things highlights of 2016.

We had unprecedented higher than average temperatures across the globe, which I'm sure couldn't possibly be the result of climate change. 

Apparently the answer to the age old question, "Can't we all just get along?" is "No. No we can't." 2016 saw more than its share of deadly terrorist attacks. In March, two suicide bombers attacked the Brussels airport, killing sixty two people, and an hour later, a third bomber detonated himself in a Brussels subway station, killing another thirty two and injuring three hundred. 

Then there was the Bastille Day bombing in Nice, France, which killed eighty four.

And of course there was the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, in which an ISIS terrorist gunned down forty nine people and wounded fifty three others, making it the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. 

And those are just the highlights. There were dozens of other public attacks and mass shootings throughout the world in 2016.

In the world of international politics, there was the Syrian Civil War and the resulting refugee crisis. And the United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union for reasons too complicated to get into here, which will no doubt throw the country into turmoil, confusion and economic disaster for years to come.

On the home front, there was a huge increase in hate crimes towards Muslims and the LGBTQ community in 2016. Jesus, there's never been all that much tolerance toward these two groups to begin with. How much higher can the hatred go?

There was also a huge spike in gun and ammo sales in 2016. Considering there've been 15,000 deaths due to firearms this year, this is exactly what our country needs
 more goddamned guns with which to kill one another.

And hey, don't forget Chicago, which is gunning (heh) to become the most dangerous city in the country. There were an astonishing 762 murders in the Windy City in 2016. Of that number, a whopping FIFTY THREE were shot (eleven fatally) over the goddamned Xmas holiday weekend! Merry Christmas Everyone!

Even the planet seems to be becoming more violent. Wildfires raged across the nation, including a devastating one in Gatlinburg, Tennessee in November, which destroyed 2,400 buildings and killed fourteen people. 

And don't forget the Zika virus, the latest in Earth's attempts to eliminate humanity. This is not a nice planet, and it's doing its level best to get rid of us.

Heck, you can't even relax in Disney World anymore. Earlier this year a two year old boy was killed by an alligator at the Walt Disney Resort Hotel. Park officials apologized for the incident and vowed to eliminate the animals from the park. Which of course begs the question "Why the holy f*ck are there alligators inside Disney World to begin with?"

Sigh... and there there was the Presidential Election, surely the rotten cherry on top of the turd parfait that was 2016. An absolute trainwreck of a public spectacle that made our country the laughing stock of the world. 

An election that proved you don't need to be the best and brightest to be President, and that any racist, misogynistic, illiterate, pussy-grabbing, petulant bully can become the leader of the free world. 

We're most definitely in for a wild ride. Glorious Leader Trumpy hasn't even taken office yet, and he's already pissed off China by opening a dialogue with Taiwan, he refuses to put his many lucrative business holdings into a blind trust while he's in office (which is against the law), he blows off daily intelligence briefings "because he's so smart he doesn't need them" and he's now making noises about starting up the nuclear arms race again. 

I honestly don't expect any of us to be here four years from now. I really don't. Or if some of us are here, we'll be busy using rocks and makeshift bows and arrows to defend the last remaining clean water hole from the Stone Tribe.

And don't get me started on 2016's 
celebrity deaths. Oh sure, it's a given that every year's going to see its share of famous fatalities. But 2016 seemed especially cruel in this area. It wasn't just the larger-than-normal number of celebrity deaths, but the caliber of them. Big names and influential talents beloved by millions, snuffed out by this awful, awful year.

Here are just a few (!) of the many, many celebrity deaths in 2016:

Pat Harrington Jr. (from One Day At A Time• Angus Scrimm (the Tall Man from the Phantasm movies) • David Bowie • Alan Rickman • Dan Haggerty • Glen Frey (Eagles founder) • Abe Vigoda • Bob Elliot (of "Bob and Ray)  • Maurice White (founder of Earth, Wind & Fire) • Antonin Scalia • George Gaynes (Punky Brewster's dad) • Vanity (singer & Prince protege) • Harper Lee (writer of To Kill A Mockingbird) • Sonny James (country singer) • George Kennedy • Nancy Reagan • George Martin (Beatles producer) • Keith Emerson (of Emerson, Lake & Palmer) • Frank Sinatra Jr. • Larry Drake (L.A. Law actor) • Joe Garagiola • Ken Howard (White Shadow actor) • Earl Hamner Jr. (creator of The Waltons) • Garry Shandling • Patty Duke • Merle Haggard • Doris Roberts (from Everybody Loves Raymond) • Prince • Billy Paul (singer of Me & Mrs. Jones) • William Schallert (ubiquitous 1960s TV actor) • Morley Safer • Alan Young (voice of Mr. Ed and Scrooge McDuck) • Burt Kwouk (Cato of The Pink Panther films) • Muhammad Ali • Gordie Howe • Ann Guilbert (of The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Nanny) • Anton Yelchin • Buddy Ryan (NFL coach) • Michael Cimino (disgraced film director) • Elie Wiesel (Holocaust survivor and writer) • Noel Neill • Garry Marshall (producer of Happy Days) • Jerry Doyle (of Babylon 5) • Pete Fountain (jazz musician) • Kenny Baker (aka R2-D2) • Fyvush Finkel (character actor) • Jack Riley (of The Bob Newhart Show) • Marvin Kaplan (of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) • Gene Wilder • Hugh O'Brien • Edward Albee (playwright) • Arnold Palmer • Shimon Peres (President of Israel) • Kevin Meaney (comedian) • Pete Burns (sang You Spin Me Round) • Tammy Grimes • Janet Reno • Leonard Cohen • Robert Vaughn • Leon Russell • Florence Henderson • Ron Glass • Fritz Weaver • Van Williams • Grant Tinker (producer of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Mare's husband) • Don Calfa (from The Return Of The Living Dead) • Greg Lake (of Emerson, Lake & Palmer) • John Glenn • Alan Thicke • Bernard Fox (Dr. Bombay of Bewitched) • Zsa Zsa Gabor • Richard Adams (author of Watership Down) • George Michael • George S. Irving (voice of the Heat Miser in The Year Without A Santa Claus) • Carrie Fisher • Debbie Reynolds • Tyrus Wong (character designer and animator at Disney) • William Christopher (Father Mulcahy from M*A*S*H)

Phew! And that's only the more well-known ones. I left out a ton that I didn't recognize.

Update!: 2016 just couldn't help itself. A couple hours after I posted this entry, it took parting shots at a couple more celebs. Tyrus Wong died on December 31st. His name's not a household word, but he was a concept artist at Walt Disney Studios, and his work shaped the look of many classic and iconic Disney characters. He was 106 though (!), so I guess he had a pretty good run.

Minutes later, William Christopher also died. He was best known as Father Mulcahy from M*A*S*H. Sigh... you just couldn't resist, could you, 2016?

So please join me as I say goodbye and good riddance to 2016. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out. And let's all hope that 2017 is an improvement. It would almost have to be, right? Right? Please say it has to be?

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Box Office Predictions Results!

Back in May of 2016, my nephew Kyle made a number of box office predictions for the year's upcoming films. I chimed in as well with some observations of my own on this vitally important topic.

Welp, 2016 is finally over (thank the Maker!), so let's take a look and see how we did with our predictions.

But first a quick primer on Hollywood finance and the box office. Due to marketing and other hidden costs, these days a film needs to gross at least twice its production budget just to break even. Anything it makes after that is considered profit.

For example, suppose 20th Century Fox produces a movie called Summer Blockbuster, which costs $100 million dollars to film. Summer Blockbuster goes on to gross a whopping $250 million at the box office. Sounds pretty good, huh? Eh, not so fast!

According to our formula, Summer Blockbuster needs to make $200 million just to recoup its production costs and break even. Subtract that from its $250 million box office gross, and it turns out the film only made a profit of $50 million. In essence, Fox just spent $100 million to make $50 million. Looks like they should have kept their money in their vault.

Using this handy formula, we'll see that despite appearances, there were actually very few financial successes this year.

OK, on with our 2016 Box Office Prediction Results!

Note: Kyle's original comments are in blue, mine are in red. My comments on how the movies actually performed are in black. All box office grosses listed are worldwide totals.

The Angry Birds Movie

Kyle: This is about 4 years too late. Nobody plays Angry Birds anymore, and from the trailer the jokes look too adult-themed/vulgar to create any positive word-of-mouth after the opening weekend. The upside is this only cost $75 million to make, so a modest box office could still net the studio a profit.

Bob: I agree this movie's probably coming too late, but these CGI animated films take years to produce. It's entirely possible they started it when the Angry Birds were still hot.

The trailer didn't do anything for me either, so I'm betting this will be a moderate hit at best.

Budget: $73 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $347 million

Kyle was a bit non-commital here, and I predicted a moderate hit. Looks like we were both wrong. Despite the fact I heard little or no buzz about it, it somehow made almost $350 million worldwide! Based on its relatively low budget, that's a huge box office success.

Winner: Neither of us.

Alice Through The Looking Glass

Kyle: The last Disney Alice in Wonderland movie made a lot of money, but this one worries me a little. It’s borderline too late (6 years after the last installment) and Tim Burton is not returning, instead Disney handed the reigns to the director of the last Muppets movie. However, even a 50% dropoff from the last movie would still net over $500 million.

Bob: Don't forget that the first movie's BILLION dollar gross was worldwide. Here in the States it "only" made $334 million. So it's gonna have an uphill climb to match the success of the original.

The first movie was a very loose adaptation of the two Alice books. That means this one has no blueprint to follow, and is a completely new story. Will audiences be interested in an Alice movie that's 100% new? Is today's average moviegoer even aware there are Alice books?

Budget: $170 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $299 million

Kyle said he was "worried" about this film, which I guess is sort of a negative prediction. I said the movie would face an uphill climb to match the success of the original. So I guess we were both sort of right.

Somehow this film managed to rake in $300 million, which sounds like quite a bit. If we apply our box office formula to it though, we see it needed to make $340 just to break even. Definitely a bomb.

Winner: Both of us, kind of.

X-Men: Apocalypse

Kyle: I’m a little worried about this one. The trailers have been pretty bland and the story is looking pretty generic.

Bob: Looks like a perfectly good waste of Oscar Isaac to me.

We live in interesting times. If you showed this trailer to me in 1980, I would have freaked the hell out, as it would have been the most amazing thing I'd ever seen. Nowadays there've been so many movies just like this that all it generates is a yawn.

Budget: $178 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $544 million

Again, Kyle was worried about this one, which I guess is a thumbs down. I just talked about how boring the trailer was, which isn't really a prediction.

Let's apply our Box Office Formula here. X-Men Apocalypse cost $178 million to make. 2 x $178 million = $356 million. It grossed $544 million, so if we subtract $356 from that, we get $188 million in profit. Not much of a return on their $178 million investment.

Winner: Neither of us.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows

Kyle: Didn’t see the last one. Never been a fan of the ninja turtles. But the turtles are popular again thanks to the new animated series, so it’ll do ok at the box office.

Bob: I saw the first movie on Amazon Prime a few months ago. It wasn't great, but it wasn't the worst thing I've ever seen either. I think it'll do OK as well, providing nothing else siphons money from it.

Budget: $135 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $246 million

Kyle and I both predicted it'd do OK. Unfortunately it barely managed to gross a little more than twice its budget, for a profit of around $24 million. I'd call that a financial flop.

I wouldn't hold my breath for a TMNT III, unless they make it with a drastically reduced budget. Maybe they could just focus on ONE of the turtles to save money, and send the other three out of town for the duration of the movie?

Winner: Neither of us.


Kyle: This will bomb. It’ll be another Jack The Giant-Slayer.

Bob: Hey, I kind of liked Jack The Giant-Slayer.

Maybe I just don't travel in the right circles, but I'm not hearing ANY buzz about this film. I think you're right— it's going to be an expensive bomb.

Budget: $160 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $433 million

Kyle and I both predicted this would be an expensive bomb. It somehow squeaked by, thanks to the Chinese box office. If you apply the box office formula here, the film made a $113 profit. Not quite a bomb, but not an astonishing success, either.

Winner: Neither of us.

Finding Dory

Kyle: It almost seems like it’s too late to make this sequel, and Pixar has been really hit or miss since Disney moved most of their top people to their in-house animation studio. I think this will make over $800 million but not be as critically successful as Finding Nemo.

Bob: Eh, it's Pixar. At this point they could release a movie of Woody and Buzz reading the phone book for ninety minutes, and it'd gross $800 million.

It's been thirteen years (!) since the first one, but I don't think that'll hurt it. The kids who watch the original six times a day on DVD don't know when it came out, so I think they'll hungrily lap up this new one.

Budget: $200 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $1,027,000,000 BILLION

We both correctly predicted a huge hit, but didn't realize it'd pass the billion dollar mark.

Winner: Both of us.

Independence Day: Resurgence

Kyle: This will suck, but who cares? It’s Independence Day. The original is terrible, yet also one of the most popular movies ever made. I think this will suffer from Will Smith not being in it a little, but I think this will be a fun movie. Plus, the buzz around this movie finally got fox to release the extended cut of the original on blu-ray, so I owe them a ticket purchase for that.

Bob: ID4 a terrible movie? You're dead to me. It's one of the greatest popcorn flicks ever made!

It's been a whopping TWENTY years since the first one! "Late Sequels" like this rarely work, because the culture and even filming styles change so much in the intervening years. If you make it exactly like the original, it feels too old fashioned. If you make it in the current style, then it doesn't feel enough like the original. There's no way to win.

I agree that the absence of Will Smith will hurt this one (but hey, Brent Spiner's apparently back from the dead!). I think it'll underperform.

Budget: $165 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $390 million

Kyle seemed somewhat positive about this one, while I said it would underperform. It barely made back its budget, managing to generate a limp $60 million profit. In essence Fox spent $165K to make $60K. I'd call that underperforming.

Winner: Me.


Kyle: This will be the next Adventures of Tin-Tin or Hugo, a good movie that will be neglected by critics and bomb at the box office. This will fly under the radar completely because of the crowded July release slate.

Bob: As someone who played a lot of Doom back in the day, I really, really wish they'd do something about that title…

Budget: $140 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $243 million

Kyle said it would bomb, while I just talked about the Doom video game for some reason.

Kyle was right— it's a massive bomb. Amazingly it only managed to gross a paltry $55 million here in the States! We live in interesting times— I never thought I'd see the day when a Spielberg movie would crash & burn at the box office. I think a big part of the problem is that the book is very well known in Europe and Australia, but virtually unheard of here in America. Well, that and the creepy looking CGI giant.

Winner: Kyle.

The Legend of Tarzan

Kyle: Did anyone ask for this? No? Didn’t think so.

Bob: Yep, bomb. Plus I'm having trouble accepting the idea of a Tarzan who wears pants.

I saw the trailer online, but have yet to see it in a theater or on TV. If they want the public to even be aware that this thing exists, they'd better step up their marketing, and fast.

Budget: $180 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $358 million

Kyle just asked if anyone wanted this film, but I guess that counts as a negative. I predicted it would bomb, apparently based on Tarzan's wardrobe.

Using our handy formula, it looks like the film made a whopping $2 million profit. That sounds like a bomb to me!

Winner: Both of us.

The Purge: Election Year

Kyle: The first movie was pretty boring, the sequel was much more exciting but very heavy-handed, I’d like to see this one find a better balance.

Bob: I feel the same way about this series— the first one was awful, and the second much better. In fact the second one may have been the best Punisher movie we've had so far.

This may be the movie worst poster I've ever seen. Where's Drew Struzan when we need him? They do understand what purge can also mean, right? It's basically saying, "I Vomited."

I fully expect to see some sort of over-the-top Donald Drumph analogue in this film.

Budget: $10 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $118 million

Neither of us really made any predictions here, as instead we aired our opinions on the franchise.

Due to the film's extremely low budget, anything it made would almost guarantee a profit. Using our box office gross formula, it looks like the film make a profit of $98 million, against their $10 million investment. It's a hit!

By the way, when I saw this film I had no idea it would turn out to be a documentary!

Winner: Neither of us.

The Secret Life Of Pets

Kyle: This looks like a Toy Story rip-off from the trailers. But it’s going to do OK at the box office and bury The BFG in its second weekend.

Bob: As a graphic designer I have to say that's one of the worst logos I've ever seen.

Budget: $75 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $875 million

Kyle said it would do OK, while I critiqued the logo for some reason.

$75 million for a CGI cartoon seems awfully cheap, but I guess I'll take their word for it. The film made a profit of $725 million, which makes it a HUGE hit no matter how you look at it.

Winner: Neither of us.


Kyle: Let’s just pretend this one doesn’t exist, okay? At least we’re getting ecto cooler back because of this.

Bob: By the gods, I'll be glad when this thing finally crashes and burns, er, I mean comes and goes, so I can stop hearing about it forever.

So they didn't even bother to come up with an original poster? It looks like all they did is take the old one, use the "bevel" function in Photoshop to give it a bit of dimension and call it a day. Disappointing.

I think it might do OK in its first week, as curious moviegoers come out to see it. Once word of mouth gets out, it'll have a 110% drop off in its second week. Yeah, I know what I said. 110%.

Budget: $144 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $229 million

Kyle denied the very existence of this film, which I guess is a negative, while said it would crash and burn (and ranted about the poster).

The movie couldn't manage to make back twice its budget, so it's definitely a bomb. Hopefully this will kill any plans for further abominations sequels.

Winner: Both of us.

Ice Age: Collision Course

Kyle: They’re still making these?

Bob: Are they in space now? I thought these things were about prehistoric animals?

Think about the poor people who spent their childhoods dreaming about becoming an animator, went to film school, worked hard, graduated, got a job at a major studio, and then were assigned to work on this.

Budget: $105 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $407 million

Both Kyle and I had nothing good to say about the film, but we didn't actually make any predictions as to how it would do.

Amazingly it somehow managed to generate a $197 million profit.

Winner: Neither of us.

Star Trek Beyond

Kyle: Need to see more to be convinced. Hopefully this buries Ghostbusters at the box office and kills its second weekend take.

Bob: I enjoyed the first one, but wanted to burn down the theater after seeing the second. I have zero hope or expectations for this one and hope it bombs so hard it leaves a crater.

The second movie was a weak retread of The Wrath Of Khan. This one looks like the Enterprise is destroyed, just like in The Search For Spock. So I can't wait until the next one, where they'll go back in time and save the whales again.

Budget: $185 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $341 million

Kyle hoped it would bury Ghostbusters. I was very mean to this one, saying I hoped it bombed spectacularly.

The film actually surprised me, as it turned out to be pretty darned good. Unfortunately it was a box office disaster, actually losing money for Paramount.

Winner: Me, sadly.

Jason Bourne

Kyle: Sleeper hit of the summer. $700 million plus.

Bob: I don't know about that... I've seen all these movies, but couldn't tell you what happened in which one if someone held a gun to my head. I think it'll do OK at best.

Budget: $120 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $413 million

Kyle boldly predicted this film would be a huge box office smash, while I said it would do OK at best.

Based on our box office formula, it made a modest $173 million profit.

Winner: Me, I guess.

Suicide Squad

Kyle: Keep trying, DC. Keep trying.

Bob: I have little or no interest in this one, but I think if any movie can break the DC movie curse, it'll be this one.

Budget: $175 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $745 million

Kyle made vaguely negative comments about the film, while I predicted it would break the "DC movie curse," which I think was a comment about the quality of the film, not a prediction about its financial success.

Turns out it's a huge box office success, against all logic and reason, making almost a $400 million profit.

Winner: Neither of us.

The Magnificent Seven

Kyle: Is Hollywood trying to make “modern” westerns still a thing?

Budget: $90 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $160 million

Kyle made sort of a negative statement, while I apparently refused to comment at all.

It wasn't a terrible film, but unfortunately it hasn't been able to scare up anywhere near twice its budget, so it's a bomb. Don't look for The Magnificent Eight anytime soon.

Winner: Kyle, I suppose.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Kyle: “We’re almost out of Divergent and Maze Runner movies! Quick, find a new franchise!”

Bob: Oh god no, this is a series of books? Did not know that. I don't see any sequels in its future. I feel like the public is over Tim Burton and his fatal doses of whimsy.

Budget: $110 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $281 million

Kyle was vaguely negative, while I was a little more firm in my prediction of doom.

Somehow the film made a $61 million profit, which is frankly shocking to me.

Winner: Neither of us.

The Girl On The Train

Kyle: I know next to nothing about this one, it’s based on book from the author of Gone Girl, which was a big hit, and Emily Blunt is staring.

Budget: $45 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $172 million

Kyle sort of made a positive comment, while I kept my mouth shut.

The film ended up making an $82 million profit, which I guess is sort of a hit.

Winner: Kyle, sort of.

Underworld: Blood Wars

Kyle: Are they still doing these?

Bob: Once again, I saw every one of these in the theater, but couldn't tell you anything about any of them if my life depended on it. Something about a busty vampire gal in fetish gear who hates werewolves?

Heh. This one's been pushed back to January 2017. The first of the year is the traditional film dumping ground, so that's gotta be a bad sign.

Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween

Kyle: This is why the terrorists hate us.

Bob: Heh. Well, I guess we're just not the target audience here. I've got to hand it to Tyler Perry's Tyler Perry, he hasn't let his lack of talent get in the way of his massive success.

Budget: $20 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $74 million

Kyle had some more vaguely negative comments, while I just insulted Tyler Perry's talent.

Due to the film's extremely low budget, it actually made a modest profit. Exactly like Perry's movie's always do, which is why he's allowed to keep pumping them out year after year.

Winner: Neither of us.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Kyle: Never saw the original. I guess it did well enough to warrant a sequel.

Bob: Eh, the first one was OK. There's not a lot of box office competition in October, so I think this one'll do alright.

Budget: $60 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $161 million

Kyle sort of said it might do OK, and I said it would do "alright."

It made a modest $21 million profit, which I guess could be considered OK and alright.

Winner: Both of us, I guess.


Kyle: They’re out of Saw movies, I guess someone wants to bring this franchise back from the dead (pun intended).

Bob: Never got the appeal of these movies. Thanks to their anemic PG-13 rating, they're about as terrifying as a basket of kittens.

This is another one that got pushed back to February 2017, the traditional film dumping ground. Not a good sign.

Doctor Strange

Kyle: If Marvel can pull of Guardians Of The Galaxy and Ant-Man, they can pull this off. Just hope the whitewashing and the Tibet/Nepal controversy don’t hurt it too much.

Bob: It's Marvel Studios, and at this point they can do no wrong. It'll be another big hit for them

I'm already sick of hearing about the casting. Of course they whitewashed the part of the Ancient One! China has become a HUGE factor in worldwide box office. Films routinely make more there than they do here. There's no way in hell Marvel's going to risk that by bringing up Tibet and pissing off the Sleeping Dragon.

Budget: $165 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $648 million

We both said it would be a hit.

So far the film's made a $300 million profit, which is amazing for a character that only comic book fans know.

Winner: We're all winners!


Kyle: Based on the toys. Why God, why!?

Budget: $125 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $317 million

Kyle seemed pretty negative about the film, while I didn't say anything at all.

It turned out to be a modest hit, generating a $79 million profit. Pretty much ANY CGI animated feature is guaranteed to at least make back it's money these days.

Winner: Neither of us.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Kyle: After Batman v Superman, if Suicide Squad underperforms, WB NEEDS this to be a big hit to avoid their stock tanking in the 4th quarter.

Bob: Apparently J.K. Rowling doesn't just want money, she wants ALL the money.

The fact that this is an entirely new cast could work against it. Will audiences be interested in a Harry Potter movie without Harry Potter in it?

Budget: $180 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $747 million

Kyle didn't really make a prediction here, just saying Warner Bros. needed it to be a hit. I wondered if audiences would embrace a Harry Potter-less Harry Potter movie.

I guess I needn't have worried. The film's generated almost $400 million in profits (and counting).

Winner: Neither of us.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Kyle: Is it December yet!?

Bob: Gosh, I hope there's a Death Star in this one!

Same deal here as with Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. Will audiences embrace a Star Wars movie without any familiar characters (Mon Mothma doesn't count)?

Budget: $200 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $653 million (and counting)

Kyle's comment indicated he couldn't wait for the film, which I guess is a positive. Once again, I wondered if the public would have any interest in a Star Wars film without any recognizable characters in it. I should have known better. It's Star Wars. It's guaranteed to make a billion dollars.

So far the film's made $253 million in profit. It's still in theaters as of this writing, so expect that figure to rise. It's a hit.

Winner: Kyle, I guess.

Assassin’s Creed

Kyle: Just saw the trailer today. It looks like a pile of garbage. Video game movies just don’t work.

Bob: I've never played any of the games, so I know absolutely nothing about this franchise. I was gobsmacked to find out that it's set in the future, and the Spanish Inquisition stuff is all part of a Holodeck program. What the hell?

Budget: $123 million
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $42 million (so far)

Kyle had nothing good to say, and I had some vague comments about the video game.

Even though the film's only been out a little more than a week as of this writing, it looks like it's on track to be a huge bomb.

Winner: Kyle.

That's it for our predictions. So how'd we do? Eh, not so well. Out of the 24 predictions (there were 26, but two of the movies got pushed back to next year), Kyle only got 10 right (or 41%), while I did even worse with 9 (or 37%). Oy! That's less than an F on the standard school grading scale! I guess the lesson here is don't listen to any of our predictions! Better luck to us next year!

This Week In Unfortunate Headlines: The Fingering

Looks like all the managers at Yahoo must be off this week for the holidays, which allowed this unfortunate headline to sneak through...

Thursday, December 29, 2016

1986: Another Great Year For Blockbusters

1986. One of the greatest blockbuster seasons ever at the cineplex. There were an amazing number of big budget, high grossing films released during that period, many of which have gone on to classic or cult film status. Influential films we're still watching and talking about today.

Some of the most important directors of our time released their best work during this incredible period. Whether it was a fortuitous alignment of stars in the cosmos or just a random confluence of studio schedules, the Summer of 1986 was a great time to be a movie lover!

It just doesn't seem possible that it's been a whopping THIRTY years since these films were released.

By 1986 the Golden Age Of Videotape was in full swing, so I saw the vast majority of these films at home on our trusty VCR rather than in the theater. Whether I'd have enjoyed them more on the big screen, I can't say.

Note that of all the films on this list, five are sequels and there's only one remake. You hear that Hollywood? Audiences like new ideas and stories.

It seems silly to issue a Spoiler Warning for a bunch of three decade old movies, but... consider yourself warned!


Released July 18, 1986
Budget: $17,000,000
Grossed: $131,000,000

Starring Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen and Paul Reiser (!).

The Plot:
Decades after the events of the first film, Ellen Ripley is found in suspended animation. She joins a platoon of Space Marines and returns to LV-426 to wipe out the aliens who've overrun the colony there.

• Sigourney Weaver was hesitant to reprise her role as Ripley, fearing a sequel would be subpar and poorly written. When she finally read writer/director James Cameron's script, Weaver was pleased with the way Ripley was handled, especially the mother/daughter bond with Newt, and finally agreed to do the film.

• Actor Bill Paxton improvised most of his lines, such as the iconic, "Game over, man. Game over!"

• Bishop the android says he's incapable of hurting a person or letting anyone come to harm. This is a paraphrase of Isaac Asimov's famous Three Laws Of Robotics (1: A robot may not injure a human nor allow a human to come to harm, 2: A robot must obey orders given by a human except where it would conflict with the First Law, 3: A robot must protect its own existence except where it would conflict with the First and Second Laws).

• Hicks was originally played by actor James Remar, who was fired a few days after shooting began and replaced by Michael Biehn. Remar says he was fired due to the debilitating drug habit he had in those days.

Remar can still be seen (from behind) in the finished film, when the marines first enter the alien nest.

Biehn says he received a call from his agent on a Friday, and was in London shooting the film the following Monday.

ALIENS was the only film that actress Carrie Henn, aka Newt, ever starred in. She grew up to become a teacher. She occasionally does sci-fi and comic conventions, where she no doubt gets sick of people coming up to her and saying, "They mowstly come out at night. Mowstly."

• Steven Lang auditioned for the role of Carter Burke, which eventually went to Paul Reiser. Lang went on to star as Colonel Miles Quaritch in director James Cameron's Avatar.

• After the film premiered, many businesses inquired about buying Power Loaders to use as forklifts. They were disappointed to find out that the Power Loader was just a special effect, and sadly not a real piece of equipment.

• Even though I'm a big fan of ALIENS, somehow I never managed to see it in the theater. I saw it on home video about a year after the film was released.

Despite the fact that I watched it on a tiny thirteen inch TV with a single tinny speaker, I was still on the edge of my seat all through the third act. That's how awesome the movie is!

Big Trouble In Little China
Released July 1, 1986
Budget: $20,000,000
Grossed: $11,000,000

Starring Kurt Russell, Kim Catrall, Victor Wong and James Hong.

The Plot:
An American truck driver is drawn into a dangerous and mysterious world inside Chinatown, which is ruled by an immortal wizard.

• Director John Carpenter and star Kurt Russell expected the film to be a huge success, but due to a lack of promotion on the part of 20th Century Fox, it was a box office bomb. ALIENS stole a lot of its grosses as well. Fortunately it became a cult hit through the power of home video.

• Carpenter said the movie was originally supposed to be a Western, but that concept was scrapped and it was set in the present day (present being 1986, of course).

• John Carpenter and Kurt Russell worked together on four other movies: Elvis, Escape From New York, The Thing, and Escape From L.A.

• Kurt Russell was Carpenter's first choice to play Jack Burton. 20th Century Fox wanted either Jack Nicholson (!) or Clint Eastwood (!!) for the part, proving that studio executives have always been morons.

Russell turned down the lead role in Highlander to appear in this film.

• In the film, the Brides of Lo Pan must all have green eyes. Actresses Kim Catrall and Suzee Pai both have brown eyes in real life, so they wore very obvious green contact lenses in the movie.

• The film was originally going to be a sequel to 1984's Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension, but was heavily rewritten to be a standalone story.

• If you watch the film closely, it becomes obvious that Jack Burton is a bumbling clod, and his pal Wang Chi is actually the hero. I freely admit this flew completely over my head when I first saw the film in the theater in 1986. Hey, what can I say, I was a stupid kid.

Crocodile Dundee

Released September 26, 1986
Budget: $8,000,000
Grossed: $174,000,000

Starring Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski.

The Plot:
A reporter meets a colorful bushman in the Australian Outback, and introduces him to New York society.

• The second highest grossing film of 1986.

• The American poster features quotation marks around "Crocodile," because the studio feared audiences would think the movie was a kids' film about an actual crocodile (!).

• Paul Hogan insisted that the character of Crocodile Dundee was his own creation. Later it was discovered the character was based on real-life Australian bushman Rod Ansell. Ansell became famous down under when his boat capsized on a solo hunting trip, forcing him to spend two months in the outback before reaching civilization.

Unfortunately Ansell never saw a cent from the movie based on his life. His life took a tragic turn when his wife left him, he developed a drug habit and was involved in a police shootout. Some believe his exclusion from the film's profits drove him to his erratic behavior. And that's one to grow on!

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Released June 11 1986
Budget: $5,800,000
Grossed: $70,000,000

Starring Matthew Broderick, Mia Sara, Alan Ruck and Jeffrey Jones.

The Plot:
A high school student skips school, and he and his friends experience an adventure-filled day in Chicago.

• Rob Lowe, John Cusack, Jim Carrey (!), Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr. and Michael J. Fox were all considered for the role of Ferris.

Anthony Michael Hall turned down the role because he didn't want to be typecast as a perennial teen.

Amazingly, John Candy auditioned for the role of Cameron Frye, but was turned down because the producers thought he was too old (at thirty six!) to play a teenager. Oddly enough, Alan Ruck, who ended up playing Cameron, was actually twenty nine (but somehow looked eighteen)!

• The first cut of the film clocked in at two hours and forty five minutes. That seems to be typical of John Hughes movies, as the first cut of Planes, Trains And Automobiles was reportedly around three hours long!

• Actor Charlie Sheen supposedly stayed up for forty eight hours straight to achieve his character's drugged-out look. Riiiiight. He "stayed up" to look like he was on drugs.

• Apparently there was a lot of romance on the set of Ferris Bueller. Cindy Picket and Lyman Ward, who played Ferris' parents, married in real life shortly after filming. Unfortunately they divorced in 1992.

Mathew Broderick and Jennifer Grey also became engaged after shooting the movie (despite the fact they play siblings!). Sadly, a year later Broderick and Grey were involved in a car crash in Ireland, which killed a mother and daughter.

• During the parade scene, Ferris passes a theater playing Godzilla 1985. Years later in 1998, Matthew Broderick starred in the American version of Godzilla.

• There've been many attempts at a sequel, but star Matthew Broderick says the film's perfect as is and doesn't need a follow-up.

• There's a fan theory rattling around the interwebs that suggests Ferris Bueller doesn't actually exist, and is a figment of Cameron's imagination, sort of an idealized, outgoing version of himself. Sort of like Fight Club. It's an interesting theory, I guess, but I know darned good and well that's not what writer/director John Hughes had in mind.

• Full disclosure: I never saw Ferris Bueller's Day Off until 2016 (!!!), so it hasn't resonated with me over the years the way it has with the rest of the population. Nothing against the film, mind you– I wasn't actively avoiding it, it's just one of those movies that I never got around to seeing until way, way after everyone else did.

Flight Of The Navigator

Released August 1, 1986
Budget: $9,000,000
Grossed: $18,000,000

Starring Joey Cramer, Paul Reubens, Cliff DeYoung, Veronica Cartwright, Sarah Jessica Parker and Howard Hesseman.

The Plot:
A young boy is abducted by an alien ship in 1978 and returned, un-aged, to Earth in 1986. When it's discovered his mind is full of alien info and he can control an advanced spaceship, the military wants to capture him for study.

• As you're no doubt aware, Paul Reubens, aka Pee-Wee Herman, was the voice of MAX the alien spaceship (although he's credited as "Paul Mall").

• This is the second ever Disney film to contain profanity. The word "shit" is used twice, and Mr. Freeman calls Dr. Faraday a bastard.

The Fly

Released August 15, 1986
Budget: $9,000,000
Grossed: $60,000,000

Starring Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum.

The Plot:
A scientist invents a transporter and tests it on himself with unfortunate and gruesome results.

• Michael Keaton and John Lithgow auditioned for the lead role of Seth Brundle.

• Mel Brooks (yep, that Mel Brooks) was one of the film's producers. He kept this fact a secret though, fearing the public would think it was a comedy if they saw his name attached to the film.

Brooks came up with the film's tag line: "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

• When the film premiered, Jeff Goldblum wrote a letter to actor Vincent Price (who starred in the 1958 version of The Fly), saying, "I hope you like it as much as I liked yours." No kidding, Vincent!


Released March 7, 1986
Budget: $19,000,000
Grossed: $12,000,000

Starring Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown and Sean Connery.

The Plot:
An immortal swordsman living in New York City is being hunted down by another of his kind. "There can be only ONE!"

• Highlander's another film that wasn't a big hit at the time, but has gone on to cult status.

• Kurt Russell was originally cast as lead character Connor MacLeod, but dropped out to star in Big Trouble In Little China.

Marc Singer, Michael Douglas (!), Richard Gere, Harrison Ford, Michael Nouri, Peter Weller, Ron Perlman, Liam Neeson (!!), Christopher Reeve, Kevin Costner, Sting (!!!), Mickey Rourke, Ed Harris and Mel Gibson were also considered for the role.

• Christopher Lambert barely spoke English when he landed the role of Connor MacLeod. His only other English-speaking film at that point was Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, Lord Of The Apes, in which he uttered just a few words.

• Due to scheduling problems, all of Sean Connery's scenes had to be filmed in one week.

• Full disclosure again: This is another film I didn't see until many, many years after the fact. Again, I wasn't avoiding it, it's just one I somehow never got around to watching. Naturally, thirty years of hype couldn't help but set me up for disappointment, as I thought the film was just OK.

Howard The Duck

Released August 1, 1986
Budget: $37,000,000
Grossed: $38,000,000

Starring Lea Thompson, Tim Robbins and Jeffrey Jones.

The Plot:
A sentient, talking duck from another dimension is accidentally brought to Earth, where he has to cope with our society.

• Believe it or not, Howard The Duck was the first major motion picture based on a Marvel comic! My, how times have changed.

It's widely considered to be one of the worst movies ever made. Eh, it's by no means great, but believe me, I've seen far, far worse (heck, I've seen worse films this year!).

• Jay Leno was considered for the role of Phil Blumburtt before it ultimately went to Tim Robbins. Man, the world dodged a bullet that day. 

Amazingly there was a time in the 1980s when Jay Leno was being groomed as a film actor (!).

• In 1986, George Lucas was heavily in debt after constructing his $50 million Skywalker Ranch film studio. Lucas produced Howard The Duck, hoping the film would be a huge box office hit and get him out of debt.

When that didn't happen, he began selling off Lucasfilm assets, including his newly formed CGI animation division. Steve Jobs bought Lucas' animation department, which later morphed into a little business called Pixar!

• The Howard suit cost a reported $2 million ($4.5 million today!). There were eight different actors who portrayed Howard in various scenes. Ed Gale was the one used most often, and the only one who received a film credit.

• Lea Thompson actually did all her own singing in the movie.

• The movie was such a flop that Frank Price, head of Universal Studios, quit his job shortly after it premiered. The next day the Variety headline read, "Duck Cooks Price's Goose."

The Karate Kid Part II
Released June 20, 1986
Budget: $13,000,000
Grossed: $115,000,000

Starring Ralph Macchi and Noriyuki Pat Morita.

The Plot:
Daniel LaRusso and his pal Mr. Miyagi travel to Okinawa, where they struggle to save a local village from evil land developers.

• The movie started filming just ten days after the release of The Karate Kid.

• Although much of the movie's set in Okinawa, it was actually filmed in Hawaii, due to the similar landscape and the ease of filming on U.S. soil.

The Karate Kid Part II earned more than the original film— $115 million vs. $90 million.

• After filming The Karate Kid, actress Elisabeth Shue (who played Daniel's girlfriend Ali) enrolled at Harvard. She was supposed to have a minor role in Part II, in which she and Daniel break up. However, the writers scrapped this plan, and Daniel makes a brief mention of her and then she's never seen or heard from again.


Released June 27, 1986
Budget: $25,000,000
Grossed: $13,000,000

Starring David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly.

The Plot:
Have you seen The Wizard Of Oz? It's pretty much that, but with more creepy sexual undertones.

• Mick Jagger, Prince (!), Sting and Michael Jackson (!!) were all considered for the role of Jareth, before the producers decided on David Bowie.

• One of the film's choreographers is Cheryl McFadden. You may know here better as Gates McFadden, who played Dr. Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

• All through the film, Jareth juggles a set of crystal balls. The juggling scenes were one hundred percent real, with no camera tricks or special effects used. Michael Moschen performed all the juggling by crouching behind David Bowie and sticking his arms out in front of him. As a result he couldn't see what he was doing and had to juggle blind.

• The sources of most of the characters Sarah meets inside the Labyrinth can be found in her room in the real world (very much like the way Dorothy incorporated things from her world into Oz). She has a stuffed animals that look like Sir Didymus and Ludo on her shelves, a doll that resembles Hoggle, and even a figure that looks a lot like Jareth on her dresser.

She also has a music box containing a figure wearing a dress identical to the one she wears in the ballroom scene. There's even a wooden maze on her dresser that looks suspiciously labyrinth-like.

There's also an M.C. Escher print on her wall, which is very much like the "crazy perspective" environment in which she confronts Jareth.

Little Shop Of Horrors

Released December 19, 1986
Budget: $25,000,000
Grossed: $34,000,000

Starring Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin, James Belushi, John Candy, Christopher Guest and Bill Murray.

The Plot:
A nerdy florist discovers a talking, man-eating plant that threatens to take over the world.

Little Shop Of Horrors was directed by Frank Oz, who's best known as the voice and puppeteer of Yoda in the original Star Wars films.

Although Oz is primarily a puppeteer and voice artists, he's had a decent career as a director. He helmed The Dark Crystal (with Jim Henson), The Muppets Take Manhattan, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, What About Bob?, The Indian In The Cupboard, In & Out, Bowfinger, The Stepford Wives (2004) and Death At A Funeral.

By the way, Oz's real name is Frank Oznowicz.

• Ellen Greene, who plays Audrey, is the only member of the off-Broadway cast to appear in the film.

The role of Audrey was originally offered to Cyndi Lauper and Madonna (!!!). Yikes.

• When I first saw the film, I was impressed with the articulation of the massive Audrey puppet's gigantic mouth, and wondered how they got it to move so fast.

Turns out they undercranked the camera, and then played the footage at the normal twenty four frames per second, which sped up Audrey's movements considerably. Of course this meant that the actors had to move and lip sync slower than normal as well.

• The film originally ended with Seymour and Audrey being eaten by Audrey II. Director Frank Oz reluctantly changed it after negative reaction from test audiences. This is why we can't have nice things.


Released December 19, 1986
Budget: $6,000,000
Grossed: $138,000,000

Starring Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, John C. McGinley, Keith David, Forest Whitaker, Tony Todd and Johnny Depp.

The Plot:
A young man drops out of college and joins the Army during the Vietnam War, where he experiences the horrors of combat.

• Oliver Stone was the first Vietnam veteran to direct a movie about the Vietnam War. Many events in the film were drawn from Stone's personal experiences in the war.

Platoon took a long time to make it to the big screen, as Stone wrote the first draft back in 1971.

• Stone sent a copy of the script to Jim Morrison of The Doors in 1971, hoping to get him to play Chris (the part ultimately went to Charlie Sheen). Morrison reportedly had a copy of the script with him when he was found dead in Paris a few weeks later.

• Stone deliberately cast his two main actors against type. Tom Berenger was famous for playing good guys, but was cast as the sadistic Sgt. Barnes in Platoon. Willem Dafoe had mostly played villains up to that point, but was cast as the heroic Sgt. Elias.

Apparently the tactic worked, as both actors received Oscar nominations for the film.

• Charlie Sheen narrates the movie, which echoes his father Martin Sheen, who narrated Apocalypse Now, an earlier Vietnamese War movie.

Pretty In Pink

Released February 28, 1986
Budget: $9,000,000
Grossed: $40,000,000

Starring Molly Ringwald, Harry Dean Stanton, Jon Cryer, Annie Potts, James Spader and Andrew McCarthy.

The Plot:
A working class girl and a rich guy fall in love and try to date, but their various social circles get in the way of their happiness.

• Supposedly the film came about when actress Molly Ringwald asked director John Hughes to write a film based on the song Pretty In Pink by The Psychedelic Furs (and yes, the song appears in the movie).

• Jon Cryer, who plays Ducky, claims that despite what it looks like onscreen, both Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy thought he was "irritating."

Have you ever seen Cryer on Two And A Half Men? Who could blame them?

Short Circuit

Released May 9, 1986
Budget: $9,000,000
Grossed: $40,000,000

Starring Steve Guttenberg, Ally Sheedy, Fisher Stevens, Austin Pendleton and G.W. Bailey.

The Plot:
A military robot is hit by lightning and becomes sentient, deciding it would rather learn and explore the world rather than kill.

• Sign of the times: Fisher Stevens plays Ben in the film, an Indian character with a broad, exaggerated Hindu accent. Just one thing— Stevens isn't Indian. There's no way in hell something like that would ever be allowed today.

Stand By Me

Released August 8, 1986
Budget: $8,000,000
Grossed: $52,000,000

Starring Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, Jerry O'Connell and Kiefer Sutherland.

The Plot:
In 1959, four young boys explore the local woods to try and find the body of a missing teen.

• Based on the short story The Body, part of the anthology book Different Seasons by Stephen King. The Shawshank Redemption (under the name Rita Hayworth And Shawshank Redemption) and Apt Pupil are also in the book, and were both turned into film as well.

That must be some book!

• Columbia Pictures was concerned that the story's original title The Body was misleading, thinking it sounded too much like a horror film. Director Rob Reiner came up with Stand By Me, from the Ben E. King song of the same name.

After the film premiered, there was renewed interest in the song, and the Stand By Me soundtrack made the Top Ten in 1986.

• King claims the "leech incident" in the story and film (you'll now it if you've seen the film) actually happened to him as a child.

• Actor Corey Feldman, who plays Teddy, claims the character was very close to his actual personality and personal life at the time. Yikes!

• Actor Jerry O'Connell was eleven during filming, and was amazed that he was allowed to swear in the movie.

• The scene in which the train bears down on Gordie and Vern on the bridge was filmed with old fashioned movie magic. The train was actually several hundred feet away, but the scene was shot head on with a telephoto lens, that compressed the image, making it look like the train was right behind them.

Hey, we didn't have fancy CGI in the 80s!

• When the boys pool their money, it adds up to $2.37. The number 237 appears in many Stephen King stories (such as Room 237 in The Shining).

• Art imitating life: In the film, the character of Chris, who's played by River Phoenix, is said to have died relatively young while trying to break up a fight. In reality, River Phoenix died young (from a drug overdose in 1993), while the other three main actors are still alive and working.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Released November 26, 1986
Budget: $21,000,000
Grossed: $133,000,000

Starring William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Robin Curtis and Catherine Hicks.

The Plot:
When an alien probe threatens Earth, the crew of the Enterprise goes back in time to retrieve two humpback whales in order to communicate with it.

• In the opening scene showing the shrieking alien probe approaching Earth, there were originally subtitles explaining what it was supposed to be saying. Things like, "Where are you?" and "Can you hear us?"

Thankfully director Leonard Nimoy came to his senses and dropped the subtitles from the final cut.

• Ever wonder why Lt. Saavik stays on Vulcan and doesn't accompany the crew on their little romp? Supposedly there's a deleted scene that explains she became pregnant while helping Young Spock through his pon far (it's a Star Trek thing) in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock.

I'm not sure I care for that explanation, but at least it's better than the big fat non-reason we got in the final film.

• This film contains the one and ONLY instance in any movie or TV episode in which Kirk actually says, "Scotty, beam me up.

• Many underwater shots of the humpback whales were filmed with four foot long animatronic models. Apparently they were pretty convincing, because many animal rights groups criticized the film for getting too close to whales in the wild and pestering them just for a film!

• The movie was originally going to feature Eddie Murphy (!!!) as a UFO buff who spots the crew's Klingon Bird Of Prey decloaking at the Super Bowl. Everyone else in the audience thinks it's a special effect, but Murphy's character is convinced it's real, and he eventually discovers Kirk and his crew.

This storyline was fortunately scrapped when Murphy chose to star in The Golden Child instead. Praise the Movie Gods!

What can I say? It was the 80s, and the cocaine flowed thick and freely.

• There's another subplot that never made it into the film. After the crew travels back to 1986 San Francisco, Sulu wanders into Chinatown. He runs into a young boy named Hikaru, who he realizes is his great-great-great (and so on) grandfather).

Supposedly the kid they hired for the part started crying and wouldn't stop, and the scene was ultimately dumped. Oh myyyyyyyyyyy!

• James Doohan, who played Scotty, was a war hero in real life and lost the middle finger on his right hand in battle. He was pretty good at hiding his missing digit on the TV show and the previous films, but you can see it here in the scene where he picks up the computer mouse and tries talking into it.

• During the probe's attack, a technician lists the various cities that are being affected, including Leningrad. Whoops! Leningrad changed its name to St. Petersberg in 1991, five years after this movie premiered (maybe they changed it back again in the 23rd Century?).

• After time traveling to 1986, Kirk and Spock ride a bus through San Francisco. A punk rocker angrily blares his boom box at them, until Spock casually reaches over and knocks him out with the Vulcan neck pinch.

The punker was played by Kirk Thatcher, an associate producer on the film. He actually made himself up in full punk attire and haircut, and even wrote the I Hate You song playing on his boombox.

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is the only one of the films in which no one dies.

Top Gun

Released May 16, 1986
Budget: $15,000,000
Grossed: $176,000,000

Starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards and Tom Skerritt.

The Plot:
Is there a plot? A pilot code-named Maverck attends the Top Gun Naval Flying School, is determined to prove himself and rise to the top, while wooing a beautiful civilian instructor.

• Matthew Modine, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Matthew Broderick, Sean Penn, Michael J. Fox (!), Scott Baio (!!), Rob Lowe, Kevin Bacon, Eric Stoltz and Robert Downey Jr. (!!!) were all considered for the part of Maverick.

• The Navy set up recruiting booths in theater lobbies across the country, hoping to recruit pumped-up young hotheads exiting the theaters. Believe it or not their plan worked, and recruitment rates that summer were the highest in years.

Top Gun star Tom Cruise had to wear lifts in his shoes when acting opposite Kelly McGillis.

• Val Kilmer didn't want anything to do with the film, but was contractually obligated to appear in it. The role of "Iceman" turned out to be the most iconic of his entire career.

• Kelly McGillis' character Charlie is based on an actual person. Christine Fox was a civilian flight instructor, who rose through the ranks of the Pentagon and became Acting Deputy Secretary Of Defense, the highest office ever held by a woman at the DOD.

• An early draft of the film had Maverick and his squad squaring off against North Korean planes. Ultimately the nationalities of the enemy were kept vague, so as not to offend our enemies, I guess.

Other notable movies that premiered in 1986:

• Solarbabies
• SpaceCamp
• The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
• Blue Velvet
• Manhunter
• The Color Of Money
• Hoosiers
• Three Amigos
• Heartbreak Ridge
• Troll
• Critters
• The Hitcher
• From Beyond
• F/X
• Henry, Portrait Of A Serial Killer
• Night Of The Creeps
• Chopping Mall
• Deadly Friend
• Iron Eagle
• Children Of A Lesser God
• Gung Ho
• King Kong Lives
• Invaders From Mars
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