Thirty years ago it was a former cop out for revenge. Ten years later, a horror film within a horror film. And ten years after that, a mind lost within itself.
One-hundred-plus years of film making provides a long, rich, and deep history to look back on. Retro reviews and analysis of old films are practically necessary full-time specialties. Month after month, films release, vying to make as much money and grab as much attention as possible. Some rise, some fall, but regardless of financial success, the lasting effect of a film in popular culture is unpredictable.
So, where does that leave past box office champs? Let’s take a look back ten, twenty, and thirty years ago at the biggest movies released in February.
1990 • Hard To Kill • 47.4 Million
The early 90s belonged to the action movie star. The former cop or military vet, either betrayed or framed and out for revenge. Between 1988 and 1992, Steven Seagal (Under Siege) starred in five, hit action films. The second one, Hard to Kill, released on February 6th and wound up being the biggest money-maker released in the month.
After Hard To Kill, the silver medalist for the month was Madhouse, a comedy starring Kirstie Ally (Cheers) and John Laroquette (The Librarians). Madhouse is forgettable, but something of note is that it sports a zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes from a handful of votes. Stella, the third feature film based on the novel Stella Dallas and starring Bette Middler (Hocus Pocus), made 20 million against a reported budget of 19 million. Revenge starring Kevin Costner (Waterworld), one of many sexy thrillers of the time, came in fourth. It was just ahead of Italian film Cinema Paradiso which made back almost three times its budget.
2000 • Scream 3 • 89.1 Million
In 1996, Ghostface made its debut in the original Scream and quickly became part of the great pantheon of cinematic slashers. In 2000, the franchise released its third installment. Tormenting Neve Campbell (The Craft) was big business at this time as the film went on to moderate success. However, the franchise went to sleep for a bit before a fourth movie, and a TV show revitalized things. For a little while, anyway.
After Scream 3, the second-place winner is Snow Day, a comedy starring Mark Webber (Scott Pilgrim), Chris Elliot (Schitt’s Creek), and Chevy Chase (Community). The film scooped up 60 million at the box office and has since been forgotten. Matthew Perry (Friends) and Bruce Willis (Glass) teamed up in The Whole Nine Yards to take third place. The dark comedy film even spawned a sequel. The Tigger Movie took fourth place, beating out The Beach starring Leonardo Dicaprio and directed by future Oscar-winner Danny Boyle.
2010 • Shutter Island • 128 Million
Ten years after The Beach, Dicaprio starred in Shutter Island from director Martin Scorsese, which took the box office title for the month. February’s slow shift into releasing box office hits continued as Shutter Island and the second-place finisher, Valentine’s Day, finished with more than 100 million at the domestic box office. Valentine’s Day, directed by legend Garry Marshall features a star-studded ensemble cast with Jessica Alba, Jaimie Foxx, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah and more! The film also includes Taylor Swift’s film debut.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief , the first film in the franchise, took third place with nearly 90 million. Right on its heels was Dear John, a romantic drama starring Amanda Seyfried (Big Love) and Channing Tatum (Magic Mike). The Wolfman with Benecio DelToro (The Last Jedi) completes the top five money-makers for the month.
February film releases have continued to evolve into higher-profile premieres. Two such notable films jump into the fray this month. First, it’s Birds of Prey, the spin-off from Suicide Squad focused on Harley Quinn and her gang of arse-kicking women. It’ll take on Sonic the Hedgehog, which was shamed in 2019 into re-doing its terrifying FX. Teeth? WTF were you thinking? Also in the mix is the horror film The Lodge.
My prediction …
There’s a lot of talk that Birds of Prey is not going to do well because of the bad taste left by Suicide Squad. However, SS made a butt-ton of money, and I think Birds of Prey will easily win the month. As much as Sonic will compete, Birds of Prey seems to have a better buzz overall and more money pumped into its marketing. The Lodge premiered at Sundance last month and received positive reviews so, maybe, just maybe, it’ll be a sleeper hit that takes the box office belt for February 2020.
Where to next? There’s so much more to read on PopAxiom.