Marquee History
Week 44 - 2015
By Max Braden
November 2, 2015

We are *not* going to refuse an opportunity to feature Morris Day and the Time on our site.

Welcome to Marquee History, the weekly column that takes you back to a time when you - or your parents - were younger. Prepare to become nostalgic (and shocked) at how much time has passed when you recall what was new in theaters 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years ago.

This week's highlights are the 15th anniversary of Charlie’s Angels and a couple of horror films for this Halloween weekend.

Here are the movies that premiered on theater marquees this week...

10 years ago - November 4, 2005

Chicken Little
Chicken Little was the first movie produced by Disney for 3D display (Pixar movies were distributed by Disney). Mark Dindal, who directed The Emperor’s New Groove, directed this movie about a chicken who discovers there are in fact pieces of the sky falling because they’ve been placed there by aliens. Zach Braff provides the main voice. He was in the midst of starring on the TV series Scrubs, and had released the fan favorite live action movie Garden State in 2004. Reviews of Chicken Little weren’t great, but audiences were still interested. Chicken Little took down Saw II for the #1 box office spot with $40 million at 3,654 sites. That made it the 11th best November opening to date. Chicken Little earned $135 million in the U.S. That fell short of the movie’s $150 million budget, but an additional $179 million in overseas sales helped tip the scales.

2004 and 2005 were the years when Jake Gyllenhaal really turned into a star. In 2004 he starred in the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow. In Jarhead he took on a true lead role as a Marine sniper during 1990’s Operation Desert Storm, based on the biographical account by Anthony Swofford. Peter Sarsgaard, Jamie Foxx, and Chris Cooper co-star, with Sam Mendes directing. Reviews were good. Jarhead opened at #2 with $27 million at 2,411 sites. Jarhead went on to earn $62 million in the U.S. In the meantime Gyllenhaal co-starred in Brokeback Mountain. A sequel to Jarhead was released directly to video in 2014 with a different cast and characters, led by Cole Hauser.

15 years ago - November 3, 2000

Charlie’s Angels
Charlie’s Angels is the epitome of a big-budget, noisy, blockbuster treatment of a popular tv show, an approach that actually pays off in this case. Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu star as the sexy-but-tough private investigators based on the the show in the late 1970s. This was the first movie for director McG who had been working with music videos. The movie’s tone includes more overt humor than the TV series plus bigger action with the help of wire-flying during kung fu scenes. Bill Murray appears as Bosley, and Sam Rockwell provides a fun, flamboyant style to the movie’s villain. Critics and audiences enjoyed the movie, leading to a $40 million opening at #1 at 3,037 sites, finally unseating Meet the Parents after four weeks at the top. This was the seventh highest opening of the year. Charlie’s Angels went on to earn $125 million in the US and even more overseas. Its success led to a sequel with the main cast in 2003.

The Legend of Bagger Vance
Robert Redford directs Matt Damon in this golf drama set in the 1930s based on the novel by Steven Pressfield. Though Will Smith was the bigger box office star, received top billing, and plays the character in the movie title, he plays a supporting role as the caddy to Damon’s troubled golfer, providing sage advice. Jack Lemmon provides a narrative voice-over in his last movie before his death in 2001. The movie style fits into other Redford works like A River Runs Through It and the Horse Whisperer, but Will Smith’s golf whisperer character was a bit much for critics. The movie’s $60 million budget was a bit much too, as The Legend of Bagger Vance opened at #3 with $11.5 million at 2,061 sites and only brought in $30.9 million in the US.

20 years ago - November 3, 1995

Fair Game
By the mid-1990s, Cindy Crawford had it all: she was the world’s highest paid supermodel, host of MTV’s House of Style, wife of Richard Gere, and star of some steamy Pepsi commercials. But full length movie roles are a different animal. In Fair Game she stars as an attorney on the run from the KGB along with a Miami detective played by William Baldwin. Baldwin had two high profile hits with Backdraft and Sliver in the early 1990s. Unfortunately, this big budget action flick was a bust. Critics shot down the movie and Crawford, who was eventually nominated for a Razzie Award for herself and with Baldwin as Worst Screen Couple. Fair Game opened at #4 behind Copycat (with Get Shorty continuing at #1) with $4.9 million at 1,949 sites and only managed $11.5 million in the US.

Home for the Holidays
Jodie Foster’s second movie as director stars Holly Hunter as a single mom who goes to her parents’ house for a Thanksgiving full of drama and family sniping. Charles Durning and Anne Bancroft play her parents, Robert Downey Jr. her brother, and Claire Danes as her daughter. Steve Guttenberg and Dylan McDermott play supporting parts. Critical reviews of the performances were fairly strong, and I remember enjoying the conspiratorial relationship between Hunter and Downey. Home for the Holidays opened at $4.0 million at 1,000 sites (the best average of the opening movies) and eventually earned $17.5 million.

Gold Diggers: Secret of Bear Mountain
Anna Chlumsky and Christina Ricci star in this young adult adventure about two girls who follow in the footsteps of a female miner who was lost in the search for gold. Chlumsky had starred in My Girl and My Girl 2 by this point, and Ricci had co-starred in The Addams Family and its sequel. The movie did not have quite the adventure of The Goonies and received mild critic reviews. Gold Diggers opened at #9 with $2.5 million at 1,297 sites and went on to earn $6.0 million.

25 years ago - November 2, 1990

Jacob’s Ladder
This psychological horror film stars Tim Robbins as a Vietnam vet who is experiencing hallucinations and traumatic experiences as he tries to find out a potential cause from other war veterans. More than just a typical scarefest, this movie impressed critics and has had a lasting effect on movie fans. Jacob’s Ladder opened at #1, displacing Sibling Rivalry in its second week, with $7.5 million on 1,052 screens. It went on to earn $26.1 million.

Graffiti Bridge
In 1984, Purple Rain became a big hit in theaters and on the music charts. Prince and Morris Day returned for this sequel, which Prince directed. He stars as The Kid, who is now fighting for control of club Glam Slam. Unlike the first movie, the sequel bombed, opening at #8 with $2.4 million at 688 sites. It eventually earned just $4.5 million compared to the $86 million gross of the first movie. Prince later received Razzie nominations for Worst Actor, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, and Worst Picture. To date this was the last role for Prince in a movie, though he did appear as himself in an episode of New Girl in 2014.

Waiting for the Light
Releasing in limited release at 149 sites this weekend, Waiting for the Light is a comedy that stars Shirley MacLaine as an eccentric aunt to Teri Garr and her two kids in the 1960s. Critics were unimpressed, and Waiting for the Light barely charted at the box office, earning less than a million dollars during its run.

30 years ago - November 1, 1985

Death Wish 3
Charles Bronson returns as Paul Kersey in the vigilante role he launched in 1974 (based on the 1972 novel by Brian Garfield). In this third installment, Kersey moves back to Brooklyn after his daughter was killed in Los Angeles and takes on a local gang. Critics were less and less impressed with the series as it went on, but audiences still made it #1 for the weekend. Death Wish 3 opened with $5.3 million at 1,460 sites, taking down Jagged Edge in its fifth week. Its $16.1 million gross matched that of Death Wish II and made it profitable. While Bronson was nearly a decade older than Clint Eastwood, who started the similarly themed Dirty Harry around the same time as Death Wish, Bronson returned for Death Wish 4 in 1987 and Death Wish V in 1994.

To Live and Die in L.A.
Another crime-action film this weekend, this one features William Petersen as a U.S. Secret Service agent out to take down a counterfeiter played by Willem Dafoe. The French Connection director William Friedkin directed the movie, which is based on the novel by a former Secret Service agent. Initial reviews were mixed but it has kept a far better score on than Death Wish 3 has over the years. Perhaps the more memorable aspect of the movie was its soundtrack, composed by Wang Chung; the title song became a Billboard Hot 100 hit. To Live and Die in L.A. opened at #2 with $3.5 million at 1,135 sites. It went on to earn $17.3 million, making it profitable.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
In 1984, Wes Craven created one of the most iconic killers in slasher movie history with Freddy Krueger, the knife-glove wielding burn victim who haunts teenagers in their sleep. That low-budget production was a hit, earning $25 million at just 380 theaters. For this sequel Wes Craven left the directing job to someone else, and features a new cast other than Robert Englund. Mark Patton plays Jesse, who is possessed by Freddy in the real world. Following a similar limited release as the first movie, Freddy’s Revenge opened at only 522 theaters and peaked at only 614 theaters in January. Freddy’s Revenge opened at #4 with $2.8 million and eventually earned $30 million in the U.S., well above its budget. Wes Craven returned for the third Nightmare movie, released in 1987, and the series continued with more sequels and a Friday the 13th crossover, as well as a remake of the original in 2010.

Come back next week for another installment of Marquee History!