Box Office Flashback: November 12, 1993

Written by Box Office Flashback, Film

As the latest round of would-be blockbusters lines up at a theater near you, Popdose looks back at the box office totals of yesteryear. This week we revisit the top ten films of November 12, 1993!

10. Rudy
During the 15 years or so between Goonies and Lord of the Rings, Sean Astin had a little time on his hands, most of which was blown on junk like Encino Man and Toy Soldiers. But every once in awhile, a decent script floated Astin’s way — for example, 1989’s underrated Staying Together, small parts in Bulworth and Courage Under Fire, and Rudy, the cult classic based on the story of Notre Dame underdog hero Daniel Ruettiger. Rudy grossed a paltry $22 million during its theatrical run, but it’s a Brian’s Song-sized favorite among the ESPN crowd, and you can see its influence in the spate of Disneyfied true sports dramas (The Rookie, Invincible, Remember the Titans, The Blind Side) that audiences can’t seem to get enough of.

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9. The Remains of the Day
If you love movies about sad British people who live on huge estates and don’t talk about their feelings, you’re a Merchant Ivory kind of person, and the late ’80s and early ’90s were a great time for you at the box office. The Remains of the Day, starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson as British people who don’t talk about their feelings, was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Movie That Enables You to Feel Superior to Anyone Who Saw Robocop 3.

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8. Robocop 3
A brilliant case study in how not to maintain a franchise, Robocop 3 was a pallid PG-13 retread of the R-rated original and its inferior sequel, starring a different guy as the title character, and filmed for a studio so broke it went out of business before the movie could be released, leaving it to rot in a vault for a year before being crapped out for an indifferent public. All the most interesting things about Robocop 3 happened behind the scenes, from studio drama to thwarted Robocop 2 writer Frank Miller somehow being lured back for another go at the sequel, only to see his screenplay shredded again. One can only imagine the possible reasons why Nancy Allen agreed to return for this abomination. Perhaps her family was being held at gunpoint?

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7. Look Who’s Talking Now
The second needless Part 3 of the week, Look Who’s Talking Now swapped out one lowest common denominator premise (talking babies is cute!) for an even lower one (talking dogs is cutezer!). Bruce Willis and Roseanne Barr had too much dignity to return for another Talking sequel, so the filmmakers threw some money at Danny DeVito and Diane Keaton. John Travolta, still a couple of years away from Pulp Fiction, was presumably signing contracts without looking at them, while Kirstie Alley probably signed on for this while she was still drunk from the Cheers finale afterparty. No one watched it then, and you don’t need to see it now.

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6. The Beverly Hillbillies
It’s Jim Varney Week at Box Office Flashback! Not only was the rubber-faced thespian starring as Jed Clampett in Penelope Spheeris’ ill-advised follow-up to Wayne’s World, he also returned to theaters with Ernest Rides Again. What’s that, you say? You thought the fifth Ernest movie went straight to video? Well, almost — it debuted in sixteenth place this week, averaging roughly $900 on more than 1,100 screens, and making The Beverly Hillbillies‘ disappointing gross seem positively robust in comparison. All things being equal, I’ll take any Ernest movie over the sniggering, cornpone Hillbillies, which wastes a talented cast (and Erika Eleniak) on 93 minutes of non-stop non-comedy.

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5. Cool Runnings
An unapologetically silly, thoroughly charming comedy inspired by the Jamaican bobsled team that competed at the 1988 Winter Olympics, Cool Runnings briefly turned Doug E. Doug into a household name, proved John Candy could still pick a decent script after a string of flops, and earned more than $150 million against a $14 million budget. Not bad, mon.

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4. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
I’ve always been in the minority on this one, which bored me to tears in the theater and I’ve refused to watch since; between its original run at its subsequent re-release, it’s grossed around $75 million, and it’s regarded as a holiday classic by an increasingly large number of people. The stop-motion animation is cool, but director Henry Selick went on to do far more entertaining work (Coraline), and I still say this marks the spot where it became clear that a little of Burton’s shtick can go an awfully long way. On the other hand, it’s a lot better than Mars Attacks!

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3. My Life
Released during the peak of Michael Keaton’s post-Batman commercial power, My Life takes an interesting premise (terminally ill father-to-be decides to videotape messages to his unborn child from beyond the grave) and turns it into a gauzy, sniffle-powered dramedy that pulls out everything from rollercoaster metaphors to Dr. Seuss to squeeze out the tears. My Life doesn’t just tug at your heartstrings, it hangs from them with its full body weight and bounces up and down. Still, for a manipulative, overly sentimental piece of fluff, it has its moments, and it’s always nice to go back to the years before Keaton inflicted crap like Multiplicity and Jack Frost on us.

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2. Carlito’s Way
Al Pacino bravely plays against type here, portraying a gangster whose efforts to go straight after being released from prison are met with stiff resistance from his associates, as well as Sean Penn with a Tony Geary-style perm. Sadly, like the tragic Carlito, audiences and critics weren’t willing to accept Pacino’s new direction, and after a strong opening, Carlito’s Way ended up grossing less than $40 million domestically. The world isn’t fair.

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1. The Three Musketeers
And speaking of things that aren’t fair, holy shit, how about this mullet-riddled travesty, which puts a Young Guns spin on one of the most beloved literary classics of all time — and then smears a wretched power ballad over the closing credits? It’s impossible to identify the worst thing about The Three Musketeers. Is it Charlie Sheen’s beard? Is it the way Kiefer Sutherland looks like he bathed in mayonnaise before every scene? Is it Chris O’Donnell, period? I can’t say for sure, but I can say that Oliver Platt doesn’t belong here, and we shouldn’t have bought $53 million worth of tickets.

And this, right here? This never should have happened.

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Box-office rankings provided by Box Office Mojo.

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