2007-06-27 / Movie Review

Movies Were Popular Pastime In 1982

BY LINDA J. WILSON I

In 1982 the Los Angeles Raiders beat the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl and the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series over the Milwaukee Brewers in four of seven games. The

All photos are from movie posters or DVD covers and reproduced in their original form. Used as illustration for a news article they are covered under fair use. All photos are from movie posters or DVD covers and reproduced in their original form. Used as illustration for a news article they are covered under fair use. New York Islanders were the only

New York City-based sports team to win a national title- the Stanley Cup- for the third year in succession. New York City subway fare was 75 cents and many Queens residents looking for ways other than spectator sports to spend their discretionary income elected to take the subway or bus to their favorite movie theater, where, despite the fact that the cost of producing a movie would reach an average of $18 million by the end of the decade, they could expect to pay around $3 to $5 for a ticket.

Hollywood did not try to pass production costs along to audiences. Instead, seeking to continue the successes of the 1970s "blockbusters" that had made Steven Spielberg and George Lucas part of movie-goers' collective consciousness, moviemakers continued to search for the one large "event film" that everyone (including international audiences) had to see. More than a few such blockbusters returned entertainment value for their production and ticket costs- many featured strong characters and well-constructed plots that did not entirely depend on special effects. Some of those strong characters and their plot lines had made their debuts in earlier movies. 1982 featured a number of sequels to earlier successes, among them "Death Wish II" and "Rocky 3".

Breaking down films by their release month and ranking them by their total U.S. and, in some cases, worldwide gross, according to the Web site www.thenumbers. com/movies/index1982.php, shows that 1982 started off quietly. The top-grossing film for January was "Shoot the Moon" with Albert Finney, Diane Keaton, Karen Allen and Peter Weller in the principal roles. It pulled in $8,100,000 in its U.S. release. Coming in second for the month as ranked by box office receipts was "The Border" with Harvey Keitel, Jack Nicholson, Valerie Perrine and Warren Oates, total take $6,118,683. The lowest grossing movie released in January 1982 was the teenage slasher tale "Venom", starring Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, Sarah Miles, Sterling Hayden and Michael Gough.

Leading the pack for February releases was a prehistoric adventure, "La Guerre du Feu", better known in the U.S. as "Quest for Fire", starring Everett McGill. It grossed $20,959,585. The next highest receipt total, $16,100,000, was earned by "Death Wish II" with Charles Bronson reprising his lead role, Laurence Fishburne, Jill Ireland and Vincent Gardenia. The lowest grossing film for February was "One From the Heart". Despite Francis Ford Coppola directing and Harry Dean Stanton, Rebecca De Mornay, Teri Garr, Raul Julia and Frederic Forrest in the cast, it made only $1,000,000.

Despite its ranking as among the best films of the year and decade, "Victor/Victoria", set in 1930s Paris with Julie Andrews playing a woman dressing like a man to play a female impersonator, Robert Preston as her gay partner in deception and James Garner as a very confused American gangster, pulled in a relatively minor $22,524,614 in its U.S. release. It came in a distant second to the top-grossing film for March 1982, the comedy "Porky's" with Kim Cattrall- total gross $109,492,484 for its combined U.S. and worldwide release. A cast of mostly British big names, among them Maggie Smith, Roddy McDowall, Peter Ustinov, Diana Rigg and James Mason, didn't help "Evil Under the Sun", based on an Agatha Christie mystery novel of the same name, from coming in last for March 1982 with a gross of $4,659,287.

The 1982 version of "Cat People" with Nastassja Kinski, Malcolm McDowell, John Heard, Annette O'Toole, Ed Begley, Jr., John Larroquette and Ruby Dee, did better in worldwide release- its $21,000,000 worldwide in contrast to its U.S. gross of $7,000,000 made it the second-highest grossing film for April. "The Sword and the Sorcerer", a fantasy with Joe Regalbuto, led for the month with $36,714,025 as total gross. The lowest-grossing film for April 1982 was "AC/DC: Let There Be Rock", a film of the rock group's concert tour. It drew only $52,590.

The 1982 summer blockbuster season started in May with "Conan the Barbarian" starring future governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones and Max von Sydow, pulling in $38,264,085 in worldwide release. Far and away the leader for the month was "Rocky 3". The underdog boxing flick starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burgess Meredith, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Mr. T and Hulk Hogan garnered a total of $125,049,125 in worldwide release. "The Escape Artist" with Elizabeth Daily, John P. Ryan, Griffin O'Neal, Raul Julia and Teri Garr, came in last with $23,323 in U.S. release.

June saw the release of more blockbusters, some of them sequels. "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" brought the Starship Enterprise crew- William Shatner (Admiral James T. Kirk), Leonard Nimoy (Commander Spock), George Takei (Commander Hikaru Sulu), DeForest Kelley(Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy), James Doohan (Commander Montgomery "Scotty" Scott), Nichelle Nichols (Commander Nyota Uhura) and Walter Koenig (Commander Pavel Chekov)- together again, introduced Kirstie Alley( Lieutenant Saavik) and Ricardo Montalban (Kahn Noonien Singh) to Trekkies and grossed a total of $96,800,000 in worldwide release. Another high-grossing film released in June 1982 was "Poltergeist" with Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams and Beatrice Straight, which grossed $74,706,019 in U.S. release. Leading the pack for June, for 1982 and for a good part of the next two decades was "E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial", grossing $435,110,554 in U.S. release and $792,910,554 worldwide. Steven Spielberg's sci-fisupernova introduced Drew Barrymore to audiences and made "E.T. phone home!" part of the lexicon.

The juggernauts kept coming in July. But while "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" paired Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton gave comic Dom DeLuise a chance to strut as crusading televangelist Melvin P. Thorpe and expanded Charles Durning's reputation as a solid character actor, it grossed a relatively low $69,701,637. "The World According to Garp", based on the novel of the same title by John Irving and starring Robin Williams, John Lithgow, Glenn Close, Amanda Plummer, Swoosie Kurtz, Mary Beth Hurt, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and George Roy Hill, it grossed $30,207,324 in U.S. release. Trouncing everything else was Taylor Hackford's male-makeover story, "An Officer and a Gentleman", with Richard Gere, Debra Winger and Louis Gossett Jr., garnering $129,795,554 in worldwide release.

Another sequel led August 1982 releases. The teenage slasher flick "Friday the 13th Part 3" had a $4 million production budget and earned Paramount Pictures $33,985,198 in its U.S. release. "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" was popular with young audiences as well to the tune of $27,092,880 in U.S. release and started some relative unknowns- Nicolas Cage, Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Eric Stoltz and Judge Reinhold- on the road to much wider recognition. Aside from the rock group that gave the film its title, Bob Hoskins and Joanne Whalley were the only "name" actors in "Pink Floyd: The Wall", but fans of the group didn't care- its total U.S. take of $14,844,106 ranks it third among top-grossing, pictures for August 1982.

The summer blockbuster season began winding down in September, demonstrated by box office figures. The highest-grossing picture for the month, a horror flick titled "The Incubus", starring veterans John Cassavetes and John Ireland, had a total U.S. gross take of $13,110,874. A sequel that did fairly well despite its release in a lean month was "Amityville II: The Possession". It took in $11,328,000. Other films didn't do so well- "Inchon", a historical drama about the Korean War, cost $46,000,000, starred the renowned Laurence Olivier and Omar Sharif, David Janssen, Richard Roundtree, Ben Gazzara, Toshirô Mifune and Jacqueline Bisset and earned its studio, MGM/United Artists, only $4,408,636, less than a 10 percent return. The thriller "Hammett" with Frederic Forrest, Peter Boyle and Marilu Henner made only $8,222.

"First Blood", the first of what would become the Rambo series, starring Sylvester Stallone, debuted in October 1982 and earned $47,212,904 in its U.S. release and $125,000,000, almost three times that figure, when it went worldwide. "My Favorite Year" with Peter O'Toole, Mark Linn-Baker, Joseph Bologna and Jessica Harper, came in a distant second at $17,458,105 in U.S. release; "National Lampoon's Class Reunion" with Michael Lerner Anne Ramsey and John Hughes, who played a girl in a dress with a paper bag over her head, had a total U.S. gross of $16,550,727, and the teen slasher flick "Halloween 3: Season of the Witch" made $14,400,000 in its U.S. release.

November was a fairly quiescent month as far as movies released and the money they earned were concerned. "The Man From Snowy River" with Kirk Douglas playing the title character, a figure in Australian history, made $20,659,423, more than four times its $5,000,000 budget. Close behind, in terms of box office receipts, was "Creepshow", based on a story by horror-fantasy writer Stephen King. Ed Harris, Leslie Nielsen, Hal Holbrook, Ted Danson, Adrienne Barbeau and Gwen Verdon headed the cast; the author played a minor role and the movie made $20,036,244 in U.S. theaters. "They Call Me Bruce", a comedy about the Mafia, came in third in terms of U.S. gross with $12,925,437.

December 1982 saw the year come to a close with a winner that ranked with "E.T." among the top-grossing films of the year and at least the decade. "Tootsie" was budgeted at $15,000,000 and grossed $177,200,000 worldwide. Director Sydney Pollack played a character in a cast list headed by the cross-dressing Dustin Hoffman and including Charles Durning, Bill Murray, Geena Davis, Jessica Lange, Teri Garr, Estelle Getty, Dabney Coleman and George Gaynes. The buddy cop movie "48 Hrs." with Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte earned $75,936,265 and "The Verdict" grossed $53,977,250 to narrowly exceed its closest earnings competitor "Gandhi" ($52,767,889). Although critically acclaimed, "Sophie's Choice" pulled in $25,215,547, approximately half the "Gandhi" gross. "The Toy" with Richard Pryor did better: it earned $47,118,057 in U.S. release.

Which films ranked as the greatest of 1982 is contingent to some extent on the standards used to rate them. The Web site www.filmsite. org/80sintro.html, "Film History of the 1980s", gives a slightly different picture; it lists "Blade Runner", "Diner", "Eating Raoul", "E. T.- The Extra-Terrestrial", "Fast Times at Ridgemont High", "48 Hrs.", "Gandhi" "Missing", "Moonlighting", "An Officer and a Gentleman", "Poltergeist", "Road Warrior", "Sophie's Choice", "The Thing", "Tootsie" and "The Verdict" as the top 1982 movies. The Academy Awards judges saw things from an entirely different perspective: "Gandhi" came away with Best Picture, Best Actor (Ben Kingsley), Best Director (Richard Attenborough), Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Editing Oscars. Meryl Streep won Best Actress for "Sophie's Choice", Louis Gosset Jr. Best Supporting Actor ("An Officer and a Gentleman"), and Jessica Lange ("Tootsie"), Best Supporting Actress. "Missing" earned an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, "E.T." won Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Original Score. "Victor, Victoria" won Best Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score, the individual song "Up Where We Belong" from "An Officer and a Gentleman" took Best Original Song and "Quest for Fire " won the Oscar for Best Makeup.

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