VHS Revival brings you all the box office and rental happenings from March
March would see the release of Bob Swaim’s well received romantic thriller Masquerade. The movie would star a young Meg Tilly as Olivia, a recently orphaned millionairess who finds love with Rob Lowe‘s yacht racing captain.
Forced to live with her gold-digging stepfather and his girlfriend, Olivia finds relief in her dashing new beau, but when a cop friend turns a blind eye to some incriminating evidence, she begins to realise that he isn’t all that he seems.
Written by TV stalwart Dick Wolf (Miami Vice), the movie would be nominated for the 1989 Edgar Alan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture.
Also opening in theatres was Brian Gilbert’s fantasy-comedy Vice Versa. A male variation on Disney’s body-swapping romp, Freaky Friday, the movie stars Beverly Hills Cop‘s Judge Reinhold as a divorced executive who winds up in the body of his 11-year-old son thanks to the magical powers of a Tibetan skull.
The movie would also star Fred Savage at the peak of his Wonder Years popularity, his turn as a grumpy office dad of peewee proportions proving quite the performance. Despite this, the movie was a financial and critical failure, and would soon fade under the colossal shadow of Tom Hanks‘ Big, a similar and vastly superior movie released that summer.
Not satisfied with the Golden Raspberry-winning Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, Warner Brothers would subject audiences to a fifth instalment on the weekend of March 18.
Minus Steve Guttenberg‘s Mahoney – sometimes enough is enough – Hightower and the gang get up to their usual hi-jinks after the insufferable Commandant Lassard goes to Miami to receive an award.
Subtitled Assignment Miami Beach, Police Academy 5 was a dire as expected, but despite a torrent of critical backlash the movie did big numbers at the box office in a month which presented stiff competition. Such unwarranted financial success would lead to the cack-handed Police Academy 6: Mission to Moscow, a movie which defied all odds by becomng the very worst in the series.
Storming the box office charts for March was Mike Nichols’ comedy-drama Biloxi Blues. Adapted from a semi-autobiographical play by Neil Simon, the movie would star Ferris Bueller’s Matthew Broderick as a young army recruit attending boot camp during the Second World War.
Broderick would create the role of Eugene on Broadway, a character with three goals in life: to become a writer, lose his virginity and fall in love. It would also explore bigotry and racial segregation through the eyes of its Jewish protagonist.
Backed by a superb supporting cast that includes Chritopher Walken as a wonderfully concieved army drill seargeant, the movie would prove a critical and commercial success with a gross of more than $40,000,000. Biloxi Blues would also mark the onscreen debut of David Schwimmer, who would go on to to achieve global fame with mainstream sitcom Friends.
Not so well received was Bud Smith’s teen sports comedy Johnny Be Good. The movie would star John Hughes‘ Brat Pack favourite Anthony Michael Hall as a scrawny high school football star facing a romantic dilemma involving a young Uma Thurman.
Deemed a financial failure, the movie would mark a downturn in Hall’s career, leading Hollywood’s most lovable geek to pile on the muscle in an attempt to reinvent himself. The movie would also star Robert Downey Jr. and American Ninja‘s Steve James.
March would end with a Gothic explosion as Tim Burton‘s Beetlejuice opened in theatres. Played with frenetic indignantry by Michael Keaton, the movie’s eponymous villain would become a cult figure, his brand of lovable menace as endearing as it was disgusting.
Dissolving the lines between acceptable suburbia and the mysteriously Gothic, the movie tackles the ruthless nature of corporate America through the tenuous lens of the afterlife, as a recently deceased couple struggle with their purgatorial predicament.
Colourful and creative and crammed with mind-bending practical effects, the movie would catapult Tim Burton to superstardom, landing him the directorial role for the first two Batman movies.
US Box Office Charts for March
||Total Gross / Opening|
|2||The Fox and the Hound||Buena Vista||$23,556,988||$4,819,215|
|3||Police Academy 5||Warner Bros.||$19,510,371||$6,106,661|
|4||Johnny Be Good||Orion||$17,550,399||$5,249,388|
Top Video Rentals
March would see a fiercely contested video arena crammed with modern classics. Leading the way with two months in the number one spot was Oliver Stone‘s devastating war movie Platoon. Starring a young Charlie Sheen, this late-to-the-party portrayal of Vietnam would focus more on the individual, exploring the confusion and conflict existing within a single platoon.
The movie would also star Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger as warring Sergeants with opposing political views, the latter giving a career high performance as a battle-scarred soldier pushed to the brink of insanity in the midst of a pointless and unprofitable war. In relative terms, it was perhaps the most non-polemical vision of the 20th Century’s last ground-fought battle.
Another soldier movie riding high that month was John McTiernan‘s sci-fi classic Predator. The story of a group of soldiers sent to liberate some comrades in the South American jungle, the film would surprise audiences by flipping genres, swapping the blistering action for stalk-and-slash horror.
Featuring groundbreaking special effects and the kind of concept that would spawn an entire franchise, this slice of hypermasculinity would star a peak-of-his-powers Arnold Schwarzenegger, a box office giant who had evolved from a musclebound dummy into one of the most charismatic stars in the entire industry.
Sharing the top spot that month were two very different movies. Claiming top spot during the third week of March was Paul Vernhoeven‘s bloodthirsty sci-fi satire Robocop.
Previously known as a director of high art features, the Dutch filmmaker would give the genre a much-needed boost of intelligence, while appealing to the excesses of the ’80s audience.
Starring Peter Weller as a gunned-down cop given the cyborg treatment, the movie would cause quite the stir with the censorship boards, who would later pass the violence in its full, uncut form due to its savvy tongue-in-cheek style and comic book gore. Quite the achievment, for a director who leaves nothing to chance.
The second of those movies was superlative chick flick Dirty Dancing. Starring the late Patrick Swayze as a roguish dancer beset on liberating an oppressed, small-town girl (Jennifer Grey), the movie would achieve cult status in subsequent years, becoming one of the most iconic movies of the decade.
Dirty Dancing would also land Swayze a short-lived pop career after being chosen to perform She’s Like the Wind, one of many hits featured on the movie’s feel-good soundtrack.
Thanks to its stratospheric popularity, Dirty Dancing would prove somewhat resiliant in the rental charts, ending the month back in the top spot having fallen to third during its then 9 weeks in the charts.
Speaking of resilient, one movie that wouldn’t go away was Richard Donner’s genre high buddy picture Lethal Weapon.
In a month crammed with fresh, big-budget action flicks, Riggs and Murtaugh stayed the course like only they can, their inimitable brand of action-comedy proving an unmitigating financial draw.
Propelled by the blue-eyed charm of Mel Gibson and the incredible onscreen chemistry of he and co-star Danny Glover, the movie would dip in-and-out of the top 10 after an incredible 19 weeks in the charts, 7 weeks more than its closest competitor.
Flying the B-movie flag for March was low chart entry Revenge of the Nerds II. Subtitled Nerds in Paradise, this critically panned Revenge of the Nerds sequel did fantastic numbers at the box office, owing to the cult following of its superior predecessor.
A lousy movie with the kind of flimsy characters that fail to hold the attention, I have too much respect for our readers to bore you with the plot details.
An unlikely chart entry that month was exploitation flick Surf Nazis Must Die.
A revenge story involving a neo-Nazi surf gang in a post-apocalyptic future, the movie would become a favourite amongst bad movie aficionados, joining the exquisite B-movie canon of cult distributors Troma Entertainment.
The antithesis of ‘Nerds II’, this is one you should really take a look at for reasons that are largely inexplicable.
Video Rental Charts Week Ending March 5
Video Rental Charts Week Ending March 12
Video Rental Charts Week Ending March 19
|4||No Way Out||Orion||1987||R|
Video Rental Charts Week Ending March 26
|4||No Way Out||Orion||1987||R|
Cedric Smarts: Editor-in-Chief and Art Director
Science fiction author, horror enthusiast, scourge of plutocracy, shortlisted for the H. G. Wells Award, creator of vhsrevival.com
Likes: 80s poster art, Vangelis, classical liberalism, dystopian allegories, dissident political activism, Noam Chomsky, George Orwell, George Saunders, John Updike, Kurt Vonnegut