Creative disputes, box office behemoths and behind the scenes scandals, VHS Revival brings you all the retro movie news from November 1992
Withnail and I’s Bruce Robinson, a filmmaker known almost exclusively for comedy, released crime thriller Jennifer 8 on November 6 to very little fanfare. Robinson, who wrote the screenplay with the sole intention of manufacturing a box office hit that would allow him the freedom to explore other projects, produced such a commercial misfire that the movie was released straight to video in his native UK. He would not direct for another 19 years.
Though Robinson’s intention was to appease investors, he would clash with Paramount Pictures almost immediately after the studio refused to hire composer Christopher Young at the director’s behest. Young, who had already delivered notable horror scores for A Nightmares on Elm Street sequel Freddy’s Revenge and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, was deemed too low-key for a project that was originally set to star a hotter-than-ever Al Pacino.
Paramount instead hired French composer Maurice Jarre, a three-time Academy Award winner (Best Original Score for Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India) who was also schooled in the ways of the modern thriller after working on Witness and the hugely popular Fatal Attraction. Jarre had since been dubbed the studio’s “lucky charm” having contributed to the unmitigated success of the Oscar-winning Ghost a year prior. Convincing the studio that he wasn’t the right fit was not going to be easy.
Despite such accolades (Jarre also won four Golden Globes, two BAFTA Awards and a Grammy Award during his long and storied career), a stubborn Robinson felt that the studio’s darling wasn’t right for the project and made life difficult for the composer. Young was eventually hired after the studio relented but the damage was done. Following the experience, Robinson became disenfranchised with the restrictive nature of the Hollywood machine and relinquished directorial pursuits to concentrate on writing.
The story of a burnt-out LA cop who takes a small town job after the dissolution of his marriage, only to be confronted with a possible serial killer, Jennifer 8 would co-star a rookie Uma Thurman as a blind love interest who inevitably gets caught up in the fracas. Though featuring strong support from the likes of Lance Henriksen and John Malkovich, the film was criticized for its contrived plot and inability to deliver on its promising set-up.
In his review for The Chicago Sun Times, critic Roger Ebert would lament, ‘”Jennifer 8″ promises a plot of excruciating complexity, but the storyline turns relentlessly dumb. By the end the characters might as well be wearing name tags: “Hi! I’m the serial killer!” This is the kind of movie where everybody makes avoidable errors in order for the plot to wend its torturous way to an unsatisfactory conclusion.’
Jennifer 8 would manage a woeful return of $11,390,479, a little over half of its estimated $20,000,000 outlay.
Following on from star-making turns in innovative ‘hood movies’ New Jack City and White Men Can’t Jump, Wesley Snipes would ascend to the realms of action movie heroism in plane-bound crime thriller Passenger 57. Originally intended as a Stallone vehicle, the film would provide an early role for future Austin Powers star Elizabeth Hurley as a double-crossing ‘air hostess’ who becomes central to a terrorist plot that Snipes’ security expert John Cutter is tasked with taking down. Passenger 57 would prove so successful Snipes was cast alongside Stallone the following year in Marco Brambilla’s Demolition Man, solidifying the actor’s newly acquired headliner status.
Passenger 57, which introduced audiences to the trademark quip “always bet on black,” was a turning point for an actor whose likability and charisma would transform him into the Eddie Murphy of the 90s (ironically, Murphy was also considered for the lead). Snipes would star in an incredible 24 features in a decade he would practically own, even landing a lucrative, three-picture deal with New Line Cinema and Marvel Enterprises to headline cult comic book adaptation Blade.
Thanks to a series of legal problems with the US government, the actor’s stock would plummet just as spectacularly. On October 12, 2006, Snipes was charged with conspiracy to defraud the US government, one count of knowingly making or aiding and abetting the making of a false and fraudulent claim, and six counts of willfully failing to file federal income tax returns by their filing dates. After a series of direct-to-DVD films and several further misdemeanors, Snipes was eventually sentenced to three years in prison for willful failure to file federal income tax returns under 26 U.S.C. § 7203.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Snipes, who is set to star alongside Murphy in belated Coming to America sequel Coming 2 America, was asked how such a high-profile conviction has effected his career. “You’ll have to get that perspective from those in the business who were the gatekeepers,” Snipes would reply. “As far as the streets were concerned, it didn’t change their appreciation for my work and my artistry one bit. Not one bit… The biggest thing I got from [the prison experience] was learning the value of time and how we often squander it… I understand that very clearly now, having been away from my family and loved ones [for] two and a half years.”
Don’t bet against a renaissance comeback as an ex-con looking to go straight.
The latest Die Hard derivative to bear fruit in a decade that gave us Die Hard on a boat (Under Siege), Die Hard on a bus (Speed) and Die Hard on a train (Under Siege 2: Dark Territory), Passenger 57 charted at number 1 in the US with an opening weekend of $10,513,925 and a total gross $44,065,653. Not bad for a movie that cost approximately $15,000,000.
After the success of 1989’s The Little Mermaid — a movie credited with dredging Disney’s hand-drawn traditions out of the creative doldrums — and the utterly magical Beauty and the Beast, the company was in the midst of its second Golden Age in 1992, November’s blistering musical fantasy Aladdin only bolstering what would become known as the Disney Renaissance, a period of choreographed wonderment that was unprecedented in the realms of modern animation.
Key to the Disney resurgence were Little Shop of Horrors collaborators Howard Ashman, who first pitched the idea of adding Aladdin to the Disney universe, and Alan Menken, who composed the film’s mesmerizing score. The pair had previously collaborated on The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, providing music and lyrics, respectively, though Ashman’s tragic passing to a heart attack during Aladdin‘s production meant he was only able to contribute to three numbers: ‘Arabian Nights’, ‘Friend Like Me’ and ‘Prince Ali’. Unsurprisingly, they’re the most memorable in the entire movie.
Menken, who would go on to work on Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules and Tangled, would receive an incredible eight Academy Awards (eleven nominations), eleven Grammy Awards (twelve nominations), one Tony Award (four nominations), and one Daytime Emmy Award during a glittering career, as well as seven Golden Globe Awards (nine nominations), one Drama Desk Award (five nominations), and three Outer Critics Awards.
Ashman was just as lauded by his peers. In a considerably shorter time period, the lyricist would bag two Academy Awards (seven nominations), five Grammy Awards (twelve nominations), two Golden Globe Awards (seven nominations), a Drama Desk Award (four nominations), a Laurence Olivier Award (two nominations), a New York Drama Critic Circle Award, two Outer Critics Circle Awards, an Evening Standard Award, and a New York Drama Critic Circle Award, with a further four Tony Award Nominations to his name. Together, the two of them were simply magic.
Aladdin doesn’t quite match Beauty and the Beast for sheer artistry, but it more than makes up for it in fun and frolics. Disney’s most inspired decision was casting the late, great Robin Williams as the real star of the show, Genie, a beleaguered, millennia-old granter of wishes who longs to be free — the proviso being that his master would have to wish for his freedom, and how many people are selfless enough to do that given the opportunity of a lifetime? Williams, who was simply born to voice animation, goes above and beyond, giving arguably the greatest performance of the hand-drawn era.
Genie’s latest master is a plucky, young ‘street rat’ named Aladdin, a pauper with the heart of a prince who attempts to win the affections of Princess Jasmine, a free spirit burdened with the traditions of an arranged marriage. Aladdin wants the Genie to elevate his status but Jasmine isn’t interested in such chauvinistic twaddle, picking up where Beauty and the Beast‘s ground-breaking Belle left off by showing fierce independence. The female characters of Disney’s second Golden Age were a far cry from those early films, which mostly portrayed women as hopeless damsels in need of rescuing.
Aladdin is aided by an endearing entourage that includes the feisty, yet goodhearted capuchin monkey Abu and the hugely endearing Magic Carpet, a character who expresses himself entirely through pantomime. As well as being tricky to animate, Magic Carpet’s detailed surface design had to be applied digitally, which was groundbreaking stuff at the time, and an early indication of where the company was heading. Aladdin also features two of Disney’s greatest villains in Agrabah’s megalomaniacal Grand vizier Jafar and his curmudgeon parrot Lago.
Bagging two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song (A Whole New World), Aladdin cleaned-up at the box office, managing an eye-watering $504,000,000 on a budget of just £28,000,000 to become the year’s most successful film. Howard Ashman would have been proud.
It was Winona Ryder who first brought Dracula to Francis Ford Coppola’s attention, though the two had not been on the best of terms following the actress’ late withdrawal from the critically misunderstood Godfather Part III. Ryder, who felt that Coppola disliked her, assumed he simply wouldn’t read James V. Hart’s script, but he immediately fell in love with it. “I never really thought he would read it,” she admitted. “He was so consumed with Godfather III. As I was leaving, I said, ‘If you have a chance, read this script.’ He glanced down at it politely, but when he saw the word Dracula, his eyes lit up. It was one of his favourite stories from camp.”
And so Coppolla’s vision of one of horror’s most enduring tales was born, but not before adding the name Bram Stoker to the title to avoid legal issues. In the movie, Gary Oldman’s deliriously operatic Count pursues the fiancée of Keanu Reeves’ young attorney, Jonathan Harker, who has been invited to his castle on business. The Count has been waiting centuries to be reunited with his lost love, and after spying a photograph of the beautiful Mina Murray, he feels his wait is finally over. Despite her concerns, Rider was ultimately cast as Murray, which would lead to onset problems with Oldman (the two couldn’t stand to be in the same room together).
Placing a huge emphasis on an ensemble cast that included Richard E. Grant, cult musician Tom Waits and Sir Anthony Hopkins, Coppola would pump huge sums into lavish costumes and set designs, delivering an aesthetically lush tale that transcended even the most romantic adaptations. His attention to detail was just as astonishing. An artist was brought in to storyboard the entire film in advance with approximately 1000 images, which were then transformed into a rudimentary animation film featuring music and spliced-in scenes from Jean Cocteau’s romantic fantasy film La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast).
Particular attention was given to the eponymous Count, a fiendishly decrepit creation with an incessant self-regard who changes form at will and shudders orgasmically at the taste of blood. The works of Symbolist artists were also inserted into the film’s animated storyboard as a way to establish Coppola’s vision and steer the film’s designers from any notion of convention for characters with long-established visual and thematic traditions. “‘Weird’ became a code word for ‘Let’s not do formula,'” Coppolla would tell Entertainment Weekly. “‘Give me something that either comes from the research or that comes from your own nightmares.'”
Coppola wasn’t totally dismissive of Dracula’s cinematic traditions, resisting the use of evolving CGI technology in favour of traditional practical effects, particularly the manipulation of light and shadows. After firing a visual effects team who insisted that his vision could not be achieved without the aid of modern digital technology, the director would replace the compositing process with instances of rear projection, multiple exposure and matting techniques, which all added to the film’s formidable visuals.
The movie, which was criticized for its quasi-precocious excesses — perhaps a reflection of the director’s childlike enthusiasm for the tale — was even dubbed ‘The Bonfire of the Vampires’ in a nod to Brian De Palma’s monumental creative flop The Bonfire of the Vanities, though Roger Ebert praised the film’s aesthetics, writing, “I enjoyed the movie simply for the way it looked and felt. Production designers Dante Ferretti and Thomas Sanders have outdone themselves.”
Dracula’s continued popularity was reflected at the box office, Bram Stoker’s Dracula managing a blood-replenishing $215,800,000 on a budget of $40,000,000.
The second instalment of an incomplete trilogy produced by Mad Max‘s George Miller, John Duigan’s Australian coming-of-age drama Flirting, released on November 14, would star a fresh-faced Thandie Newton and rising international star Nicole Kidman, whose stock had soared following her recent, high-profile marriage to Hollywood megastar Tom Cruise.
Kidman, who met Cruise on the set of Tony Scott’s 1990 American Sports Drama Days of Thunder, had already achieved international acclaim in Phillip Noyce’s Australian horror Dead Calm by the time Flirting went into production, which may have contributed to the underwhelming reception for a film that was set to be the actress’ grand farewell on home shores.
Newton, making her film debut at the age of 16, claimed that director Duigan, then 39, coerced her into a sexual relationship that deeply affected her emotionally and psychologically, even though his actions were not strictly illegal (the age of consent was 16 in Australia). Newton would eventually seek therapy to comes to terms with feelings of self-destruction resulting from her lack of control over the situation.
Responding to articles that described the relationship as an ‘affair’ of mutual consent, Newton would say. “I would talk about it a lot in the press, as you know. I think it’s because I was traumatized…” If someone brought it up — and of course they’re going to bring it up in a fucking interview, man — if they spoke about it in a way that’s not sympathetic or they called it an affair, it was insult to injury. It’s like re-abuse. I think the reason I talked about it a lot, too, is I’m trying to find someone who understands. I’m looking for help. It’s so fucking obvious to me. What is the point if we don’t expose what needs to be exposed?”
The story of two freethinking teenagers battling with the teachers of an authoritarian boarding school, the film would sweep the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards, winning Best Film (Terry Hayes, Doug Mitchell, George Miller), Best Achievement in Editing (Robert Gibson), and Best Achievement in Production Design (Roger Ford), with a further three nominations for Best Achievement in Sound (Antony Gray, Ross Linton, Phil Judd), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Bartholomew Rose) and Best Achievement in Cinematography (Geoff Burton).
Receiving mixed-to-positive reviews in the States, Flirting would fail to capture the public’s imagination with a box office return of roughly $4,000,000.
Denzel Washington tackled his most demanding role to date in Spike Lee’s controversial biography of African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist Malcolm Little, Malcolm X, released on November 18. A leading figure during the Civil Rights Movement, Little was assassinated on February 21, 1965 following intense conflicts with Nation of Islam members, an organisation for which he was once a vocal spokesman. Little is regarded as the second most influential leader of the Nation of Islam after Elijah Muhammad.
Malcolm X ran into problems long before the movie went into production. Race was of course at the centre of those problems. To begin with, studios were hesitant to take on the project due to Malcolm’s real-life denunciation of whites. When sales for Malcolm X and Alex Haley’s ‘The Autobiography of Malcolm X’, first published in 1965, increased nine-fold between between 1986 and 1991, just prior to the LA Riots, Warner Bros. had a change of heart.
Multi Oscar-nominated director Norman Jewison, who was able to snag Washington based on their previous collaboration in 1984’s A Soldier’s Story, was initially chosen for the project due to his work on seminal civil rights film In the Heat of the Night, but producer Spike Lee and several peers protested his involvement, feeling it more appropriate that the project went to a black director. That director turned out to be Lee, who immediately ran into problems himself.
Since Lee’s previous five films had grossed less than $100,000,000 combined, Warner Brothers refused to pony up the $33,000,000 requested — a perfectly reasonable amount for a movie of such scope (the film would run for a whopping 202 minutes). Lee was offered $20,000,000 plus $8 ,000,000 from Largo Entertainment, but the film was initially shut down after the director went $5,000,000 over budget. Lee, who had contributed a total of $5,000,000 of his own money, took the conflict public in the hope of wrestling back control of the project, turning to other prominent African-American celebrities to help raise money. Washington also contributed his salary to get the film made.
Warner had demanded that Lee keep the film at just over two hours, which would have meant a significant trimming-down of events, but the intervention of such luminaries as Michael Jordan and Oprah Winfrey ensured that Lee was able to tell Malcolm’s story as he had originally intended. “This is not a loan. [those who rescued the movie] are not investing in the film,” Lee would declare in an interview with The New York Times. “These are black folks with some money who came to the rescue of the movie. As a result, this film will be my version. Not the bond company’s version, not Warner Brothers’. I will do the film the way it ought to be, and it will be over three hours.”
Listed as one of the best ten movies of the 90s by former Lee mentor Martin Scorsese and proclaimed the film of the year by Roger Ebert, Malcolm X would underwhelm at the box office despite such widespread controversy, managing $55,900,000 on a total budget of approximately $35,000,000. With 201 mins 58 seconds of screen time, Washington’s performance is the longest to ever receive an Academy Award nomination (Best Actor). The film would receive no further nominations.
November 20 saw the release of Abel Ferrara’s brutally honest character study Bad Lieutenant, a film memorable for Harvey Keitel’s fearless portrayal of a rotten-to-the-core police lieutenant abusing his power in every way imaginable through drugs, gambling, and even the verbal rape of two minors in the film’s most shocking scene. Keitel throws himself down a bottomless emotional hole, delivering one of the most powerful and underappreciated performances of the century. As harrowing and emotionally draining as the film is, I’m very much looking forward to covering this one in long form.
Ferrera’s neo-noir crime drama, which does offer a degree of redemption in the most nihilistic sense, was subjected to several on-the-fly rewrites during production, a process which proved just as conflicting and tumultuous. According to actress and co-screenwriter Zoë Lund, Ferrera made very little contribution to the film. Lund went as far as claiming that she wrote the screenplay entirely, even directing several scenes, though according to filmmaker Jonas Mekas, Lund’s ex-boyfriend Edouard de Laurot was responsible for writing the majority of the script.
Discussing the Bad Lieutenant screenplay, Lund aka Zoë Tamerlaine would suggest that Ferrera’s collaborators would not always get the recognition their efforts warranted. “Abel [Ferrera] is a wonderful director,” Lund would claim. “But he is not a screenwriter, and somehow…[sighs], with me, that second credit [Ferrera] has, really is not accurate, and even with [long-time Ferrera collaborator] Nicholas St John, for some reason, people seem to think that Abel writes the scripts. He does not, you know, and Nicky should get his credit where it’s due and so should I.”
St. John refused to work with Ferrera on Bad Lieutenant due to the film’s dark religious iconography, which the devout Catholic found extremely blasphemous, and even from the perspective or someone who isn’t religious, it’s easy to see how a person of faith would be offended (the context of those images are absolutely startling). St. John would go on to pen Ferrera’s The Addiction (1995) and The Funeral (1996), though the two would soon part ways indefinitely over a suspected falling out.
Speaking in 2015, Ferrera would say of their split, “[John and I] started making films when we were 16, and then at a certain point he just had enough, you dig? He didn’t dig the business, he didn’t dig the spirituality of the business, didn’t dig the lifestyle; and at the height of his game, of our game, he just said: enough.” Unsurprisingly, the film was banned in Ireland, as was the DVD release a decade later.
The movie, which would receive the dreaded NC-17 rating in the US due to its explicit sexual content, was re-edited for an R rating specifically so Blockbuster and other rental stores, who had a strict policy on NC-17 releases, could stock and rent the movie. Described as being a “notch nicer than Satan” by The Washington Post’s Desson Howe, Bad Lieutenant received almost widespread critical acclaim, though it went almost completely unnoticed at the box office, making $2,000,000 on a budget of only $1,000,000
On a lighter note, cutesy rapscallion Macaulay Culkin returned just in time for the festive season with like-for-like Home Alone sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. This was hardly surprising given the success of the original movie, which with an eye-watering return of $476,700,000 was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest-grossing live-action comedy in history until The Hangover Part II usurped it more than twenty years later. Home Alone was also the third-highest-grossing film of all time worldwide by the time it left theatres, remaining the highest-grossing Christmas film until The Grinch in 2018. The movie famously coined the Hollywood term, ‘to be Home Aloned’, which means having the impact of your box office affected by another film.
To say Home Alone 2 had much to live up to is a gross understatement, and it inevitably fell short both creatively and financially. Burdened with the unlikely premise that lovable scamp Kevin McAllister has been abandoned two years running (if the McAllisters’ carelessness was forgivable the first time around, by now it’s pure criminal neglect), the sequel would stay overbearingly close to the original, though at the time that’s exactly what kids wanted (I should know).
This time, Kevin mistakenly hops on a flight to the perilously cold New York City while his family jet off for a sunshine Christmas in Miami, inevitably running into the notorious (at least in their minds) Wet Bandits, played by a returning Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci. Once again Kevin enjoys the freedom of being away from his parents (he’s getting pretty good at this) until inevitably realizing that family is everything by way of Eddie Bracken’s philanthropic toy store owner, Mr. Duncan, and Brenda Fricker’s homeless neglectee The Pigeon Lady, a thinly-veiled clone of Home Alone‘s Old Man Marley whose makeshift home in the rafters of the Radio City Music Hall would make the world’s richest billionaires elf-green with envy. Hollywood idealism, eh?
All of this leads to the requisite ‘house of horrors’ finale in the conveniently vacated townhouse of Kevin’s uncle (it’s undergoing revocation), a colossal death trap where Kevin inflicts the kind of pain that is more cruel than funny. By the movie’s end, you kind of feel sorry for Harry and Marv, whose petty crimes — like taping their hands and fishing for money in poor boxes — are pure child’s play and doomed from the outset. The scene in which Kevin repeatedly launches bricks at the hapless Marv simply would not exist in a kids movie today.
Home Alone 2 still has its charms, particularly a series of scenes involving the typically brilliant Tim Curry as a petty and spiteful hotel manager looking to foil Kevin’s auspicious stay. John Williams also returns to add his inimitable festive magic. His contributions to both Home Alone movies cannot be underestimated.
The insanely popular Culkin, who would star in Michael Jackson’s ‘Black or White’ video released the same month, even appearing front row at 1991’s Wrestlemania VII, was paid a whopping $4,500,000 million (more than a sixth of the film’s $28,000,000 production budget) for starring in the sequel. Quite the pay hike from the $110,000 he received for the original.
Home Alone 2 was almost universally slammed by critics. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times would criticise the film’s often misguided use of violence, writing, “cartoon violence is only funny in cartoons. Most of the live-action attempts to duplicate animation have failed, because when flesh-and-blood figures hit the pavement, we can almost hear the bones crunch, and it isn’t funny.”
Though considerably less than the record-breaking original, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York proved an unmitigated hit with a whopping return of approximately $359,000,000 in what was an incredibly fruitful month for the movie industry.
Few twists have shocked me like the one featured in Neil Jordan’s astonishing IRA thriller The Crying Game. Typically, a truly shocking twist is preceded by reams of convolution, tying you up with so many twists and turns that you can’t see the woods for the trees. Others incongruously dump a twist in your lap for pure shock value, regardless of the build (think Robert Hiltzik’s cult slasher Sleepaway Camp, which, even more incongruously, The Crying Game has something in common with). What many shock-twist thrillers have in common is that they jeopardize story and characterization for narrative convenience. The Crying Game is not one of them.
Inevitably, The Crying Game‘s shock reveal was reviled and ridiculed in some circles. I was lucky enough to be raised free from prejudice, but the transgender landscape was rather different at the turn of the 90s; it wasn’t really talked about, barely acknowledged. The fact that Jordan’s film got us invested in a seemingly heterosexual relationship, only drop an atom bomb of emotional conflict, wasn’t only radical back in 1992, it was utterly fearless.
Originally titled ‘The Soldier’s Wife’ until Stanley Kubrick convinced Jordan otherwise based on the belief that titles with military and religious connotations are a deterrent to audiences, the film explores the relationship between a kidnapped British solider and an IRA member tasked with holding her hostage, earning rave reviews and a string of accolades, including six Academy Awards nominations and one win (Best British Film). The film was nominated for an astonishing 55 awards internationally.
Inevitably, Jordan would struggle to acquire financing due to the film’s controversial themes, but also because of the filmmaker’s recent track record, a string of commercial failures seeing his stock plummet. The Crying Game went into production backed by an inadequate smattering of funds, initially failing at the UK box office with a return of $2,000,000, though the film was eventually picked up on US shores by a fledgling Miramax, two years before commercial phenomenon Pulp Fiction became the first independent film to gross more than $200,000,000, where it quickly became a considerable hit.
Starring Stephen Rea, Jaye Davidson, Miranda Richardson, Forest Whitaker and Jim Broadbent, The Crying Game would rake in $62,500,000 million at the US box office, a substantial amount for a production that cost only $2,300,000.
The second most successful film of November was Mike Jackson’s romantic-thriller-come-pop-music-vehicle The Bodyguard. The second-highest grossing film of 1992 behind Aladdin and the tenth highest-grossing movie of all time, the film, which starred a red-hot Kevin Costner and a positively flaming Whitney Houston, was widely panned for its weak performances and even weaker screenplay.
The story of a no-nonsense bodyguard who has his professionalism tested while protecting Houston’s fictional celebrity from a mysterious stalker, The Bodyguard‘s credibility shrank under the intensity of its months-long promotional hype, receiving seven Golden Raspberry nominations, including Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Costner) and Worst Actress (Houston). Hilariously, Costner’s even more no-nonsense haircut was nominated for Worst New Star. And deservedly so.
Musically, it couldn’t have been a more different story. Houston’s crowd-pleasing cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ sold twenty-million copies worldwide, becoming the biggest-selling physical single by a female artist ever and spending an incredible 14 weeks at the top of the US Billboard Hot 100. Five of the songs featured on the film’s soundtrack (“I Will Always Love You”, “I’m Every Woman”, “I Have Nothing”, “Run to You”, and “Queen of the Night”) became hit singles, the first two nominated for Academy Awards for Best Original Song. The soundtrack was also nominated for four Grammy Awards, winning three.
Following Houston’s tragic passing to acute cocaine intoxication twenty years after The Bodyguard‘s release, Costner, who starred in a string of critically maligned films during the 90s, was asked by Houston’s family to speak at the star’s funereal based on the pair’s enduring relationship. “I talked about what we had in common,” the actor would reveal. “I think when people look at us on paper they don’t think we have a thing in common. It was a story of us.”
Commercially, The Bodyguard more than lived up to the hype, bringing in a mammoth $411,000,000 on a budget of only $25,000,000 and remaining in the Top 10 for a hugely impressive 10 weeks. If nothing else, the film is a testament to one of the most astonishing vocal talents of the late-20th century.