Okay, this list was much harder to compose. I was dealing with a far greater number of pictures this time around. Once again, please remember just because the success of a movie is shocking doesn't mean it's a movie that was not good. Also, don't forget how so much of a movie's success has to do with marketing, the mood of the population, the economy, and release date.
All those things considered, here we go...
5. The Exorcist (165 million)
I am only giving credit to this film for it's first US release. If my math is correct, it's the 13th hghest R-Rated movie of all time. That being said, it's essentially a horror movie. Is there a horror movie with a greater box office draw? If you count Jaws as a suspense film as opposed to horror, then The Exorcist has made more money than any horror movie ever. Let's not forget how sensitive this country was about religious topics on film back in the day. I live in Alabama, where people boycotted theaters for showing The Ten Commandments. Furthermore, no star power whatsoever! Max Von Sydow wouldn't explode onto the scene as Ming the Merciless in Flash Gordon until some time around 1980. And Linda Blair? Well, there was The Exorcist 2.
4. Juno (143.4 million)
Yeah, I don't normally want to put something so new on a list because I think our minds are trained to give more credence to "the now." However, look at the facts. Jason Bateman is pretty solid as a supporting actor right now, and Alison Janney had one of the better television roles of all time on "The West Wing," but Ellen Page? Yeah, the little girl from X-Men 3! 140 million + for a movie that so many people where I live still have not heard of. I just saw it a few days ago. I was impressed. This Page girl is good. But who saw this coming from this movie?
3. The Blair Witch Project (140.5 million)
Some of you are saying to yourselves right now "How is this not number one?" Well, stay tuned. Look, Blair Witch was a shock. Heck, it made number three on this list! What is had going for it? Three unheard of's (isn't it funny how they are once again unheard of's? Quick, try to think of any of the actors in that movie), horrible budget, no music, yada, yada, yada. However, what knocks it down on this list is the gimmick of it all. Once the is-it-true-or-is-it-fake story broke, and all the kids were buzzing about it, Blair Witch became the movie everyone had to see! Once the gimmick has you hooked? The success became a little less shocking. You want proof it was a gimmick and no one was really invested in the movie: Blair Witch - 140 million. Blair Witch 2 - 26 million. Blair Witch 3 (which Artisan RE-affirmed it's commitment to make in 2002) - NEVER MADE. FUN FACT: One of the dudes from Blair Witch was the voice of Tyler in the video game Fight Club. The other two actors in the movie made appearances on the crime drama Without a Trace. Way to go guys. Good job cashing in on that success.
2. Crocodile Dundee (174.8)
Let's face it, this is what this list is about. Taking a movie you haven't thought about in years, a film that today would be more of a punchline than an example of box office success. I'll bet 90% or more of you who read this will have had no idea of the stats you are about to hear. 1st - In 1986, only one movie made more money: Top Gun, and the Tom Cruise action flick, which had a very friendly summer release made LESS THAN 2 MILLION more domestically than Dundee, which had to suffer through a horrible release time of late September. Dundee was also PG-13, which doesn't mean much today, but it was still a new rating in 1986, and parents were much more cautious about letting their young ones see those movies. Top Gun, by the way, was PG. This movie was so big, even the sequel, which was also terrible, made over 100 million. Paul Hogan was a nobody. He was not an up and coming. He was not a little-known indie actor launching a big studio career. He was NOBODY! Let's look at the supporting cast: Linda Kozlowski, John Meillon, Ernie Dingo, Steve Rackman. WHO??? Well, at least Reginald VelJohnson (who played the dad on family matters, and that cop who talked nice to Bruce Willis in Die Hard) was a limo driver who had about two lines in the movie. Maybe that's the star power I am not giving enough credit. Look, the bottom line is Crocodile Dundee had NOTHING going for it, except the hope that this "fish out of water" story would strike a cord with Americans. Well, it did. How many times did we all say "That's not a knife (cocky grin). That's a knife." FUN FACT: Yes, in 2001, there was a third Crocodile Dundee movie. Yes, it made money. It grossed 25.6 million domestically in 2001. Sadly, that is more money than Memento, Heist, Joe Somebody, and Summer Catch. So after all that, how could Dundee not top the list? Well, becuase of this other little film...
1. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (128 million)
Listen carefully. Add up the domestic box office numbers for Life is Beautiful, Amelie, and Pan's Labyrinth. These are three of the top five grossing foreign language films of all time in the USA. You'll come up with a number that barely tops (about 200,000 dollars) Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Look, Passion of the Christ aside, foreign language films do not make money here. People do not go to the movies to read. And it's not like Crouching Tiger had an established story that people had been studying for hundreds and hundreds of years (Passion), or even a big star to draw in numbers. You see, when the number one is such a no-brainer (to me, anyway), there isn't much that needs to be said. This movie was already the biggest foreign language film in the US before all the Oscar nominations, so I can't totally attribute its success to that. Plus, Pan's Labyrinth, Amelie, and Life is Beautiful all had similar Oscar praise, so why didn't they do so well?
Well, there you have it. My top five. Now I am afraid to even think about the next one 200 million - 250 million. Sheesh! I need a weekend off. That's it for me. Thanks for your support in reading my works. Please leave your rants back to me. I need to know what kind of lists you are craving for.
By the way, my honorable mentions...
My Best Friend's Wedding (over 125 million)
Remember, this is pre- 27 Dresses, Enchanted, Sweet Home Alabama, Legally Blonde. You didn't see women carry movies by themselves so much. Julia hadn't had a hit in over three years. And usually a romantic comedy has to have a bonefide leading man. And I am still shocked a movie made that much money in a situation where the leading lady did not get the guy.
The Waterboy (161.5 million)
It's just not that funny to me. Plus, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and Bulletproof were hits, but they didn't skyrocket off the charts like Waterboy. I would prefer any of those three preceding movies to Sandler playing a mentally challenged football player.