EMH Brings You - Top 5 movies I just simply cannot believe made over 100 million dollars domestically

by EMH

Okay, I am back with a another list. I should do more of these, but time is not something I have a great deal of these days.

I started looking at box office numbers the other day, and I wish we could all sit down and have a big discussion on just the way movies are marketed these days, what constitutes a success, a blockbuster, a smash hit, a sleeper, and independent, etc. 15 years ago a movie was considered a blockbuster if it made 100 million in the USA. Then "Waterworld" made us really look at the way we define a blockbuster, since 100 million dollars would not cover production costs, people still refer to "Waterworld" as a flop, despite its making 255 million worldwide.

First, the parameters. To make my list, it had to make over 100 million domestically (in the USA) but no more than 125 million. After 125 million, we would be in a whole different list. Also, just because I am surprised doesn't mean I don't like the movie. It only means I am shocked it did so well at the box office. You'll see what I mean.

Remember this...sequels to major hits are often horrible, but they do well at the box office, so that doesn't surprise. Any animated movie, especially one marketed by Disney, is a surprise if it doesn't make that much. Big, big names, or movies with expensive marketing campaigns are not surprises either.

Here we go...

5. Driving Miss Daisy - $106.5 million.

I was going to go with Wayne's World here. However, Wayne's World was the first modern day movie based on an SNL skit. Before that, the only one I can think of was The Blues Brothers. That was a big hit, so there was a precedent set. Plus, Wayne's World was funny. So, here's this story of an old lady being driven by Morgan Freeman. Look, Freeman is one of the best actors...well, ever. BUT, think of all the Morgan Freeman movies you can that came out before Driving Miss Daisy (1989). Not, Lean on Me, not Robin Hood, and certainly not Shawshank or Seven. He was unknown. I understand that after a movie wins some Oscars the numbers go up, and the movie is wonderful, but it's a guy driving a woman around. I was surprised. Remember what I said $100 million was a huge, huge number for a film in 1989.

4. City Slickers - $124 million.

I love Billy Crystal, but he is far from box office gold. And when you do think of comedy stars you must see, you don't normally think of Daniel Stern and Bruno Kirby. You certainly don't think of Jack Palance. Now, if I could go back and check the history, perhaps City Slickers made more money after Palance surprisingly won the Oscar for his role as Curly, and Crystal set the bar too high for any other Oscar host to ever reach. However, I don't think that was the case. People just loved this story.

3. Big Momma's House - $117 million


Sheesh! Probably the worst movie on this list. Martin Lawrence, way back when he was on Star Search, had amazing potential. He was a good storyteller. I said around age 15 that Martin Lawrence could be the next Bill Cosby. Only one problem. Cosby was gentle, sweet, and shunned profanity. Lawrence was more like Eddie Murphy, but without the sophistication. Murphy studied the craft of Cosby and Prior. Lawrence was just dirty. He wasn't playing to America. He was playing to black America, at least that was my opinion. Reasons for success: 1) African Americans will support African American actors. If Denzel is in a movie, ANY movie, than African Americans will see it. 2) It was a summer comedy. People go to the movies more in the summer. 3) It was summer of 2000. The recession had not started yet, and people were spending more. Notice none of these reasons have anything to do with the quality of the film. 

2. Twins - $111.9 million.

You've got to be kidding me. One huge star before he was governor. However, he was a huge action star, and their wasn't a lot of precedent for this type of crossover. And DeVito, well, he's underrated as an actor, but he's not a big draw. And let's not forget that the movie was not good. Big surprise to me, but the fact that the movie did have one major headliner keeps it from being as big of a surprise as...

1. Miss Congeniality - $106.8 million.

Sandra Bullock was not an A-lister. It's the comedy genre, which is hard to achieve high dollars in unless you have a much bigger name, and you usually need more than one. One exception would be the raunchy comedy genre, but Miss Congeniality was a pretty squeaky clean comedy by comparison to, say, a Superbad or a Knocked Up.

For those of you thinking My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Blair Witch, Passion of the Christ, etc., remember the movie could not make more than 125 million.

See you next time,

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