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Surprise Hits - "Blockbuster" Movies

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  • Surprise Hits - "Blockbuster" Movies

    There are a few others that might go here, "Star Wars" could be one that comes to many minds. However, here's a sleeper of sorts, from 1980. Came across this article and had to admit, the author has a point. "Blues Brothers" has held up rather well over time, though wasn't so greatly received when it first came out. "Caddyshack" maybe, maybe more "meh?". But come to think of it, there may be a point here regards "Airplane!";

    Airplane! Is Considered One of the Best Comedies of All Time. But 40 Years Ago No One Saw it Coming.

    In the summer of 1980, there were only two big-studio comedies that anyone was buzzing about. Neither one of them was Airplane!
    Forty years ago, the summer movie season looked like a very different beast than the one we know today. Night and day, really. Back in 1980, as Memorial Day approached, there was only a small handful of sequels on the release schedule, but they were mainly of the Smokey and the Bandit and Cheech and Chong variety. Sure, the can’t-miss blockbuster, The Empire Strikes Back, was on the calendar, too. But the very idea of superhero movies didn’t exist yet, unless you counted the lone exception of Christopher Reeve’s Superman II. In other words, it was a better and simpler time when celluloid comedies still had a fighter’s chance in the warm-weather marketplace. And heading into that long, hot summer four decades past, there were only two big-studio comedies that anyone was buzzing about. Neither one of them was Airplane!

    After the hand-over-fist box-office success of National Lampoon’s Animal House in July of 1978, summer quickly became the playing field where Hollywood would plant its funny flag. Made for just $2.7 million, the rude and crude snobs-vs-slobs frat-house comedy directed by John Landis and starring Saturday Night Live’s John Belushi would rack up more than $140 million, blowing past Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles as the highest-grossing comedy of all time. Overnight, everyone in Burbank and Culver City wanted to be in business with the creative team behind the out-of-nowhere hit.
    Airplane! grew out of the childhood friendship between three men named David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker (a creative team later re-christened “ZAZ” after the initials of their last names). In 1971, while attending the University of Wisconsin in Madison, the trio had created a sketch comedy troupe called The Kentucky Fried Theater. They were also obsessed with old movies—the cheesier the better—often getting together to watch them with the sound off as they ad-libbed their own nonsensical dialogue, sort of like a prototype of Mystery Science Theater 3000. One of those movies was Zero Hour!, a preposterously straight-faced 1957 B-movie starring Dana Andrews and Sterling Hayden. The plot, such as it was, revolved around a commercial flight in which the plane’s pilots and passengers suffered food poisoning, forcing an ex-WWII fighter pilot to step into the cockpit and land the airliner in heavy fog. Immediately, they realized that the idea was ripe for parody.
    But now let’s return to that summer 40 years ago. After going weeks over schedule and soaring millions over budget (thanks in part to John Belushi’s spiraling cocaine habit), Universal’s eagerly awaited The Blues Brothers finally opened on June 20. The reviews were lukewarm. Beloved as it may now be for some, at the time it quickly became clear to both the studio and Landis that their film would not be another Animal House. A month and change later, Orion and Warner Bros.’ Caddyshack would endure a similar fate: harsh reviews; underwhelming box office; disappointed financiers. Instead, it was Airplane!, the little movie that no one was tracking and fewer saw coming, that became an immediate sleeper sensation the moment it hit theaters on July 2, 1980.
    Airplane! would earn back its modest $3.5 million budget in its first five days in wide release. And as the summer of 1980 went on, it snowballed into a word-of-mouth hit, eventually pulling in $83 million domestically and ultimately becoming the fourth-highest grossing movie of the year behind only The Empire Strikes Back, 9 to 5, and the Richard Pryor-Gene Wilder ex-con caper Stir Crazy. It also became the unlikeliest of awards contenders. Not with the Oscars, maybe. But the Writers Guild of America would give Abrahams and the Zucker brothers its Best Adapted Comedy honor. Why adapted? Well, the ZAZ boys had lifted so much from Zero Hour! (down to the exclamation point in its title!) that even the most original movie of the year couldn’t lay claim to complete originality.

    Forty years later, Airplane! now resides in some very classy company on the Library of Congress Film Registry. Something that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone who can quote large stretches of the film’s indelible dialogue. It also manages to hold up amazingly well—certainly a lot better than most comedies from the Carter and Reagan era. The reason for that longevity may be because, aside from still being ridiculously funny, it’s the rare Hollywood comedy that doesn’t rely on quickly-dated pop culture references for its humor. It’s both of its time and of no time. More than anything, it’s a satire of a certain style of acting—a wooden earnestness that will always come with a bullseye pinned on its back. After all, as long as there are actors—whether they’re A-list stars or bit players—who take themselves too seriously, puncturing and deflating them will never go out of style. Like Airplane! itself, it’s timeless.
    TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

  • #2
    Who can forget the radial engine sounds from a jet?

    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"


    • #3
      Teen Wolf with Michael J. Fox. This was a surprise hit it only produced at about a $1 million budget but grossed 80 times its initial budget.
      Long live the Lionheart! Please watch this video
      Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.

      George S Patton


      • #4
        Originally posted by G David Bock View Post
        There are a few others that might go here, "Star Wars" could be one that comes to many minds.
        IIRC, Star Wars was not expected to do well, so the studio execs allowed George Lucas to retain all the merchandise rights to the movie.
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