Ghosts of Box Office Past: Cops, Dinosaurs, And A Spider-Man Walk Into A Theater

One-hundred-plus years of filmmaking provides a long, rich, and deep history to look back on. Retro reviews and analysis of old films are practically necessary full-time specialties. Month after month, films release, vying to make as much money as possible. Some rise, some fall, but regardless of financial success, it’s never a sign of a lasting effect. A great example is Hancock, the 2008 Will Smith film. Hancock made nearly 630 million at the box office and is barely used as a punchline to a joke today.

So, where does that leave past box office champs?
Let’s take a look back ten, twenty, and thirty years ago
at the biggest movies in May.

Beverly Hills Cop II

beverly hills cop-movie-action
Box Office (worldwide): 300 million 

The Star
During the 80s, Eddie Murphy broke onto the celebrity scene. First, it was through Saturday Night Live, then through a series of blockbuster films and comedy specials. Murphy was at the top of his game in 1987 and in May released a sequel to his smash-hit buddy cop action movie.

The Film
The first Beverly Hills Cop had a charm that extended first from its star and was enhanced by Director Martin Brest (Running Scared, Scent of a Woman) and the creative team around Murphy. In the sequel, new Director Tony Scott (Top Gun, Man on Fire) they rinsed and repeated everything in the hopes of catching that same magical charm. Murphy still has it throughout the film, but the creative team less so.


Beverly Hills Cop II is still fun, especially if you like the first one, but ultimately forgettable. However, it still went on to become the third-highest-grossing movie of the year. For Murphy, it was another notch on his championship celebrity belt for the decade. Also, never forgot Beverly Hills Cop II was nominated for an Oscar for best original song — “Shakedown” by Bob Seger.

Jurassic Park: The Lost World

jurassic park-movie-dinosaur
Box Office (worldwide): 618 million

The Star
This one here is debatable. Spielberg is the undeniable super-mega-star. Everyone loves Jeff Goldblum. But the real star of Jurassic Park movies are the dinosaurs. There are plenty more here with Compies and XXX.

The Film
It’s almost unanimous that everyone hates The Lost World. A part of that is that it came after Jurassic Park which was one of those game-changing movies that are near impossible to improve. For Spielberg, it seemed he was in an experimental phase as he moves away from a lot of the lighting he used for many movies before. The Lost World is more reminiscent of Close Enchants of the Third Kind in that sense. The film itself isn’t great, but a T-Rex on the loose in San Diego for the final act makes it a lot of fun.

The original Jurassic Park was not only a blockbuster success but a pop culture shifting piece of cinema. Like Terminator 2, the film pushed the boundaries of CG and movies would never be the same. The Lost World is a steep drop off from the original film, but for cinephiles the subtle changes in Spielberg’s style are interesting. The film also landed in the number three spot on the box office in the same year as James Cameron’s super-blockbuster Titanic.

Spiderman 3

spierman-comic book-movie
Box Office (worldwide): 890 million

The Star
Tobey Maguire was riding high as the king of comic book movies back in 2007. It was one full year before Iron Man would hit and Heath Ledger would blow minds in The Dark Knight. Spider-Man 3 would be Maguire’s last film as Peter Parker and Raimi’s last as director.

The Film
After Raimi’s Spider-Man had broken new ground and Spider-Man 2 presented dazzling effects with a solid story featuring a fantastic villain what hope was there for Part 3? Spider-Man 3 is the least loved of the original Webslinger Trilogy, but Sandman is an excellent villain in a film that has one too many of them. That’s not Raimi’s fault but good ole Sony meddling and forcing Venom on the director who did not grow up with that character or age of Spider-Man.

Spider-Man 3 isn’t all bad; it’s just not Spider-Man 2. The selection of Topher Grace as Eddie Brock was smart from a business point of view. Grace was hot as the star of That 70s Show, but he just didn’t fit the role well. Raimi’s often fun, quirky sense of humor gets a little too crazy with Peter’s dance sequence.

May 2017 Predictions …

May is going to be a busy month for ticket counters. This week is the much-anticipated sequel to Marvel’s beloved Guardians of the Galaxy. The film gets two weeks to demolish all competitors before Alien: Covenant, Baywatch, and a new Pirates of the Caribbean film make their mark. In the end, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 will likely be the undisputed master of May 2017 and one of the top five grossing films of the year.

Ruben Diaz
Ruben Diaz
Writer, film-fanatic, geek, gamer, info junkie & consummate Devil's advocate who has been fascinated by Earth since 1976. Classically trained in the ways of the future.