Ghosts of Box Office Past: Mobsters, Best Friends, And A Lot Of Nicolas Cage

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 the little-mentioned 2012 film released just eight years ago. 2012 made nearly 800 million dollars and effectively vanished off the face of the earth.

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 released in June.

The Untouchables

untouchables-box office-June


The Star
Officially, Kevin Costner is the headliner here, but The Untouchables is a star-studded affair. Sean Connery, Andy Garcia, and Robert DeNiro are all key players in this crime film. Connery was already a big name, as was DeNiro, while Costner was entering a streak of hits that arguably ended with Waterworld.

The Film
The Untouchables was a crime drama based on the life of Elliot Ness and his crusade to take down notorious Chicago mobster Al Capone. At the helm of the project was storied director Brian DePalma who was in top form. The mix of star-power, director, and acclaimed writer David Mamet produced a masterpiece of the genre.

The Untouchables was a throwback, old-school gangster film. But DePalma melded the classic vibe with slick visuals from a master of the craft. Mamet’s script was more than just a violent, action film. There is a dense, well-paced narrative that Sean Connery turned into a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, even while his Irish accent is borderline comical.

My Best Friend’s Wedding

julia roberts-wedding-movie

The Star
I know what you’re thinking, a romantic comedy leading the box office? It’s rare these days, but in used to happen pretty often. Having Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz doesn’t hurt a movie either. Roberts was cranking out hit after hit around this time of her career, so My Best Friend’s Wedding was destined for success.

The Film
My Best Friend’s Wedding is one of those films that randomly plays all the time. It’s lighthearted fun for the rom-com crowd. The story centers around Roberts and her best friend who agreed to marry if they were both single by the age of 28. Roberts then learns that her best friend is marrying a mega-hot 20-something played by Cameron Diaz. Wackiness ensues.

HONORABLE MENTION: My Best Friend’s Wedding went on to make more than two cult classic action films Face/Off and Con Air or Schumacher’s much-maligned Batman and Robin.

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

nicholas cage-national treasure-movie

The Star
Believe it or not, at one point in time Nicolas Cage had a string of action hits. It started with Face/Off, then Con-Air (in the same month!) and maybe ended here, 10 years later, with a sequel to National Treasure. Book of Secrets was the second film in the watered-down Indiana Jones series. Cage is his typical off-kilter self. Cage was so Cage-y that earned himself a Worst Actor at the Razzies.

The Film
The original film wasn’t great, but it was fun. Director John Turtletaub returned for the sequel which isn’t great either — or much fun. Legendary critic Roger Ebert once said of the original “So silly that the Monty Python version could use the same screenplay, line for line.” So, you can only imagine how great Book of Secrets was.

As an action flick, it’s not bad. Produced by veteran action movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the film has moments where money is well spent. However, that script and the execution of it leave a lot on the table.

In June 2017 I predict …
When it comes to box office dominance in June of 2017, there are four contenders. Wonder Woman has super-hype going for it, and superhero movies tend to do really (REALLY) well at the box office these days, no matter the quality. Cars 3 will earn plenty too. The question is, how will The Mummy with Tom Cruise and the fifth Transformers movies do? I predict, in the end, Wonder Woman will be the biggest movie released this month.

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.