Summer Blockbusters 1999

Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 10:08 am

It’s time to once again take a look at summer blockbusters from the past. This time around, our focus will be concentrated on summer blockbusters 1999, the biggest year for movies during that decade. In fact, 40 movies from 1999 have surpassed the $100 million mark (blockbuster), and another six have grossed more than $400 million (international blockbuster motion picture). 1999 was also the first year in history that five films went on to achieve international blockbuster status. Speaking of the international box office, only one movie managed to pass the $900 million mark: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. That was good enough to vault it onto the list of the top 10 highest-grossing films of all time. Thanks for nothing, George Lucas.

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As a service for some of our younger or more forgetful readers, let’s take a quick refresher course on 1999. Here are a few of the major events you might have forgotten:

brandi-chastain– The Melissa worm wreaks havoc on the Internet.
– Everyone prepares for Y2K and an impending disaster which never comes.
– Dr. Jack Kevorkian is found guilty of second-degree murder.
– The Columbine High School massacre takes place in Littleton, Colorado.
– Napster makes its debut.
– Texas Governor George W. Bush announces he will run for President of the United States.
– The U.S. women’s team wins the FIFA Women’s World Cup thanks to the winning kick by Brandi Chastain. Her post-kick celebration becomes one of the most well-known in history.
– John F. Kennedy Jr. dies in a plane crash off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.
– Lance Armstrong wins his first Tour de France.

Here are the Academy Award winners for 1999:

– Best Picture: American Beauty
– Best Director: Sam Mendes – American Beauty
– Best Actor: Kevin Spacey – American Beauty
– Best Actress: Hilary Swank – Boys Don’t Cry
– Best Supporting Actor: Michael Caine – The Cider House Rules
– Best Supporting Actress: Angelina Jolie – Girl, Interrupted
– Best Foreign Language Film: All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre), directed by Pedro Almodóvar, Spain / France

And a few film-related deaths to mull over:

deforest-kelley1Gene Siskel – 53 – film critic
Stanley Kubrick– 70 – director
Oliver Reed – 61 – actor
DeForest Kelley – 79 – actor
George C. Scott – 71 – actor
Madeline Kahn – 57 – actress

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move ahead and look at the summer blockbusters 1999. Be sure to drop in and voice your opinion on these films in our comments section, or you can head over to our movie forum and start a whole new thread on the subject.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace – Yes, it sucked. And, yes, we all went to see it, shelling our money over to George Lucas like good little lemmings. What did we get in return? An annoying kid, way too many racial stereotypes, and dialogue that sounded like it had been put together using Mad Libs. And who can forget Jar Jar Binks, the most hated movie character of all time? Now that’s an accomplishment.


The Sixth Sense – Bruce Willis plays a shrink dedicated to helping little Haley Joel Osment learn to deal with his ability to see dead people. The twist at the film’s climax scored big with viewers, and it allowed director M. Night Shyamalan to drive us all nuts in the future with his inability to write a decent ending.

mini-meAustin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me – This time around Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) goes back in time to steal the mojo of his nemesis, Austin Powers (also Mike Myers). Heather Graham stars as a sexy spy who gets down and dirty with the disgusting Fat Bastard (Mike Myers yet again) in order to fulfill her mission, and Mini-Me (Verne Troyer) makes his memorable debut. In a nod to Moonraker, a groovy moon base is also thrown into the mix for good measure. Cameos include Jerry Springer, Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson, Elvis Costello, and Rebecca Romijn.

Tarzan – Another animated homerun from Walt Disney, Tarzan tells the classic tale of an orphaned boy raised in the jungle by gorillas. Celebrity voices abound, including Minnie Driver, Glenn Close, Rosie O’Donnell, Wayne Knight, and the always-badass Lance Henriksen.

Big Daddy – Adam Sandler plays a man-child tasked with taking care of his roommate’s illegitimate son. The two bond, of course, but those dirty bastards from Child Protective Services threaten to spoil the whole thing. In the meantime, Sandler teaches the tyke to urinate on walls and ambush skaters in the part. Rob Schneider makes his 457th appearance in an Adam Sandler movie.

The Mummy – A rollicking adventure starring Brendan Fraser as an American soldier and adventurer who joins the quest of a plucky librarian (Rachel Weisz) to find a lost Egyptian city. Along the way, they encounter treasure-hunting Americans and fierce tribal warriors, all trying to interfere with their quest in one way or another. And when they reach the city, they’ll still have to survive a showdown with the undead Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo) and his legion of mummies and flesh-eating scarabs.

Runaway Bride – Julia Roberts flashes her massive grin as Maggie Carpenter, a woman with a habit of leaving men at the altar, thus earning the name “The Runaway Bride.” Richard Gere plays the reporter who starts out looking for a story but slowly falls for the reluctant bride. Hector Elizondo also puts in an appearance, thereby reuniting three of the Pretty Woman cast members. Here’s an odd bit of trivia: Christopher Walken was once considered for the part that eventually went to Gere. I would’ve definitely shelled out money to see a romance between Julia Roberts and Walken (although it’s not as big a stretch as Lyle Lovett).

blair-witchThe Blair Witch Project – Three young filmmakers hike into the woods of Maryland and never return. Their gear is found a year later, and the film is supposed to be comprised of the remaining audio and video recordings. A fine example of independent filmmaking, it’s even more impressive when you consider that The Blair Witch Project cost less than $1 million to make. It also demonstrated the ability of the Internet to successfully market a film.

Notting Hill – William Thacker (Hugh Grant), a bookstore owner in London, has a chance meeting with famous American actress Anna Scott (Julia Roberts), and a romance begins to bloom. Alec Baldwin puts in an uncredited cameo, and Rhys Ifans is a scream as Spike, the way-out-there roommate of Thacker. The happy ending is never in doubt.

Wild Wild West – Will Smith and Kevin Kline star in this absolute nightmare of a film. Based on the television series with a strong cult following, Wild Wild West ditches all the charm of the original in favor of crappy CGI effects and Kenneth Branagh in a steampunk wheelchair. The only redeeming qualities were an appearance by Musetta Vander, Salma Hayek’s bare ass, and that damned title song by Smith.

The General’s Daughter – I wouldn’t have expected to see this one on a summer blockbusters 1999 list. In fact, I’d forgotten that it even existed. When a general’s daughter is found murdered, it’s up to John Travolta to get to the bottom of things. It doesn’t even matter what character he’s playing; you just know Travolta will get things squared away. The film does boast an excellent cast, including Medeleine Stowe, James Cromwell, Timothy Hutton, and James Woods. Based on a 1992 novel by Nelson DeMille.

American Pie – One of the films responsible for reviving the teen sex comedy genre. It has its moments, sure, but ultimately it’s not nearly as funny as its success would suggest. Still, it has kept Eugene Levy in work for years, so I guess I can cut it a little slack. And Shannon Elizabeth still looks great in her scenes (years before she started specializing in poker-related movies).

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