Ahead of Barbenheimer, These Movies Battled it out in Theaters For Opening Weekends
This weekend is a big one for movie fans! Not only is the highly-anticipated film Barbie coming out, but also the film Oppenheimer and Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One is still brand-new. Some fans are planning to watch two or three of the films in a row in the movie theater, mapping out their entire weekend day full of new cinema. This begs the question, when has this happened before and which movie will ultimately come out on top at the box office?
Let’s go all the way back to December 26, 1973. It was the day after Christmas and The Exorcist was battling The Sting. It came down to choice, whether you were a horror movie fan or love a comedy/crime drama. Though they were as different as can be, they both did quite well and earned 10 Oscar nominations each, with The Sting earning seven of those awards, including Best Picture. Even though The Sting won more awards, overall The Exorcist did better at the box office earning over $441 million worldwide while The Sting got $156 million.
On Memorial Day in 1977, two more films went head to head. Smokey And The Bandit, starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field, battled it out against Star Wars. While Star Wars has become a huge success and is now one of the most beloved franchises of all time, Smokey And The Bandit did better at the box office earning $1.7 million to Star Wars‘ $1.55 million that weekend.
Now onto two films that have become cult classics: Raising Arizona vs. Evil Dead II. It is interesting to see a comedy against a horror movie sequel and perhaps it is no surprise that the sequel didn’t fare as well during its opening weekend starting March 13, 1987. Even though the movies were pitted against each other, they have a friendly backstory as the directors of Raising Arizona, the Coen Brothers, were friends with Evil Dead II director Sam Raimi and they actually helped each other on other films. A little friendly competition!
About a year later on July 15, 1988, Bruce Willis‘ Die Hard competed against an R-rated comedy A Fish Called Wanda. Die Hard helped Willis become a huge action star while A Fish Called Wanda featured a huge cast including Jamie Lee Curtis and John Cleese. Both movies have done well but considering they both opened with a limited release, their opening weekends weren’t too fruitful. Overall, Die Hard did a little better though.
On June 23, 1989, fans had two incredible movies to choose from. Batman, starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson swooped into theaters along with Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. Batman did a lot better, perhaps because the action hero and his story are so well-known, but Honey, I Shrunk The Kids remains one of those great old-school Disney movies, starring Rick Moranis as a scientist dad who accidentally shrinks his children.
The adult thriller Heat battled it out with Jumanji on December 15, 1995. Even though Heat had some big names attached to it including Robert De Niro, Val Kilmer, and Al Pacino, ultimately, Robin Williams‘ Jumanji won this one gaining $11 million, while Heat got $8.4 million the first weekend.
In honor of the latest Mission: Impossible movie, let’s return to a time when the very first film came out on May 22, 1996, against the James Bond spoof Spy Hard starring Leslie Nielsen. This one is interesting because Spy Hard actually came in third this weekend. Mission: Impossible was the one to beat and Twister, in its third week of release, became the second highest-grossing film of the weekend. Did any of these winners of their opening weekends surprise you? Are you going to see any of the new films this weekend? Let us know!