Summer Blockbusters of 1989


Every summer, the season is always jammed packed with big hit over hyped blockbuster movies coming out at a theater near you. Nowadays, there’s about at least 8 or 10 or more, big movies that get released from May to August. Most are sequels, remakes, or adaptations to a comic, book, or TV show. It has become an anticipative event to wait for all these mega movies to come out and make it almost a family outing to go see as many summer blockbusters as you can through out those four months.

Years ago there was a time where the studios didn’t pump out a number of hyped movies for the summer. Of course, summer blockbusters have been around for a very long time, going back to the 70’s with Jaws and Star Wars, but during those years you would only see one or two big hyped film to come out. As a kid, I remember in the early 80’s the only big movies to come out for the summer was sequels to Star Wars and Indiana Jones and that was it for the summer. Like I said, just one or two movies, that was all. Each summer through out the decade of the 80’s, they did add on a few more big movies, but it wasn’t until the last summer of the 1980’s where the formula for the multi-blockbusters was born.

Twenty years ago, back in the summer of 1989, I was 16 years old and movies were my thing. I use to go to the movies about every week with my best friend, Craig. We saw all the new releases. That summer saw a ton of big movies and would become the standard for summers to come. Most of the films that summer were sequels and adaptations. The biggest that summer was the movie adaptation to the comic, Batman. The movie was a huge success at the box office, breaking records and ranking in millions. For me that was the film I was waiting to see that summer. For months I read about the film, at first when they said they cast Michael Keaton as Batman, I wasn’t sure he could pull it off. I did enjoy his work as an actor, but he played mostly comedic roles. Boy, was I wrong. Keaton did a great job and is the best Batman in that series. Also, who would forget Jack Nicholson as The Joker, he was awesome in the role. Only to be topped almost twenty years later by the late Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.

What made this summer different from past ones was all the hype surrounding a number of movies and that they were so many coming out at one time. Now, all these movies that were hyped were not all successful, but were still hyped up at being the next big movie of the summer. Although, Batman was the big hit of the summer, it wasn’t the only hit that came out that year. Another movie I couldn’t wait to see was the third installment of the Indiana Jones series, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The movie came out a few weeks before Batman and did almost as well. For me, I enjoyed Last Crusade, but thought it wasn’t as good as the first two, but still a good film. This was not the only sequel to grace the screen that summer. Lethal Weapon 2 was another highly anticipative movie for the summer. The first one was a sleeper hit back in 1987. I remember seeing the first one on cable or video a year after it came out, so when part two was about to be released, I went to see it on the first day. Back then my friends and I had to see the movie on opening day, I just had to. I did that for about a good six or seven years. Friday was always the best night for movies, especially in the summer.

Other sequels that year weren’t as good for me as others. Ghostbusters II being one. I enjoyed the first one and hoped the sequel would be good, but I had my doubts. It was a disappointment and very forgettable. The original I’ve watched many times through out the years, the sequel I think I only seen twice. Horror was hot that summer as well and Freddy and Jason were slashing and hacking up the screen. That year A Nightmare on Elm St. 5: The Dream Child and Friday the 13th part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan came out. I was a huge Elm St. and Friday fan back then and still am. I couldn’t wait for these two films even though I knew they weren’t going to be good as the first couple films in the series of each. Both films were disappointing, especially Jason Takes Manhattan. Actually at the time I was interested in seeing Jason roaming the streets of New York killing people, but the whole movie took place on a boat. He didn’t get to New York until the end of the movie. I remember sitting through that and wondering when are they going to get to the city. I was so upset on the way that film came out, but the series was going downhill anyway and continued after that. Also, Star Trek V and James Bond’s License to Kill came out with big hype as well but didn’t do well at the box office. I passed on these films when they were playing.

There were also some other films that were advertised all over the place that I passed on as well. Most were family friendly, comedies, action, and even some drama that hit it big at the box office. Disney’s Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was big that year. I remember seeing trailers for that every time I went into a theater that summer. Still till this day I have never seen the film. When Harry Met Sally and Parenthood were the big summer comedies, also Weekend at Bernie’s did well from what I remember, but unlike the others that was kind of a sleeper hit and probably didn’t aspect to do well. Weird Al’s film, UHF came out that summer as well. Didn’t see it in a theater but caught it a year later on video. The film is hilarious. I remember seeing a trailer to that, where it made it look like it was a trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie, but then it turns out to be Weird Al dressed in Indy gear. The rest of the summer hits or misses were The Abyss, Roadhouse, Dead Poets Society, and No Holds Barred starring Hulk Hogan. Wrestling was huge at that time and this was the first big hyped movie with the top wrestling star at the time. The film flopped at the box office. There was also a little film that only played in selected cities that became a sleeper hit of the summer, that film was Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.

After that year, going into the 1990’s, the summer was packed with major films that were being hyped as early as Christmas. Now ever summer has plenty to choose from, whether it’s a sequel, prequel, action, adventure, kids films, comedies, super hero films, horror, sci-fi, TV Shows into movies, you name it. The summer movie season is a big huge event every year and in my opinion started back in the summer of ’89. That was a great summer for films, whether the movies were good or not, it was a great experience.