1999 Domestic Box Office Review - Mania.com

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1999 Domestic Box Office Review

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Ruled the Year.

By Steve Biodrowski     January 06, 2000
Source: Daily Variety

1999 was a year in which science fiction, fantasy, and horror films dominated the domestic box office like never before: eight of the Top Ten positions were occupied by genre efforts, including all of the Top Five; of those Top Five, four broke the magic $200-million dollar barrierthe only films to do so during the year.

In one sense, this success is not too surprising; after all, science fiction has guaranteed boffo business for most of the decade. What was surprising, on the other hand, was the resurgence of horror as a viable genre. After years of being relegated mostly to direct-to-video companies (with only occasional hits like INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE), the horror film rebounded with a handful of blockbusters in a single year. Interestingly, despite the success, no clear trend emerged, as the films tended to be very different from each other, ranging from the low-budget effectiveness of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT to the effects-heavy overkill of THE HAUNTING, from the tongue-in-cheek adventure of THE MUMMY to the nostalgic spookiness of SLEEPY HOLLOW. And of course, all of them were topped by the convincing drama and spirituality of THE SIXTH SENSE.

Another interesting facet of this year's box office hits is that many of them were actually good, innovative movies. Sure, there were franchise sequels that succeed more on marketing and merchandising than merit (the latest STAR WARS and AUSTIN POWERS, for example), but there were also numerous sleeper hits and other surprise successes. Not surprisingly, Fox's STAR WARS, EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE took the Number One position, with a gross of $430.4-million, but this was the year that also brought us TOY STORY 2, a sequel that actually exceeded the original. Additionally, we got THE MATRIX, a film that sounded like a prescription for a bad Hollywood big-budget movie (loaded with guns, explosions, special effects), but which instead wowed both critics and audiences. Beyond that, this was the year in which BLAIR WITCH, a low-budget art house hit, broke out of its niche to become a certified blockbuster. And just when it looked as if that film would be the defining horror phenomenon for 1999, an under-promoted studio effort by the name of THE SIXTH SENSE came along and surpassed it. Altogether, it was a year that proved, beyond lingering doubt, that science fiction, fantasy, and horror is not confined to some kind of cult niche market but instead lies at the heart of what truly great mainstream cinema has to offer.

Listed below are genre films that ended up among the year's Top Twenty Box Office Winners, with totals given in millions of dollars. The numerical rankings are according to how much each film earned in the year 1999; total earnings for films whose release extended into the year 2000 are indicated in parenthesis.

1.Phantom Menace (Fox) 430.4 (460.998)*
2.The Sixth Sense (Buena Vista) 275.7 (293.506)*
3.Toy Story 2 (Buena Vista) 208.6 (245.852)*
4.Austin Powers 2 (New Line) 206.04
5.The Matrix (WB) 171.1
6.Tarzan (Buena Vista) 170.8
8.The Mummy (Universal) 155.4
10.The Blair Witch Project (Artisan) 140.5
11.The World Is Not Enough (MGM) 117.9 (126.931)*
14.Wild, Wild West (WB) 113.8
18. Inspector Gadget (Buena Vista) 97.404
20. Sleepy Hollow (Paramount) 92.8 (101.071)*

The year's remaining genre films are listed below:

The Haunting - 91.2
Pokemon: The First Movie - 84.1
Stuart Little - 79.4 (140.015)*
The Green Mile - 76.7 (136.801)*
Deep Blue Sea - 73.6
American Beauty - 71 (130.096)*
The Bone Collector - 63.7*
End of Days - 63.2
South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut - 52.0
Stigmata - 50.0
House on Haunted Hill - 40.5
Bicentennial Man - 39.3 (58.223)*
My Favorite Martian - 36.9
8MM - 36.6
Fight Club - 36.4
The 13th Warrior - 32.7
Lake Placid - 31.8
Mystery Men - 29.8
Galaxy Quest - 27.3 (71.580)*
Baby Geniuses - 27.2
T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous - 27.2**
The Iron Giant - 23.2
Doug's First Movie -19.4
The Rage Carrie 2 - 17.8
Muppets From Space - 16.6
Bringing Out The Dead - 16.5
Virus - 14.1
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc - 14.0*
In Dreams - 12
The Thirteenth Floor - 11.9
The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland - 11.6
Wing Commander - 11.6
Chill Factor - 11.3
The Astronaut's Wife - 10.7
Universal Soldier: The Return - 10.6
Teaching Mrs. Tingle - 9.0
Twin Dragons - 8.4
Idle Hands - 4.1
Existenz - 2.7
Princess Mononoke - 2.4*
Siegfried and Roy: The Magic Box 2.2
Ravenous - 2.1
Virtual Sexuality 0.7

*Indicates a film still in release at year's end, which could have increased its total in 2000.

**Actually opened in 1998 but did most of its business in 1999.


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