1980s in film

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The decade of the 1980s in Western cinema saw the return of studio-driven pictures, coming from the filmmaker-driven New Hollywood era of the 1970s.[1] The period was when "high concept" films gained popularity, where movies were to be easily marketable and understandable, and, therefore, they had short cinematic plots that could be summarized in one or two sentences. The modern Hollywood blockbuster is the most popular film format from the 1980s. Producer Don Simpson[2] is usually credited with the creation of the high-concept picture of the modern Hollywood blockbuster.

The decade also saw an increased amount of nudity in film and the increasing emphasis in the American industry on film franchises, especially in the science fiction, horror and action genres. Much of the reliance on these effect-driven blockbusters was due in part to the Star Wars films at the advent of this decade and the new cinematic effects it helped to pioneer. The teen comedy subgenre also rose in popularity during this decade.

In the US, the PG-13 rating was introduced in 1984 to accommodate films that straddled the line between PG and R, which was mainly due to the controversies surrounding the violent content of the PG films Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Gremlins (both 1984).[3]

Some have considered the 1980s in retrospect as one of the weaker decades for American cinema in terms of the qualities of the films released. Quentin Tarantino (director of Pulp Fiction) has voiced his own view that the 1980s was one of the worst eras for American films.[4] Film critic Kent Jones also shares this opinion.[5] However, film theorist David Bordwell countered this notion, saying that the "megapicture mentality" was already existent in the 1970s, which is evident in the ten highest-grossing films of that decade, as well as with how many of the filmmakers part of New Hollywood were still able to direct many great pictures in the 1980s (Martin Scorsese, Brian de Palma, etc.).[6]

Top-grossing films[edit]

The following are the 10 top-grossing films of the decade:[7]

  1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), $435 million
  2. Return of the Jedi (1983), $309 million
  3. The Empire Strikes Back (1980), $290 million
  4. Batman (1989), $251 million
  5. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), $245 million
  6. Ghostbusters (1984), $238 million
  7. Beverly Hills Cop (1984), $234 million
  8. Back to the Future (1985), $210 million
  9. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), $197 million
  10. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), $179 million

Highest-grossing films[edit]

List of worldwide highest-grossing films
Rank Title Studios Worldwide gross Year Ref.
1 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Paramount $474,171,806 1989
[8]
2 Batman Warner Bros. $411,348,924 1989
[8]
3 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Universal Pictures $359,197,037 1982
[9]
4 Rain Man MGM $354,825,435 1988
[10]
5 Back to the Future Part II Universal $331,950,002 1989
[8]
6 Who Framed Roger Rabbit Touchstone Pictures $329,803,958 1988
[10]
7 Look Who's Talking TriStar $296,999,813 1989
[8]
8 Coming to America Paramount $288,752,301 1988
[10]
9 Return of the Jedi 20th Century Fox $252,583,617 1983
[11]
10 Crocodile Dundee II Paramount $239,606,210 1988
[10]
11 Dead Poets Society Touchstone Pictures $235,860,116 1989
[8]
12 Beverly Hills Cop Paramount Pictures $234,760,478 1984
[12]
13 Ghostbusters Columbia Pictures $229,242,989 1984
[12]
14 Lethal Weapon 2 Warner Bros. $227,853,986 1989
[8]
15 Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Disney $222,724,172 1989
[8]
16 Twins Universal $216,614,388 1988
[10]
17 Ghostbusters II Columbia $215,394,738 1989
[8]
18 Raiders of the Lost Ark Paramount Pictures $212,222,025 1981
[13]
19 Back to the Future Universal Pictures $210,609,762 1985
[14]
20 The Empire Strikes Back 20th Century Fox $209,398,025 1980
[15]
21 Rambo III Carolco $189,015,611 1988
[10]
22 The Little Mermaid Disney $184,155,863 1989
[8]
23 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Paramount Pictures $179,870,271 1984
[12]
24 A Fish Called Wanda MGM $177,889,000 1988
[10]
25 Tootsie Columbia Pictures $177,200,000 1982
[9]
26 Top Gun Paramount Pictures $176,781,728 1986
[16]
27 Crocodile Dundee Paramount Pictures $174,803,506 1986
[16]
28 Cocktail Buena Vista/Touchstone Pictures $171,504,781 1988
[10]
29 Three Men and a Baby Buena Vista/Touchstone Pictures $167,780,960 1987
[17]
30 Fatal Attraction Paramount Pictures $156,645,693 1987
[17]
31 Beverly Hills Cop II Paramount Pictures $153,665,036 1987
[17]
32 Gremlins Warner Bros. $153,083,102 1984
[12]
33 Born on the Fourth of July Universal $161,001,698 1989
[8]
34 Big 20th Century Fox $151,668,774 1988
[10]
35 Rambo: First Blood Part II Carolco Pictures $150,415,432 1985
[14]
36 Die Hard 20th Century Fox $140,767,956 1988
[10]
37 The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! Paramount $140,000,000 1988
[10]
38 Platoon Orion Pictures $138,530,565 1986
[16]
39 An Officer and a Gentleman Paramount Pictures $129,795,554 1982
[9]
40 Rocky IV Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $127,873,716 1985
[14]
41 Rocky III Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer $124,146,897 1982
[9]
42 Good Morning, Vietnam Buena Vista/Touchstone Pictures $123,922,370 1987
[17]
43 On Golden Pond Universal Pictures $119,285,432 1981
[13]
44 The Karate Kid Part II Columbia Pictures $115,103,979 1986
[16]
45 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Paramount Pictures $109,713,132 1986
[16]
46 Terms of Endearment Paramount Pictures $108,423,489 1983
[11]
47 Superman II Warner Bros. $108,185,706 1981
[13]
48 Porky's 20th Century Fox $105,492,483 1982
[9]
49 9 to 5 20th Century Fox $103,290,500 1980
[15]
50 Stir Crazy Columbia Pictures $101,300,000 1980
[15]


In the list, where revenues are equal numbers, the newer films are listed lower, due to inflation making the dollar-amount lower compared to earlier years.

Trends[edit]

The films of the 1980s covered many genres, with hybrids crossing between multiple genres. The trend strengthened towards creating ever-larger blockbuster films, which earned more in their opening weeks than any previous film, due in part to staging releases when audiences had little else to choose.

Lists of films[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ebert, Roger; Bordwell, David (2008). Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert (Paperback ed.). Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press. p. xvii. ISBN 978-0226182018. Retrieved 26 February 2016. In his pluralism, [Roger] Ebert proved a more authentic cinephile than many of his contemporaries. They tied their fortunes to the Film Brats and then suffered the inevitable disappointments of the 1980s return to studio-driven pictures.
  2. ^ Fleming, Charles (1998). High concept: Don Simpson and the Hollywood culture of excess. Doubleday. ISBN 978-0-385-48694-1.
  3. ^ Breznican, Anthony (August 24, 2004). "PG-13 remade Hollywood ratings system". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved June 27, 2016.
  4. ^ Shamsian, Jacob (24 August 2015). "Here's why Quentin Tarantino isn't worried about the influx of franchise films". Business Insider. Retrieved 27 June 2016. Back in the ’80s, when movies sucked—I saw more movies then than I’d ever seen in my life, and the Hollywood bottom-line product was the worst it had been since the ’50s—that would have been a great time [for Superhero films].
  5. ^ Jones, Kent (2004). "The Last Great American Picture Show: New Hollywood Cinema in the 1970s: "The Cylinders Were Whispering My Name"". Google Books. Amsterdam University Press. Retrieved 27 June 2016. This was the beginning of the 1980s, the worst decade ever for American movies...
  6. ^ Bordwell, David (20 November 2008). "Observations on film art : It's the 80s, stupid". David Bordwell's website on cinema. David Bordwell & Kristin Thompson. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  7. ^ "All-Time Top Box Office Films". filmsite.org. Archived from the original on 21 November 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "1989 Worldwide Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  9. ^ a b c d e "1982 Worldwide Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "1988 Worldwide Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  11. ^ a b "1983 Worldwide Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  12. ^ a b c d "1984 Worldwide Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  13. ^ a b c "1981 Worldwide Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  14. ^ a b c "1985 Worldwide Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  15. ^ a b c "1980 Worldwide Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  16. ^ a b c d e "1986 Worldwide Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  17. ^ a b c d "1987 Worldwide Gross". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  18. ^ "Tango & Cash - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved 2011-07-24.