So with the summer movie season well under way, I’ve decided to go back to the time when I was still in my teens and looking forward to every summer season because not only I had the entire summer off from school, but also the big summer films Hollywood has to offer. I used to love watching Entertainment Tonight because they would always show the upcoming trailers of summer flicks; the internet was still new so you can’t watch movie trailers online yet.
I’m going to list big the films from the summer seasons of 1990 to 1996; I was still in my teens in those years and went to see a lot of movies in theater. And I’ll name my favorite films from that Summer, too. If you’re the same age as me and love films, then you might remember what went on during those hot Summer seasons.
1. Summer of 1990:
The notable big films were Days of Thunder, Dick Tracy, Die Hard 2, Robocop 2, Ghost, Fire Birds, Back to the Future Part 3, Total Recall, Another 48 Hrs., Gremlins 2, Presumed Innocent and Air America. Around this time I was too young to get into R rated films so I didn’t see Die Hard 2, Robocop 2, Total Recall and Air America until they came out on VHS. A lot of people probably don’t remember but the summer of 1990 was the summer of Disney vs. Paramount. Disney has Dick Tracy and Paramount has Days of Thunder and the marketing for both films were huge! I remember I went to McDonald’s that summer and all I could see was Dick Tracy related items and Burger King was pimping Days of Thunder.
Jerry Bruckheimer didn’t have nice things to say about Disney and their big film Dick Tracy (This was a few years before Bruckheimer signed with Disney), so the battle was on. The results? Well the two films didn’t earn that much at all compare to the other films, in fact no one saw it coming that Ghost ended up being the biggest hit of the season. My favorites were Die Hard 2, Total Recall, Another 48 Hrs. and Back to the Future Part 3. Robocop 2 and Days of Thunder were quite disappointing to me.
2. Summer of 1991:
The big guns were Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Rocketeer, Backdraft, Point Break, Mobsters, Doc Hollywood and Child’s Play 3. I don’t remember why but the summer of 1991 offerings were pretty weak, maybe because a lot of studios were afraid of T-2 and they were right because it’s the biggest hit of the summer and the year. It’s also the first film to actually have cost over $100 mil to make and it set the standards for special effects in films. I actually saw the film on the big 70mm screen and I was blown away by it. The picture and sound were pretty spectacular.
My favorite from the list was Point Break, I fell asleep watching Backdraft, while Robin Hood with Kevin Costner was okay. The only other film I saw in theater that summer was The Rocketeer, I don’t remember much about it though, and I might have to give it a rent soon.
3. Summer of 1992:
The big films were Lethal Weapon 3, Alien 3, Batman Returns, Far and Away, Sister Act, Patriot Games, Iron Eagle 3, A League of Their Own, Cool World, Prelude to a Kiss, Universal Soldier, Unforgiven, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Death Becomes Her, Mo’ Money, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery and Single White Female. I called this the summer of sequels and Lethal Weapon 3, Batman Returns and Patriot Games were big winners.
Alien 3 on the other hand was the biggest bombs of the year, it was plague with bad behind the scenes rumors and it was way over budget. Another big bomb of that summer was Far and Away, Ron Howard’s attempt to imitate David Lean’s film was met with bad reviews and audiences didn’t care to see Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman on the big screen. Howard even shot the film with Panavision Super 70, the highest quality in film, very similar to Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia and Ryan’s Daughter. My favorites were Lethal Weapon 3, Batman Returns, Patriot Games and Unforgiven (it’s probably my favorite western film ever).
4. Summer of 1993:
Hollywood offered us Hot Shots! Part Deux, Super Mario Bros., Jurassic Park, Cliffhanger, Last Action Hero, The Fugitive, Hard Target, Free Willy, Rising Sun, Another Stakeout, Coneheads, and In the Line of Fire. This summer was billed as Arnold vs. Sly since each of them had a summer flick, Stallone has been doing comedies for a few years and Arnold didn’t have a summer movie in 1992. So when it was announced that Cliffhanger would open in May and Last Action Hero in June, many predicted that both films would earn hundreds of millions of dollars.
Boy were they wrong, Cliffhanger ended up making around $80mil while Last Action Hero became one of the biggest box office misfires of the decade, ouch! The summer actually belonged to the dinosaurs and Harrison Ford. Jurassic Park became the biggest hit of the summer/year and The Fugitive was right behind it. My favorites were Jurassic Park, The Fugitive, Cliffhanger, Hard Target, In the Line of Fire and Rising Sun.
5. Summer of 1994:
The summer kicked off with Maverick then Beverly Hills Cop 3, The Flintstones, The Cowboy Way, Speed, City Slickers 2, Wolf, Wyatt Earp, The Lion King, Forrest Gump, True Lies, The Client, The Shadow, The Mask, Natural Born Killers and Clear and Present Danger. So this was the first summer ever that has two films earned over $300 mil at the box office, Forrest Gump and The Lion King. Also, it was a reunion for Arnold and James Cameron, their film True Lies was the priciest of the year costing at around $120mil to make. Even though this was a huge summer for films, somehow I don’t remember much about it. I think I only saw 4 films in theater that summer; True Lies, Speed, Clear & Present Danger and Forrest Gump and I enjoyed all of them. The rest were pretty forgettable with the exception of The Lion King which I didn’t see until it came out on video and I really enjoyed it.
6. Summer of 1995:
The theaters were filled with big films such as Crimson Tide, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Braveheart, Casper, Congo, The Bridges of Madison County, Batman Forever, Pocahontas, Apollo 13, Judge Dredd, First Knight, Species, Under Siege 2, Clueless, Free Willy 2, The Net, Waterworld, Babe, Dangerous Minds and Mortal Kombat. 1995 was a pretty weak year in films and the summer season offerings weren’t that impressive either.
The summer kicked off with Crimson Tide (Jerry Bruckheimer’s first big budget film with Disney after he and his business partner Don Simpson left Paramount). I went to see it with a friend and we loved it and thought this could be a great summer for films. Boy was I wrong, the next movie I went to see was Die Hard 3 and even though I enjoyed it, I was still quite disappointed with the movie. Then I saw Congo and wow that was bad, Batman Forever and Judged Dredd were also quite bad. In July I saw Under Siege 2 and Waterworld, I was surprised how much I enjoyed both films but by no means they were great or even good films.
At the time, Waterworld was the most expensive movie ever, cost around $175mil to produce. The last summer movie I saw in theater was Mortal Kombat and I really enjoyed that one. I didn’t get to see Braveheart in theater until it won all those Oscars and they decided to re-release it back in theaters in the spring of 1996. My favorites were Braveheart, Crimson Tide and Mortal Kombat.
7. Summer of 1996:
Hollywood gave us Twister, Mission: Impossible, Dragonheart, The Rock, The Cable Guy, Eraser, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Striptease, The Nutty Professor, Independence Day (ID4), Phenomenon, Courage Under Fire, The Frighteners, A Time to Kill, Chain Reaction, Escape from L.A., Tin Cup and Island of Dr. Moreau. I remember this summer well because I graduated from high school that May and also it was the summer of films filled with CGI. Also, this was the year where most movie theaters in America updated to digital sound. I think I’ve seen most of the films on the list in theater that summer.
My favorites were Mission: Impossible, The Rock, Eraser, ID4 and Twister. Now I’m not saying these were great or even good films, but they were quite entertaining, especially if you saw them at a theater that has digital sound. I thought I was gonna go deaf after I saw The Rock at the revamped theater close to where I used to live.
Well those are my memories of summer films during my teen years, what about you? Feel free to share your memories of summer flicks; I would love to hear from someone who grew up in the 70s since I believe that decade had so many great films.