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Ten Favorite Things About Stranger Things

51 minutes ago | FilmExperience | See recent FilmExperience news »

Kieran, here.  There’s something to be said about earnest storytelling in television.  It often comes packaged in projects that are deeply flawed, but somehow those flaws contribute to what make the show a singular experience. Such is the case with Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” which premiered a week ago to much fanfare and online discussion.

Though “Stranger Things,” created by Matt and Ross Duffer very blatantly poaches elements from some very familiar markers it doesn’t resemble anything else on television at the moment. The aforementioned earnestness of this series about supernatural and…well, stranger things happening in 1983 small town Indiana could have easily served as a liability, but becomes one of the show’s greatest strengths. 

All of my defenses were up going into my viewing of “Stranger Things”. 80s-era Spielberg holds little personal resonance as it does for others. I’ve never seen The Goonies. I have »

- Kieran Scarlett

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'Stranger Things': How Netflix's Retro Hit Resurrects the Eighties

21 July 2016 6:30 AM, PDT | Rollingstone.com | See recent Rolling Stone news »

It's one thing to set a TV series in the 1980s; it's a whole other thing, however, to make it feel like it was actually shot during the Reagan-and-Rubik's-Cube era. Matt and Ross Duffer's new Netflix series Stranger Things is full of nostalgic nods to the decade and its pop-cultural products, but it's also uncommonly rigorous about getting the details just right — whether it's the many pitch-perfect music cues, the hat-tipping nods and homages to Eighties movies, or simply nailing the cringeworthy fashion statements of the day (those Mom jeans! »

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‘Stranger Things’ Fun Facts: Read Great Trivia About Music, Title Sequence & How Stephen King Shaped Filming

19 July 2016 1:41 PM, PDT | Indiewire Television | See recent Indiewire Television news »

Netflix’s new sci-fi horror series “Stranger Things” premiered last Friday to positive critical reception, with many critics noting the series’ debts to the work of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and Stephen King. There are many who have already binged the whole series already and there are plenty who still haven’t started, but Netflix has provided some great trivia about the series that will be fun for new or experience viewers.

Read More: Meet ‘Stranger Things’ Breakout Millie Bobby Brown, aka Lucky Number Eleven

For those who are intrigued by the series’ synth score, the composers of the soundtrack are Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon, two members of an Austin synth band called Survive. They have written over 13 hours of music for “Stranger Things.” Meanwhile, the title sequence was inspired by the work of Richard Greenberg, who designed a number of classic 80s title sequences, such as “Alien,” “Altered States, »

- Vikram Murthi

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‘Stranger Things’ Fun Facts: Read Great Trivia About Music, Title Sequence & How Stephen King Shaped Filming

19 July 2016 1:41 PM, PDT | Indiewire | See recent Indiewire news »

Netflix’s new sci-fi horror series “Stranger Things” premiered last Friday to positive critical reception, with many critics noting the series’ debts to the work of Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, and Stephen King. There are many who have already binged the whole series already and there are plenty who still haven’t started, but Netflix has provided some great trivia about the series that will be fun for new or experience viewers.

Read More: Meet ‘Stranger Things’ Breakout Millie Bobby Brown, aka Lucky Number Eleven

For those who are intrigued by the series’ synth score, the composers of the soundtrack are Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon, two members of an Austin synth band called Survive. They have written over 13 hours of music for “Stranger Things.” Meanwhile, the title sequence was inspired by the work of Richard Greenberg, who designed a number of classic 80s title sequences, such as “Alien,” “Altered States, »

- Vikram Murthi

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How Stranger Things Evoked Familiar Things (E.T.! Goonies! Freddy!) While Delivering Fresh, Fun Thrills

19 July 2016 6:50 AM, PDT | TVLine.com | See recent TVLine.com news »

Stranger Things were happening this past weekend for those who sampled and wound up bingeing all eight episodes of Netflix’s new drama series.

(Basic plotline/mild spoilers follow, until I announce otherwise. And I will announce otherwise.)

VideosStranger Things: Watch a Trailer for Winona Ryder Supernatural Drama

Created by brothers Matt and Ross Duffer (who cowrote a few episodes of Wayward Pines) and set in a small Indiana town circa 1983, Stranger Things revolves around the vanishing of a young boy, Will Byers , which comes on the heels of something escaping from a local, “secret” government lab lorded over by Dr. »

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A Look Back at Corey Feldman's Roller Coaster Life and Career After the Release of His New Album

18 July 2016 9:00 PM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

Corey Feldman has a lot to be thankful for on his 45th birthday. The former child star, who turned 45 on Saturday, recently released a new double-album titled Angelic 2 the Core, which had been in the works for over a decade. "I feel very grateful and very lucky to be alive still, to have any kind of semblance of normal life," he tells the AP. "I am blessed to have a beautiful child, a beautiful home, a beautiful girlfriend and a beautiful career ... I don't take any of it for granted." This is the fifth album Feldman has released under his recording moniker, »

- Michael Miller @write_miller

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A Look Back at Corey Feldman's Roller Coaster Life and Career After the Release of His New Album

18 July 2016 9:00 PM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

Corey Feldman has a lot to be thankful for on his 45th birthday. The former child star, who turned 45 on Saturday, recently released a new double-album titled Angelic 2 the Core, which had been in the works for over a decade. "I feel very grateful and very lucky to be alive still, to have any kind of semblance of normal life," he tells the AP. "I am blessed to have a beautiful child, a beautiful home, a beautiful girlfriend and a beautiful career ... I don't take any of it for granted." This is the fifth album Feldman has released under his recording moniker, »

- Michael Miller @write_miller

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The Stars of Stranger Things Dish on the Show’s "Gnarly, Weird Monster"

15 July 2016 8:35 AM, PDT | POPSUGAR | See recent BuzzSugar news »

Thanks to a heavy dose of mystery and some nostalgic teasers, Netflix's Stranger Things has quickly become one of the most highly anticipated shows of the Summer. Since we couldn't deal with the suspense any more, Popsugar tried to pry a few fun secrets out of David Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown, who respectively star as a gruff, apathetic police chief and a little girl named Eleven who may or may not be able to move things with her mind. From discussing the perils of trying to squeeze into polyester pants to exactly which episode of the first season will have your jaw on the floor, we're more pumped than ever to bingewatch the show this weekend. Popsugar: A few horror/sci-fi TV shows and movies with an '80s vibe have popped up lately, like It Follows and Wayward Pines. What do you think will make Stranger Things stand out from them, »

- Quinn Keaney

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TV News: Walking, Stranger, Catastrophe, Rebels

14 July 2016 5:06 PM, PDT | Dark Horizons | See recent Dark Horizons news »

The Walking Dead

The first official artwork for the seventh season of "The Walking Dead" has gone online ahead of the first trailer premiere which will take place at the San Diego Comic Con next Friday and will then likely go online very shortly afterwards. The new season premieres on AMC on Sunday, October 9th and you can check out a large version of the artwork right here.

Stranger Things

Netflix's eight-part science fiction nostalgia series "Stranger Things" premieres in a few ours, with the streaming service launching the opening eight-minute segment online. Scoring rave reviews from the critics, the show is said to be a big ol' love letter to the likes of Steven Spielberg and classic Stephen King, something akin to "The Goonies" and "E.T.".

Catastrophe

Amazon has greenlit two additional seasons of its critically-acclaimed series "Catastrophe". The comedy follows an Irish woman and an American man who, »

- Garth Franklin

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How Winona Ryder's Child Star Past Bonded Her with Her Stranger Things Costars

12 July 2016 11:15 AM, PDT | PEOPLE.com | See recent PEOPLE.com news »

Winona Ryder, who started her own Hollywood career when she was just entering her teens, reveals shared experience with her young costars from Netflix's Stranger Things did inspire some fond, maternal feelings. "The kids were amazing - it's really their show," Ryder told People at the premiere of the atmospheric adventure/horror series in Los Angeles. "They were just remarkable!" The series, set in small town Indiana in 1983, follows a set of preteens and a set of teenagers in the wake of the paranormal disappearance of a local boy. "It was really nice to see that these particular actors genuinely enjoyed acting, »

- Scott Huver

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Forget The Bfg, Spielberg ain’t past it yet…

9 July 2016 8:00 AM, PDT | Flickeringmyth | See recent Flickeringmyth news »

Tony Black on what the future holds for Steven Spielberg following the box office disappointment of The Bfg

This week, The Bfg joined this year’s list of ‘illustrious’ flops, at least in the Us where it tanked hard as it released off the back of Indepedence Day: Resurgence and the much more successful Finding Dory. That puts it in the same house as The Huntsman’s Winter War, Gods of Egypt & Zoolander 2. A Steven Spielberg movie. Based on a legendary children’s book by Roald Dahl. This can’t be right, surely? Well for whatever reason, nobody wanted to smell what The Bfg was cooking, and almost immediately commentators and sites decried this box office failure as the metaphorical ‘death of Spielberg’, suggesting the master of modern cinema has lost his magic touch with the takings and, moreover, has lost that special ingredient which made him arguably the »

- Tony Black

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The 'Goonies' Sequel Will Likely Never Happen, Here's Why

5 July 2016 10:47 AM, PDT | LatinoReview | See recent LatinoReview news »

While it may have only been one film, The Goonies is a film that's shaped a whole lot of childhoods. Not many films could live up to the same amount of adventure and fun as that one. With memorable villains, and even more memorable leads, it helped to define the Amblin Entertainment brand. A sequel has been rumored to be in the works for decades, but it hasn't really ever materialized for one reason or another.

Well, sadly, it doesn't sound like the film will ever take off, despite the fact that the director and most of the actors seem up to the idea. In a recent interview with MovieWeb, actor Corey Feldman (who played Mouth in The Goonies) expressed his doubts about the sequel ever coming to fruition.

"[Goonies director] Richard Donner is 87 years old. And it's like, no one really wants to make it without him. He's the driving force behind it. »

- Joseph Medina

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Corey Feldman talks honestly about Goonies sequel

5 July 2016 8:17 AM, PDT | JoBlo.com | See recent JoBlo news »

The Goonies may never say die, but they may not have a choice. Despite the fact many, many fans of the original children’s classic want a sequel, there’s a good chance their dreams of finding more of One-Eyed Willy’s treasure will be locked away forever. This is all coming from the mouth of Mouth himself, Corey Feldman. In an exclusive interview with MovieWeb, Feldman... Read More »

- Matt Rooney

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‘Goonies 2’: Corey Feldman Explains Why It’ll Probably Never Happen

5 July 2016 5:00 AM, PDT | Slash Film | See recent Slash Film news »

There’s been talk of a potential Goonies sequel for, oh, well over a decade at this point, and in 2014 the project finally seemed to be taking a step forward when director Richard Donner officially confirmed that one was in the works. But two years later, the planned sequel doesn’t seem to have made any real forward movement. And […]

The post ‘Goonies 2’: Corey Feldman Explains Why It’ll Probably Never Happen appeared first on /Film. »

- Angie Han

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‘The Goonies 2’ looking doubtful, says Corey Feldman

4 July 2016 11:10 PM, PDT | The Hollywood News | See recent The Hollywood News news »

Corey Feldman has given an update on the potential sequel to The Goonies, and it’s not good news folks.

Speaking to Movieweb, the actor, who played Mouth in the original film back in 1985, said that he doubts The Goonies 2 will happen at all.

Richard Donner is 87 years old. And it’s like, no one really wants to make it without him. He’s the driving force behind it. He says it’s still alive. But as we all know…when you get to that age, things slow down quite a bit. There is a big possibility that he might not want to keep driving it”, Feldman said.

“So, I think without him, it doesn’t happen. And every day that passes, that he doesn’t do it, there is less and less chance that it is ever going to happen at all”.

Feldman will next be seen in »

- Paul Heath

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The Goonies 2: Corey Feldman doubts it’ll happen

4 July 2016 10:11 PM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

Simon Brew Jul 5, 2016

Corey Feldman throws fresh doubt on whether we'll ever get to see The Goonies 2...

It’s been a while since we’ve heard any kind of news on the planned The Goonies 2. The last real update came from the writer of the original, Chris Columbus, back in April 2015, where he revealed that he, director Richard Donner and producer Steven Spielberg hadn’t yet come up with a story that they liked for the new film. As he said last year, “we are in the thick of it now, trying to figure it out”.

Yet 15 months later, there’s been no obvious sign of progress, and one of The GooniesCorey Feldman – has cast doubt over whether the film will happen at all.

The news that The Goonies 2 actually existed at all was broken by Richard Donner two years ago, but as Feldman told Movieweb, »

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The Real Reason Goonies 2 Probably Won't Happen | Exclusive

4 July 2016 10:04 AM, PDT | MovieWeb | See recent MovieWeb news »

Like other classics before it, such as It's a Wonderful Life and The Big Lebowski, The Goonies was not heralded as a piece of iconic Americana right out of the gate. In fact, when it arrived in the summer of 1985, it received fare to middling reviews with some critics calling it a noisy, vulgar Indiana Jones rip-off for the prepubescent set. Times change, though, and what may have initially been written off as fun seasonal fodder is now considered one of the all-time cinematic greats, and has gone on to become the most popular family movie in Warner Bros.' long and storied catalogue history, even eclipsing The Wizard of Oz. Like other true classics of a bygone era, The Goonies didn't ever get a sequel. Upon its release, it looked like a 'one and done' deal. But low and behold, over thirty years later, people involved with the original »

- MovieWeb

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Netflix's 'Stranger Things' is looking a lot like Spielberg - and that's not a compliment

30 June 2016 2:42 PM, PDT | Hitfix | See recent Hitfix news »

When I walked out of J.J. Abrams's blatant Steven Spielberg pastiche Super 8 back in 2011, my first instinct was to like it and my second was to feel completely annoyed by it. For all of its good intentions and some effective sequences (specifically, that terrific train crash), Abrams’ ode to Amblin’s Golden Age so self-consciously aped the moves of films like E.T., Close Encounters and The Goonies (the latter directed by Richard Donner, though Spielberg produced it) that it ultimately felt like a cynical exercise in nostalgia.  Now we’ve got Stranger Things, the new 1980-set Netflix sci-fi/fantasy series that has now fully revealed itself as yet another banal reworking of the same old Spielbergian tropes Abrams so slavishly mimicked five years ago. Judging by the latest trailer, it’s all there: the quiet, tree-lined suburbs; the charming group of pre-adolescent male friends; nighttime cruises on bikes »

- Chris Eggertsen

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Q&A: Composer Giona Ostinelli on Collaborating with Mickey Keating for Carnage Park, Darling & More

28 June 2016 9:53 AM, PDT | DailyDead | See recent DailyDead news »

Hitting the big screen in New York City and VOD platforms on July 1st before making its Los Angeles theatrical debut on July 8th from IFC Midnight, Mickey Keating’s Carnage Park marks his fourth feature film collaboration with acclaimed composer Giona Ostinelli. For our latest Q&A feature, we caught up with Ostinelli to discuss working with Keating, using a wide range of instruments and items (including a nail gun) to create unease in Carnage Park, and much more.

Giona, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us. Your score for Carnage Park marks your fourth collaboration with director Mickey Keating. What first attracted you to Keating’s work?

Giona Ostinelli: Thanks so much for having me! Yes indeed, Mickey Keating and I have collaborated on four films. Our first film together, Ritual, was acquired by Lionsgate; our second film, Pod, was released theatrically with »

- Derek Anderson

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Warner Bros, and its disastrous movie summer of 1997

13 June 2016 2:21 PM, PDT | Den of Geek | See recent Den of Geek news »

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Warner Bros has struggled with its blockbusters of late. But back in summer 1997 - Batman & Robin's year - it faced not dissimilar problems.

Earlier this year it was revealed that Warner Bros, following a string of costly movies that hadn’t hit box office gold (Pan, Jupiter Ascending, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., In The Heart Of The Sea), was restructuring its blockbuster movie business. Fewer films, fewer risks, more franchises, and more centering around movie universes seems to be the new approach, and the appointment of a new corporate team to oversee the Harry Potter franchise last week was one part of that.

In some ways, it marks the end of an era. Whilst it retains its relationships with key directing talent (Ben Affleck, Clint Eastwood, Christopher Nolan for instance), Warner Bros was, for the bulk of the 1990s in particular, the studio that the others were trying to mimic. It worked with the same stars and filmmakers time and time again, and under then-chiefs Terry Semel and Robert Daly, relationships with key talent were paramount.

Furthermore, the studio knew to leave that talent to do its job, and was also ahead of the pack in developing franchises that it could rely on to give it a string of hits.

However, whilst Warner Bros is having troubles now, its way of doing business was first seriously challenged by the failure of its slate in the summer of 1997. Once again, it seemed to have a line up to cherish, that others were envious of. But as film by film failed to click, every facet of Warner Bros’ blockbuster strategy suddenly came under scrutiny, and would ultimately fairly dramatically change. Just two summers later, the studio released The Matrix, and blockbuster cinema changed again.

But come the start of summer 1997? These are the movies that Warner Bros had lined up, and this is what happened…

February - National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation

Things actually had got off to a decent enough start for the studio earlier in the year, so it's worth kicking off there. It brought Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo back together, for the fourth National Lampoon movie, and the first since 1989’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Interestingly, it dropped the National Lampoon moniker in the Us, and instead released the eventual movie as Vegas Vacation. It was a belated sequel, back when belated sequels weren’t that big a thing.

The film was quickly pulled apart by reviewers, but it still just about clawed a profit. The production budget of $25m was eclipsed by the Us gross of $36m, and the movie would do comfortable business on video/DVD. Not a massive hit, then, but hardly a project that had a sense of foreboding about it.

Yet the problems were not far away.

May – Father's Day

Warner Bros had a mix of movies released in the Us in March and April 1997, including modest Wesley Snipes-headlined thriller Murder At 1600, and family flick Shiloh. But it launched its summer season with Father’s Day, an expensive packaged comedy from director Ivan Reitman, starring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. It had hit written all over it.

Father’s Day was one of the movies packaged by the CAA agency, and its then-head, Mike Ovitz (listed regularly by Premiere magazine in the 1990s as one of the most powerful men in Hollywood, if not the most powerful man). That he brought together the stars, the director and the project, gave a studio a price tag, and the studio duly paid it. Given Warner Bros’ devotion to star talent (Mel Gibson, then one of the biggest movie stars in the world, and a major Warner Bros talent, was persuaded to film a cameo), it was a natural home for the film. It quickly did the deal. few questions asked.

That package, and CAA’s fees for putting it together, brought the budget for a fairly straightforward comedy to a then-staggering $85m. The problem, though, was that the film simply wasn’t very good. It’s one of those projects that looks great on paper, less great when exposed on a great big screen. Warner Bros has snapped it up, without - it seems - even properly reading the script. 

Premiere magazine quoted a Warner Bros insider back in November 1997 as saying “when [CAA] calls and says ‘we have a package, Father’s Day, with Williams and Crystal and Reitman, we say ‘great’”, adding “we don’t scrutinise the production. When we saw the movie, it took the wind out of us. We kept reshooting and enhancing, but you can’t fix something that’s bad”.

And it was bad.

The movie would prove to be the first big misfire of the summer, grossing just $35m in the Us, and not adding a fat lot more elsewhere in the world. Warner Bros’ first film of the summer was a certified flop. More would soon follow.

May - Addicted To Love

A more modestly priced project was Addicted To Love, a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick. Just over a year later, Warner Bros would hit big when Meg Ryan reunited with Tom Hanks for Nora Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail. But here? The film was a modest success, at best.

Directed by Griffin Dunne (making his directorial debut), and put together in partnership with Miramax, Addicted To Love was based around the Robert Palmer song of the same name. But whilst it was sold as a romcom, the muddled final cut was actually a fair bit darker. There was an underlying nastiness to some moments in the film, and when the final box office was tallied, it came in lower than the usual returns for pictures from Ryan or Broderick. Counter-programming it against the release of The Lost World: Jurassic Park didn’t massively help in this instance either, especially as the Jurassic Park sequel would smash opening weekend records.

Addicted To Love ended up with $34.6m at the Us box office. It would eke out a small profit.

June - Batman & Robin

And this is when the alarm bells started to ring very, very loudly. Summer 1997 was supposed to be about a trio of sure-fire hit sequels: Batman 4, Jurassic Park 2 and Speed 2. Only one of those would ultimately bring home the box office bacon, the others being destroyed by critics, and ultimately leaving far more empty seats than anticipated in multiplexes.

Batman & Robin, it’s easy to forget, came off the back of 1995’s Joel Schumacher-steered Batman reboot, Batman Forever that year's biggest movie). It had one of the fastest-growing stars in the world in the Batsuit (George Clooney), and the McDonald’s deals were signed even before the script was typed up. You don’t need us to tell you that you could tell, something of a theme already in Warner Bros' summer of '97.

That said, Batman & Robin still gave Warner Bros a big opening, but in the infancy of the internet as we know it, poisonous word of mouth was already beginning to spread. The film’s negative cost Warner Bros up to $140m, before marketing and distribution costs, and it opened in the Us to a hardly-sniffy $42m of business (although that was down from previous Batman movies).

But that word of mouth still accelerated its departure from cinemas. It was then very rare for a film to make over 40% of its Us gross in its first weekend. But that’s just what Batman & Robin did, taking $107.3m in America, part of a worldwide total of $238.2m. This was the worst return for a Batman movie to date, and Warner Bros had to swiftly put the brakes on plans to get Batman Triumphant moving.

It would be eight years until Batman returned to the big screen, in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. Warner Bros would undergo big changes in the intervening period.

As for the immediate aftermath of Batman & Robin? Warner Bros co-chief Robert Daly would note at the end of '97 that “we’d have been better off with more action in the picture. The movie had to service too many characters”, adding that “the next Batman we do, in three years – and we have a deal with George Clooney to do it – will have one villain”.

Fortunately, Warner Bros’ one solid hit of the summer was just around the corner…

July - Contact

And breathe out.

Warner Bros bet heavily again on expensive talent here, with Robert Zemeckis bringing his adaptation of Carl Sagan’s Contact to the studio for his first film post-Forrest Gump. Warner Bros duly footed the $90m bill (back when that was still seen as a lot of money for a movie), a good chunk of which went to Jodie Foster. It invested heavily in special effects, and gave Zemeckis licence to make the film that he wanted.

The studio was rewarded with the most intelligent and arguably the best blockbuster of the summer. I’ve looked back at Contact in a lot more detail here, and it remains a fascinating film that’s stood the test of time (and arguably influenced Christopher Nolan’s more recent Interstellar).

Reviews were strong, it looked terrific, and the initial box office was good.

But then the problem hit. For whilst Contact was a solid hit for Warner Bros, it wasn’t a massively profitable one. Had Father’s Day and Batman & Robin shouldered the box office load there were supposed to, it perhaps wouldn’t have been a problem. But when they failed to take off, the pressure shifted to Contact.

The movie would gross $100.9m in the Us, and add another $70m overseas (this being an era were international box office rarely had the importance it has today). But once Warner Bros had paid its bills, there wasn’t a fat lot over for itself. Fortunately, the film still sells on disc and on-demand. Yet it wasn’t to be the massive hit the studio needed back in 1997.

July - One Eight Seven

From director Kevin Reynolds, the man who helmed Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and Waterworld, came modestly-priced drama 187, starring Samuel L Jackson (in a strong performance). Warner Bros wouldn’t have had massive box office expectations for the film (although it can't have been unaware that the inspirational teacher sub-genre was always worth a few quid), and it shared production duties on the $20m movie with Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions. But still, it would have had its eye on a modest success. What it got in return was red ink.

The film’s not a bad one, and certainly worth seeking out. But poor reviews gave the film an uphill struggle from the off – smaller productions arriving mid-summer really needed critics on their side, as they arguably still do – and it opened to just $2.2m of business (the less edgy, Michelle Pfeiffer-headlined school drama Dangerous Minds had been a surprise hit not two years before).

By the time its run was done, 187 hadn’t even come close to covering its production costs, with just under $6m banked.

Warner Bros’ summer slate was running out of films. But at least it had one of its most reliable movie stars around the corner…

August - Conspiracy Theory

What could go wrong? Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts were two of the biggest movie stars in the world in 1997, at a time when movie stars still equated to box office gold. Director Richard Donner, one of Warner Bros’ favourite directors, had delivered the Lethal Weapons, Maverick, Superman, The Goonies and more for the studio. Put them altogether, with Patrick Stewart (coming to wider public consciousness at the time off the back of his Star Trek: The Next Generation work) as a villain, and it should have been a big hit.

Conspiracy Theory proved to be one of the more ambitious summer blockbusters of the era. It lacks a good first act, which would be really useful in actually setting up more of what’s going on. But Gibson played an edgy cab driver who believes in deep government conspiracies, and finds himself getting closer to the truth than those around him sometimes give him credit for.

Warner Bros was probably expecting another Lethal Weapon with the reunion of Gibson (who had to be persuaded to take Conspiracy Theory on) and Donner (it’s pretty much what it got with the hugely enjoyable Maverick a few years’ earlier), but instead it got a darker drama, with an uneasy central character that didn’t exactly play to the summer box office crowd.

The bigger problem, though, was that the film never quite worked as well as you might hope. Yet star power did have advantages. While no juggernaut, the film did decent business, grossing $137m worldwide off the back of an $80m budget ($40m of which was spent on the salaries for the talent before a single roll of film was loaded into a camera). That said, in the Us it knocked a genuine smash hit, Air Force One, off the top spot. Mind you in hindsight, that was probably the film that the studio wished it had made (the cockpit set of Warner Bros' own Executive Decision was repurposed for Air Force One, fact fans).

Still: Warner Bros did get Lethal Weapon 4 off Gibson and Donner a year later…

August - Free Willy 3: The Rescue

Yeah.

Warner Bros opened its third Free Willy film on the same day as Conspiracy Theory (can you imagine a studio opening two big films on the same day now), but it was clear that this was a franchise long past its best days (and its best days hardly bring back the fondest of memories).

Still, Free Willy movies were relatively modest in cost to put together, and Warner Bros presumably felt this was a simple cashpoint project. But in a year when lots of family movies did less business than expected (Disney’s Hercules, Fox’s Home Alone 3, Disney’s Mr Magoo), Free Willy 3 barely troubled the box office. It took in just over $3m in total, and Willy would not be seen on the inside of a cinema again.

August - Steel

Not much was expected from Steel, a superhero movie headlined by Shaquille O’Neal. Which was fortunate, because not much was had.

It had a mid-August release date in the Us, at a point when a mid-August release date was more of a dumping ground than anything else. And even though the budget was set at a relatively low $16m, the film – and it’s an overused time – pretty much bombed. It took $1.7m at the Us box office, and given that its appeal hinged on a major American sports star whose fame hardly transcended the globe, its international takings did not save it (it went straight to video in many territories).

It was a miserable end to what, for warner bros, had been a thoroughly miserable summer.

So what did hit big in summer 1997?

Summer 1997 was infamous for big films failing to take off in the way that had been expected – Hercules, Speed 2, and the aforementioned Warner Bros movies – but there were several bright spots. The big winner would be Barry Sonnenfeld’s light and sprightly sci-fi comedy Men In Black, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Star power too helped score big hits for Harrison Ford (Air Force One), Julia Roberts (My Best Friend’s Wedding) and John Travolta (Face/Off).

This was also the summer that Nicolas Cage cemented his action movie credentials with Face/Off and Con Air. Crucially, though, the star movies that hit were the ones that veered on the side of 'good'. For the first of many years, the internet was blamed for this.

Oh, and later in the year, incidentally, Titanic would redefine just what constituted a box office hit...

What came next for Warner Bros?

In the rest of 1997, Warner Bros had a mix of projects that again enjoyed mixed fortunes. The standout was Curtis Hanson’s stunning adaptation of L.A. Confidential, that also proved to be a surprise box office success. The Devil’s Advocate didn’t do too badly either.

However, two of the studio’s key filmmakers failed to really deliver come the end of 1997. Clint Eastwood’s Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil failed to ignite (although many felt he was always on a hiding to nothing in trying to adapt that for the screen), and Kevin Costner’s The Postman would prove arguably the most expensive box office disappointment of the year. No wonder the studio rushed Lethal Weapon 4 into production for summer 1998. Oh, and it had The Avengers underway too (not that one), that would prove to be a 1998 disappointment.

The studio would eventually take action. The Daly-Semel management team, that had reigned for 15 years, would break up at the end of 1999, as its traditional way of doing business became less successful. The pair had already future projects that were director driven to an extent (Eyes Wide Shut), and it would still invest in movies with stars (Wild Wild West). But the immediate plan of action following the disappointment of summer 1997 – to get Batman 5 and Superman Lives made – would falter. It wouldn’t be until 1999’s The Matrix (a film that Daly and Semel struggled to get) and – crucially – 2001’s Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone that the studio would really get its swagger back...

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