Well, 2008 has just about come and gone. And what a year it has been. So much has happened this year, making it a truly memorable year in Hollywood. All of the other movie sites are busy writing top movie lists, if they haven’t already done so. We have just put up the first installment of our list. But I thought, this year has been about so much more than just big time movies. And if all we did here at MovieGuys was a top movie list, we would not be doing this year in Hollywood any justice. And I want to remind everyone about all the other events from this year: tragic deaths, big box office numbers, the 3D explosion, and so much more. I will present these to you, along with my commentary, in no particular order. So, without further ado, I present to you the year that was 2008.
I want to first off state that I do not want this piece to leave a bittersweet taste in your mouth. So I will begin with the tragedies of this year so that we may leave on a positive note. Many people will remember this year as a year of loss. Hollywood lost a great number of people this year, from big name stars to character actors. We even lost the voice of the movie trailer itself. Here, I will list some of the bigger names that were lost this year. And I can honestly say that my thoughts and prayers, as well as the well wishes of all of us here at MovieGuys, are with the families of the deceased. In no particular order, may we remember the following individuals by remembering the joy they brought so many people:
Majel Roddenberry, the voice of all Star Fleet computers in the many iterations of Star Trek. She was 76. Character actor Robert Pronsky. He was 77. Movie star and gun rights activist Charlton Heston. He was 84. Director, producer and actor Sydney Pollack. He was 73. Comedic actor Harvey Korman. He was 81. Visual effects master Stan Winston. He was 62. Actor and ground-breaking comedian George Carlin. He was 71. Actor and stand up comedian Bernie Mac. He was 50. Actor, activist and race car driver Paul Newman. He was 83. Michael Crichton, author of the book turned movie Jurassic Park. He was 66. The infamous “voice of the movie trailer” Don LaFontaine. He was 68. And finally, the tragic death that will probably come to mind before all the others, actor Heath Ledger. Tragically, he was only 28.
All of these deaths were tragic, and Hollywood is a worse place without these fine people. May they rest in peace.
Let’s get to something exciting, shall we? This year can no doubt be called the year of the box office smashes. January kicked things off with a big opening weekend for JJ Abrams’ giant monster movie Cloverfield. It made an estimated $40,058,229, breaking the record held by Star Wars (special edition) for biggest opening weekend in January. Things certainly didn’t slow down as March brought us Horton Hears a Who, and that earned an estimated $45,012,998. The summer movie season got kicked off with a bang following the release of Iron Man, starring Robert Downey Jr and directed by Jon Favreau. This film was exciting, and even though Iron Man would be classified as one of marvel comics “B list” characters, fans came in big numbers. And the film went on to be the first big box office draw of the season. The movie took in an estimated $580,379,406. Rotten Tomatoes list Iron Man as having a 93% positive review rate.
Iron Man was followed by The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Sex and the City, Kung Fu Panda, The Incredible Hulk, Wall-E and Hancock, all of which grossed over $50,000,000. Big numbers so far pale in comparison to what was to come. July 20th brought The Dark Knight and records were shattered. TDK went on to become one of the highest grossing films of all time, shattering records as it stayed near the top of the box office for well over a month. November brought us Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Quantum of Solace, and Twilight. All of those films went on to have very successful runs in the theater, grossing loads of cash.
I believe there is something bigger here. The big box office numbers from early in January till now indicates to me that despite the economy, people are enjoying movies now more than ever. And who wouldn’t? This year was filled with great films. It sure has been fun this year. We have seen greatness in all genres. Horror had Cloverfield and The Strangers. Action had Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The kiddies had Kung Fu Panda and Wall-E. Chick flicks had Sex and the City and Twilight. Everyone had something they could enjoy this year!
This year also saw a spike in the number of 3D films that were in wide release. We saw this used in both concerts broadcast on the theater screens and in traditional movies. Journey to the Center of the Earth, starring Brendan Fraser and Bolt are perfect examples. Now, neither of those movies went on to be huge box office draws, but that doesn’t seem to scare film makers away from this type of film. Announcements were made this year regarding future 3D projects, including James Cameron’s Avatar and Monsters vs Aliens by Rob Letterman. Soon we will see sports games broadcast in 3D. What does this mean for all of us? And who is behind this? Well, you could refer to 790’s article on 3D here. I can honestly say I am straddling the fence on this issue. On one hand, I enjoy the occasional 3D flick. On the other, I see this heading to a bad place. As 790 referenced in the aforementioned article, some people feel that 3D is the future, and soon most of if not all of the films being made will be made this way. I do not like anyone telling me how I should view a film. I know there are also many people out there (including some of our valued friends here at MovieGuys) that cannot properly view and enjoy 3D due to optical issues. So why should they be left out?
That just about wraps up part one of my two part “Year in Review” for 2008. Make sure to tune in tomorrow for one more big story from Hollywood and my final thoughts on the year that was 2008!