Movies of 1988 Bracket Game: Die Hard Vs. Midnight Run
Okay, so this one might be a teeny bit lopsided. I fully expect Die Hard to win its way into the final four and I won’t be the least bit surprised if it makes it to the final round. Heck, it’s probably the odds-on favorite to take the crown. Pretty much anything I might put up against Die Hard in the first round was going to get steamrolled. One of the reasons Die Hard was able to redefine action movies is that the genre wasn’t in the best place in the late 80’s. Take a look at the other action movies of the year and you will see what I mean. Other than Midnight Run, my best options were They Live, Bloodsport, Above the Law and Action Jackson. I like some of those movies and I know they all have their fans. But Midnight Run is better than all of them. It’s a near-perfect buddy comedy that had the misfortune to come up against John McClane.
Before we start blowing things up in slow motion, let’s review the results of yesterday’s deceit-filled match-up. This one stayed close through most of the morning, but a clear victor pulled ahead after I commented that a particular outcome might make my job a little easier. Did that sway afternoon voters? I don’t know, but if it did I appreciate the sentiment.
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels ended up beating Dangerous Liaisons with just over 60% of the votes. That means we will have a con-man comedy showdown in round two when Steve Martin and Michael Caine face off against John Cleese, Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis.
In the thirty years since Die Hard was first released, something has been lost. The Die Hard formula has been applied to planes, trains and automobiles. Not to mention buses, cruise ships and hockey games. There isn’t a location left that hasn’t been made into a “Die Hard on a <fill-in-the-blank>” movie. On top of that, Bruce Willis has gone from the goofy guy on Moonlighting to full-on action star. What I am getting at is that when audiences bought their tickets in 1988, Willis was still believable as an everyman hero and no one had any idea how awesome the next two hours were going to be. Die Hard was like getting in line for It’s a Small World and being loaded onto a massive steel roller coaster instead.
So who wants to guess where Die Hard falls in the top grossing movies of 1988? It had to be #1, right? Wrong. Die Hard wasn’t even in the top 5. It didn’t even crack $100 million dollars. With a gross just north of $80 million dollars, the original Die Hard was the seventh highest grossing movie of the year more than $25 million dollars behind the 6th place finisher, Crocodile Dundee II. Crazy, right?
Midnight Run, starring Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin, was a little farther down the list. With a gross of less than $40 million dollars, it was the 29th highest grossing movie of the year behind a reissue of Disney’s Bambi. Critics liked Midnight Run more than audiences. Reviews were overwhelmingly positive. For the last three decades, I have maintained that the movie is critically under-rated. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.
The movie was originally set up at Paramount where director Martin Brest had a hit with his previous movie, Beverly Hills Cop. Robert DeNiro became interested when he lost the lead role in Big to Tom Hanks. Both DeNiro and Brest liked Charles Grodin’s audition, but Paramount wanted a bigger star. At one point, they suggested changing the character’s gender and casting Cher. Of the possible male costars, the studio liked Robin Williams. But, Brest stuck to his guns and ended up taking the movie to Universal instead.
As great as Midnight Run is, the mediocre box office meant we were denied a sequel. But looking at how the Die Hard sequels turned out, maybe that’s for the best. Did anybody really want to see Midnight 2: Run Harder?
Okay, here we go. Anyone not voting for Die Hard?
Posted on January 3, 2018, in Bracket Game, Movies and tagged Alan Rickman, Bruce Willis, Charles Grodin, Die Hard, John McTiernan, Martin Brest, Midnight Run, Robert De Niro. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.