WTHR flashback: Summer movies of 1993

Searching for Bobby Fischer: The best movie you never saw?
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Matt Kerkhoff/WTHR.com

If you are a movie fan, the summers bring a feeling of both extreme excitement and fearful dread.  Hollywood rolls out its biggest blockbusters trying to lure as many paying (and hopefully repeating) customers as possible.  The excitement comes from the anticipated release of the mega-movies.  The dread comes from knowing most of them will be disappointing.  Stars align when the one you anticipate the most does not disappoint. 

Sadly, last summer Prometheus and Dark Knight Rises did not align for me. However it is always fun to look back at summers of long ago and remember the ups and downs we went through.  So let's take a look 20 years back, at the summer of 1993.

The Biggest Hit was Jurassic Park, and deservedly so.  Spielberg once again set the benchmark for summer movies and changed the world of digital effects forever.  But what makes this movie so memorable is the fact it is a movie theater movie.  Watch it at home on a standard TV without a sound system and you are not that impressed.  Blow up the picture and crank up the sound and you remember why it shook you the first time you saw it.  And if you still need more, Jurassic Park 4 is scheduled to be released in 2015 (in 3D, of course).

Top Earners included The Fugitive, The Firm, In the Line of Fire and CliffhangerFugitive and Line of Fire are still great suspense stories.  Cliffhanger has some good sequences in it, but you can definitely tell when they were shooting on location and when they moved to the sound stage.  The Firm never did anything for me.  In fact, I barely remember Tom Cruise did this movie.  I think the lack of a real villain (i.e. the general mafia) made it confusing to figure out what Tom was running from, and we know Tom loves to run (see Minority Report, War of the Worlds, etc.)

The Bombs are not the ones we expect to be bad (Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday) but are the ones we have such high hopes for but leave the theater wishing we'd waited for the dollar show (back when those still existed).  Last Action Hero was the one for this summer.  This was Arnold's first movie since T2 two years earlier and I even remember the extra early teaser trailers for Last Action Hero coming out during the Christmas season.  The campiness and constant winks to the audience produced groans instead of fans.  The other big duds were Super Mario Bros, and So I Married An Axe Murderer.  Mike Myers was coming off the Wayne's World hit the year before.

The Sleeper Hit was coincidentally, Sleepless in Seattle, which I doubt would work today since talk radio is not what it use to be.  Free Willy also did well, of course spawning many sequels where Willy continues to be recaptured.

The Fad Movie is one where the studios make what is hot right now and just hope it works.  Back in 1993, MTV was hot and who was on MTV?  Pauly Shore.  So we got Son-In-Law.

The Fad of the Times is similar to the fad movie, but here the studios are producing what is becoming hot in the industry itself (think of The Matrix and all the movies afterward that tried to emulate it).  The African-American teenage struggle in the U.S. was making waves in Hollywood, as was the rise of director John Singleton, so we saw Poetic Justice and Menace II Society.  But that trend doesn't seem to have led to significant changes in representation of African-Americans on the big screen or behind the scenes. Unfortunately, the percentage of African-American actors on-screen is only 13% and African American directors only make up 4% of the Director's Guild. However, there are several films coming out this year that may be worth checking out.

The Best Movie You Never Saw during the summer of 1993 was Searching for Bobby Fischer.  I know, it's a movie about chess and how can anything about chess be that good?  Check (no pun intended) it out though if you have somehow missed it for the past 20 years.  You will be blown away simply over the fact you don't need to know a thing about chess to appreciate this little gem.

Already Forgotten films are the ones you remember you saw, but have never watched again.  Sliver, Hot Shots: Part Deux, Coneheads, Hard Target, The Man Without A Face and Dennis the Menace may evoke an "Oh, yeah……."

See a list of all the movies released in 1993 and how they did at the box office.

Trivia:  Although it changed how digital effects are used in movies, Jurassic Park only contained 6 minutes of digital dinosaur effects in the entire movie.  Imagine if the Man of Steel crew was told that's all they needed to make! Ticket prices in the Indianapolis area were $5.50