Thirty summers ago, 1989 was one of the biggest movie summers of all-time. This week ComingSoon.net heard from well over 2000 of its readers about which film they consider to be the best (and worst) of Summer 1989, and you can check out the official results of both polls below below!
RELATED: POLL RESULTS: Should Tim Burton and Michael Keaton Make a Third Batman?
What was the Best Movie of Summer 1989?
Batman (41%, 890 votes)
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (33%, 721 votes)
Lethal Weapon 2 (5%, 110 votes)
The Abyss (4%, 78 votes)
Ghostbusters 2 (3%, 61 votes)
Dead Poets Society (2%, 54 votes)
Road House (2%, 41 votes)
Do the Right Thing (2%, 37 votes)
Uncle Buck (2%, 36 votes)
UHF (1%, 31 votes)
When Harry Met Sally… (1%, 30 votes)
Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1%, 28 votes)
Weekend at Bernie’s (1%, 24 votes)
Licence to Kill (1%, 18 votes)
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child (0%, 7 votes)
Parenthood (0%, 6 votes)
Casualties of War (0%, 6 votes)
Miracle Mile (0%, 4 votes)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (0%, 3 votes)
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (0%, 2 votes)
We had a feeling it would be a big duke out between Batman and Indiana Jones, but as he did that summer the Dark Knight emerged triumphant. Nearly all the other films received a middling number of votes, with Star Trek V and Sex, Lies, and Videotape firmly at the bottom of the heap.
What was the Worst Movie of Summer 1989?
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (24%, 404 votes)
The Karate Kid Part III (16%, 278 votes)
Earth Girls Are Easy (12%, 207 votes)
Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! (9%, 161 votes)
No Holds Barred (8%, 135 votes)
The Adventures of Milo and Otis (6%, 94 votes)
Fright Night Part 2 (5%, 91 votes)
Vampire’s Kiss (4%, 61 votes)
Pink Cadillac (3%, 52 votes)
Cookie (3%, 48 votes)
How I Got Into College (3%, 46 votes)
Great Balls of Fire! (25, 38 votes)
Turner & Hooch (2%, 37 votes)
See No Evil, Hear No Evil (2%, 27 votes)
Lock Up (1%, 15 votes)
Renegades (1%, 13 votes)
The metric for success was a little different in this poll, with more votes being the worse outcome. Famously terrible sequel Jason Takes Manhattan (in which the title character only spends about a third of the movie in NYC, and the rest on a boat in Canada) managed to take the top “prize” here as the worst movie of 1989, with Karate Kid Part III and Earth Girls Are Easy also coming in close to the top… or really, the bottom.
RELATED: POLL RESULTS: Can Another Actor Be Indiana Jones After Harrison Ford?
So what made Summer 1989 so amazing? If you were too young to remember, it was a year when studios unleashed a wave of sequels to hugely popular, decade-defining films, and served as something of a template for the modern franchise-focused tentpoles that dominate the months of April through August. New installments of Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, Lethal Weapon, Star Trek and 007 helped feed the appetite of audiences that wanted more of these iconic heroes.
But this was also a moment in time when original, non-IP films had a chance to make a big splash. It’s hard to imagine a low-key romantic comedy like When Harry Met Sally… raking in nearly $100 million ($200 million in 2019 dollars) today. A film like that might even go Direct to VOD. More human comedy/dramas like Parenthood, Dead Poets Society and Uncle Buck all did great business as well. It was also a huge summer for powerful filmmaking voices like Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing) and Steven Soderbergh (Sex, Lies, and Videotape) to emerge as the independent film movement took hold.
The big draw that summer, though, was Batman. It’s hard to imagine if you weren’t there at the time, but Tim Burton’s superhero blockbuster was a true cultural phenomenon, with lines wrapping around theaters to see Michael Keaton’s Dark Knight battle Jack Nicholson’s Joker in a gothic dystopian Gotham City. The film changed the way tentpoles were marketed, and ushered in the era of the modern, grittier superhero movie.
Of course, in any classic era for films there are always a lot of duds as well. New entries in the Friday the 13th, Fright Night and Karate Kid series all died at the box office. You also have oddities like the sci-fi comedy musical Earth Girls Are Easy or the campy Nicolas Cage cult film Vampire’s Kiss. Even vehicles for big stars like Sly Stallone (Lock Up), Clint Eastwood (Pink Cadillac) and the re-teaming of Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor (See No Evil, Hear No Evil) didn’t really work.
Which are your favorite movies of 1989? Let us know in the comments below!