JANUARY'S THEME: Party Like It's 1999
Ah, 1999. I remember it fondly—the age of Y2K hysteria, the twilight of the Clinton Era, the dawning of the Willenium.
My memories of movies that year were colored more by slumber parties than any time spent in theaters. Regardless, 1999 was by most accounts a fantastic year for movies, and it’s a year worth celebrating for more than its nostalgia factor.
At the box office, Star Wars stormed back into our lives to the tune of $983 million after a 16 year absence. Since we’ve entered the age of sequels and cinematic universes, it’s almost hard to remember just how crazed we all were about the return of the Star Wars franchise. I literally had my birthday party in the line to see Phantom Menace on opening weekend. 2.2 million people skipped work so they could see it, which resulted in a productivity loss of nearly $300 million. Think about that—in 1999, a new Star Wars cost the American economy the equivalent of many Caribbean nations’ entire GDPs.
But it wasn’t just tentpoles in 1999. It was also a time when Julia Roberts’ smile could still effortlessly bag $300 million (plus Hugh Grant!), and Kevin Spacey’s predatory tendencies were still passing as artistically subversive rather than just plain criminal. Truly a different time.
The movie world was different back then, but it was also the same. In 2019, it’s not just possible, but probable that the box office top 5 includes both a Star Wars and a Toy Story property by year end. What really made 1999, though, was the undercard—the slate of 10–20 movies that made between $10–70 million and that we’ve all somehow seen 100 times. It was a great year for arthouse (Magnolia, Being John Malkovich, Election), for comedy (Office Space, Austin Powers 2), for mind fucks (Fight Club, The Matrix, The Sixth Sense) and especially for high school movies (Cruel Intentions, American Pie, 10 Things I Hate About You, Never Been Kissed, Varsity Blues, She’s All That).
It’s the undercard that we’re celebrating this month as we share film selection duties with our esteemed friends at Georgia Beer Garden and Videodrome. Each week, one of us will pick a movie and tell you why via email. Then, we’ll all get together at Georgia Beer Garden on Wednesday at 7:00pm to watch (for free!), drink, eat, and even discuss (if you’re into that).
All you have to do is sign up.*
*This isn’t a trick. It’s just how our film license works.