Film Seizure #258 – Big Trouble in Little China

Hop aboard the Porkchop Express for this week’s episode of Film Seizure as we discuss the 1986 John Carpenter classic Big Trouble in Little China!

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  1. When this came out, I worked at The Quad (for readers not related to the hosts, this was when movie theaters were in malls, one inside and one out in the parking lot, specifically. Two of us worked at the outside, four screen building and the other two definitely knew about it). I’d started at the end of March, right after my 17th birthday, my first line-up being:

    I. Gung Ho (Ron Howard directs Michael Keaton again) – third week
    II. Lucas (Corey Haim, Pre-Platoon/insanity Charlie Sheen, Wynony Ryder) – opening
    III. Crossroads (The Karate Kid learns the blues) – second week
    IV. Wildcats (Goldie Hawn coaches football) – 6th week

    Before Big Trouble in Little China came out, we also ran Violets Are Blue… (Kline and Spacek, directed by her husband), Legend, No Retreat – No Surrender, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, Jake Speed, Raw Deal, and The Manhattan Project. We also played off (from Lowes) Murphy’s Romance (Sally Field, James Garner, Haim) and At Close Range (I watched the final 15 minutes every time it ran – surprisingly good movie, with a great ending face off). You remember how it was feast or famine at movie theaters? I entered mid-famine until our first real hit, Ruthless People, opened on June 27th, and three weeks later, ALIENS, which we kept until November, for a total of 16 weeks I think. Now, by the time we got ALIENS, Big Trouble was already gone. They not only didn’t overlap, they didn’t even meet, as ALIENS was a Wednesday release. Trouble only played two full weeks because almost every movie was booked with a two week minimum. The week it opened, it didn’t even place in the top ten (I feel like it was #14). This was its first week:

    1 (wk 1) The Karate Kid, Part II
    2 (wk 4) Ruthless People
    3 (wk 2) Back to School
    4 (wk 5) Top Gun
    5 (wk 3) Legal Eagles
    6 (wk 6) Running Scared
    7 (open) The Great Mouse Detective
    8 (wk 7) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
    9 (open) About Last Night…
    10 (wk 9) Three Men and a Cradle

    By the way, Top Gun, after one week at #1, held at mostly 4 & 5 through the summer, then was #1 again in mid-September.

    I saw Big Trouble in Little China four times in its final week. The first time, my friend and I, though both well into driving age, on our mutual day off had no available cars between us, so we biked to the mall, about 45 minutes each way on roads not intended for bicycles, and sat in auditorium 3 (How I convinced my boss to move it there, I don’t know. It was our only Dolby house, and it needed good sound) on a Wednesday afternoon with 10 other people, and I had one of my best moviegoing experiences ever.

    This movie is part of why I really like Death Proof (the Grindhouse version, the only version I’ve seen), because only Kurt Russel could fully commit to both this kind of hero, and his being that much inept (or a screaming, whiny beggar for help in the latter).


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