Sunday, November 1, 2015

Newsploitation: Brutal Bronson Batters Box Office Bloody

Kind of hard to believe that October came and went that fast. Many thanks to VJ honcho Tom for keeping the blog alive with his muchos excelentes críticas. Of course now it is November and time to focus on the turkeys. That word, however, would only be used by the uneducated to celebrate today’s box office anniversary. Yes, DEATH WISH 3 turns 30 years old today as it delivered justice beginning on November 1, 1985.

Based off the novel by Brian Garfield, the original DEATH WISH (1974) was a film that came out at just the right time in the nation. The story of architect-turned-vigilante Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson) hit home with a lot of ‘70s cinemagoers who were being assaulted with daily news reports about how violent the times were. No surprise, it was a big box office hit when it came out in July 1974, taking the top spot for a month and ended up one of the 20 highest grossers that year. It was also the first time a Bronson solo vehicle had debuted at number one. The belated sequel, DEATH WISH II (1982), arrived at a much different time eight years later. It didn’t fare as well, but it did well enough for new producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus to warrant a third entry.

The third film was announced as early as March 1982, just a month after the sequel was in theaters. The film was officially on the slate when Bronson signed a three-picture deal with Cannon in November 1983 (another project mentioned in this blurb was a proposed remake of Bronson’s RIDER ON THE RAIN [1970]). In May 1984 it was announced that Michael Winner would again direct the sequel with a script by Don Jakoby, who had recently done Cannon’s LIFEFORCE (1985). Filming began in England in April 1985 with a fall October 25 release date planned. Wait...England? So Bronson was going to bring his brand of vigilantism to the land of bobbies? Nope. Michael Winner decided to film his New York set sequel in England with a few days shooting in NYC. Genius? Just maybe. The film is so over-the-top that the locations actually add a surreal quality to the film’s madness.

And madness it was. DEATH WISH 3 (no more roman numerals) was awarded an X-rating for excessive violence in early September 1985. Pretty insane for an action film at the time, especially with RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II dominating the box office that summer. Even more amazing, Cannon appealed the rating and, announced on September 12, actually won. And by “won” I assume that means they slipped the M.P.A.A. ratings boards some donations. “Hey, Menahem, what is series of check to Jack Valenti doing on the books?” The insane DEATH WISH 3 wound up delayed by one week and hit over 1400 theaters nationwide on November 1, 1985. Once again, crowds seemed to want to see some street cleaning killing and it debut in the top spot with $5,319,116, beating other new releases such as TO LIVE AND DIE IN L.A. and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2: FREDDY’S REVENGE. It stayed in the number one spot for the next weekend as well, before ending with a haul of $16,119,878. This sequel is significant as it would be the last Bronson flick to debut in the top spot at the U.S. box office. While he would keep making theatrical releases (including two more DEATH WISH sequels), none would get as close to this one in terms of financial gain and incredible violence. So bust out your copy of DEATH WISH 3 and give it another view. Do it for The Giggler.

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