For, Friday, May 11, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the past dozen years or so comic-book heroes have taken over the lists of top box-office stars. Aside from No. 1 on the latest poll, Dwayne Johnson, each name in the rest of the top 10 list is an actor that stars in a superhero franchise — including the three Chrises — Hemsworth, Pratt and Pine — along with Robert Downey Jr., Gal Gadot, Chadwick Boseman, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Karen Gillan. No surprises there, but will they still be around 35 years from now? Here’s a ‘Hicks on Flicks’ column published on June 3, 1984, under the headline ‘Box office poll contains a few surprises,’ and nearly all of the stars that made the top 10 are still active today.

Who were the top box office attractions of 1983?

If you guessed that Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds were up there as reigning champs again, you guessed correctly. But there are a few surprises this time around –— including Reynolds dropping to fourth place, though not for the reason you might think.

According to the latest poll of theater owners by Quigley Publications, citing those stars who brought in big bucks for movie houses in 1983, Clint Eastwood heads the list … as he often does … thanks this time to the enormous success of his return to the role of Dirty Harry in “Sudden Impact,” the biggest hit of this past Christmas.

Number two is a new kid on the block, however — Eddie Murphy, whose “Trading Places” was a big hit last year, as was “48 HRS.,” which opened the previous Christmas and played well into ’83.


Eastwood and Murphy are not really surprises, though – it’s the rest of the list that is made interesting by a few oddities.

Oddest of all is Sylvester Stallone being in third place. You may recall that Stallone did not appear in a single 1983 film, except for a very brief, silent cameo in “Staying Alive,” which he directed and co-wrote. This may be the first time an actor has appeared on the list despite the absence of a film appearance. But his name may well have been a draw for that film.

Burt Reynolds, who has been king of the poll many times, placed fourth, which would not be at all surprising except that his two 1983 films, “Stroker Ace” and “The Man Who Loved Women,” were major box-office bombs. Yet, to the theater owners he has served so well in the past, it would seem that even when Burt does wrong, he can do no wrong.

Fifth is John Travolta. “Two of a Kind” was no “Grease,” but he scored well at the box office with “Staying Alive,” the sequel to “Saturday Night Fever.”


And number six, Dustin Hoffman, was still reeling from the phenomenal returns “Tootsie” gave box offices well into ’83, even though it came out over Christmas of ’82.

Number seven is Harrison Ford, who was hot with “Return of the Jedi” (look for him to be much higher in the ’84 poll, with “Indiana Jones”), and eight is Richard Gere, who seemed to be a draw, despite abysmal critical response to “Beyond the Limit” and “Breathless.”

Ninth is Chevy Chase, whose “Deal of the Century” was a failure, but whose “National Lampoon’s Vacation” was a big hit. And finally, number 10, Tom Cruise, recognized for profits from three films, “All the Right Moves,” “The Outsiders” and his starmaking hit, “Risky Business.”

Dolly Parton was the only woman on the ’82 list published last year, for her part in bringing customers to see “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.” But in 1983 there were apparently no female stars that theater owners felt brought in the business.

What? No Barbra Streisand for “Yentl”? No Shirley MacLaine for “Terms of Endearment”? Well, those films did not come out until late in ’83. Maybe they’ll make the ’84 list.