We’ll start with the bomb: one of the most undeserved financial disasters in recent years. Created by an indifferent marketing campaign that didn’t know what the hell to do with it and undone by a budget that needed the right kind of promotion to recoup, John Carter initially sank like a stone at the box office but has since undergone a bit of a renaissance and today enjoys at least a minor cult following from fans who get what it was trying to do. It opened today in 2012.
The other movies marking today were all big hits, starting with Splash, which opened today in 1984. Mermaid movies can be a tough sell (with a certain animated exception), but Ron Howard found the right romantic vibe to deliver an adult take on this literal fish out of water story, as well as making big stars out of Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah.
If stammering Englishmen are your thing, there’s Four Weddings and a Funeral, which opened ten years later and elevated Hugh Grant to the stratosphere… allowing us to all be appropriately appalled when he was arrested for soliciting a prostitute one year later. Among its many delights, the film also stands as a living example of the Groom Go Kaboom Rule: no wedding in movie history has ever gone off according to plan.
Finally, those in need of some proto-fascist comfort food in the face of our Orwellian nightmare to come can revisit Zack Snyder’s 300… which made a star out of Gerard Butler and engaged in some delightfully noisy green-screen fun right as the Bush administration started to come unraveled. I confess I love it despite its political subtext and if you don’t mind your pleasures of the supremely guilty variety, it’s up there with the original Death Wish. It opened today in 2007.