80s Movies

80s movies continued the 70s quest for blockbuster hits, but produced few if any classic films. Lead by producers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, the industry targeted a younger viewing audience - a lot of them Jonesers - for the type of special effects movies proven successful in the 70s. The Empire Strikes Back ('80), Raiders of the Lost Ark ('81), ET--The Extra Terrestrial ('82), and Return of the Jedi ('83) are prime examples, along with Romancing the Stone ('84), Ghostbusters ('84) and Back to the Future ('85) plus sequels.

80s movies went big business amid concerns for soaring production costs and stagnant ticket prices. Blockbuster productions were not without costs, due in large part to expensive special effects technology, major marketing blitzes and increasingly higher salary demands from box office stars. As a result, major studios such as United Artists, MGM, 20th Century Fox, Columbia, Paramount and MCA/Universal either merged and/or were acquired by other business conglomerates to become their entertainment divisions.

The advent of video tape and VCR's impacted the industry as well. VCR's reached affordable levels for most consumers by the end of the 80s, allowing movie watchers to record, buy or rent their favorites and watch them at home instead of in theaters. Selling movies on tape gave studios an additional revenue stream, particularly for movies that didn't necessarily do well at the box office but became subsequent rental hits for home viewers (aka "cult classics").

80s movies also reflected political themes from the decade. During his two terms in office, former movie star turned US President Ronald Reagan took a hard line approach towards the Soviet Union, a style directly reflected in action-adventure movies with hard-nosed heroes like Sylvester Stallone (Rocky, Rambo), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood, Chuck Norris, Steven Segal, et al.

80s Movies - Some Favorites

Again, while the decade didn't necessarily produce any classic films, the following were considered favorites among most viewers:

  • Urban Cowboy ('80) - John Travolta, Debra Winger
  • Blue Lagoon ('80) -- Brooke Shields
  • Prom Night ('80) - Jamie Lee Curtis
  • Airplane ('80) - Robert Hays
  • Foxes ('80) - Jodie Foster, Scott Baio
  • The Elephant Man ('80) - John Hurt
  • Fame ('80) - Irene Cara
  • Chariots of Fire ('81) - Ben Cross
  • Raiders of the Lost Ark ('81) - Harrison Ford
  • Caddyshack ('81) - Bill Murray
  • Taps ('81) - Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn, Tom Cruise
  • Arthur ('81) - Dudley Moore
  • Tootsie ('82) - Dustin Hoffman
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High ('82) - Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Phoebe Cates, Judge Reinhold
  • Officer and a Gentleman ('82) - Richard Gere, Debra Winger
  • Flashdance ('83) - Jennifer Beals, Cynthia Rhodes
  • The Big Chill ('83) - Kevin Kline
  • Class ('83) - Andrew McCarthy, Rob Lowe
  • Terms of Endearment ('83) - Debra Winger
  • Bachelor Party ('84) - Tom Hanks, Tawny Kitaen
  • Blame It on Rio ('84) - Demi Moore
  • Ghostbusters ('84) - Dan Aykroyd
  • Splash ('84) - Tom Hanks,Daryl Hannah, John Candy
  • The Color Purple ('85) - Danny Glover
  • Footloose ('84) - Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Sarah Jessica Parker
  • Stand By Me ('86) - River Phoenix
  • Broadcast News ('87) - Holly Hunter, Joan Cusack
  • Wall Street ('87) - Charlie Sheen, Daryl Hannah
  • Big ('88) - Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins
  • The Last Temptation of Christ ('88)- Willem Dafoe
  • Cocktail ('88) - Tom Cruise, Elizabeth Shue
    • Working Girl ('88) - Melanie Griffith, Joan Cusack
    • Rain Man ('88) - Dustin Hoffman
    • When Harry Met Sally ('89) - Meg Ryan
    • Driving Miss Daisy ('89) - Morgan Freeman
    • Field of Dreams ('89) - Kevin Costner


    The "Best" Movies of the 1980's

    Choosing the "best" of anything depends upon the criteria chosen, but Hollywood movie critics and historians generally rank the following films highly on most lists as worthwhile and absolute "must sees" (note that a "best" film wasn't picked for some years):

  • 1980 - The Empire Strikes Back
  • 1980 - Raging Bull
  • 1981 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • 1982 - Blade Runner
  • 1982 - E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial
  • 1982 - Tootsie
  • 1984 - The Terminator
  • 1985 - Brazil
  • 1986 - Blue Velvet
  • 1986 - Platoon
  • 1986 - A Room With a View

  • 80s Movies - Top Grossing Films by Year:

    The more traditional measure of popularity - the film grossing the most revenue at the box office by year:

    • 1980 - Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back
    • 1981 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
    • 1982 - E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial
    • 1983 - Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi
    • 1984 - Beverly Hills Cop
    • 1985 - Back to the Future
    • 1986 - Top Gun
    • 1987 - Three Men and a Baby
    • 1988 - Rain Man
    • 1989 - Batman


    Return from 80s Movies to Generation Jones

    Return from 80s Movies to Baby Boomers R We