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John Marston

The Lethal Weapon series (1987-1998)

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30 years ago in March 1987 the Lethal Weapon series began with Lethal Weapon. An action movie directed by Richard Donner, produced by Joel Silver, and starring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. The film was a solid hit and made 65m which adjusts to 144m and was one of the top ten grossing films of 1987.

 

 

The sequel came out 2 years later and was clearly expected by WB to be a blockbuster as it received a prime July release date. This film increased massively over the original. Grossing 147m which adjusts to 320m and 227m worldwide and it was the third highest grossing film of 1989 after Batman and Indiana Jones 3. This was a prime example of a film receiving stronger popularity on home video and led to huge anticipation for the sequel. 

 

 

Lethal Weapon 3 came out three years later in May 1992. It was also a huge success and barely decreased from the second domestically with 144m domestic which adjusts to 301m and made over 300m worldwide on a 35m budget. 

 

 

 

then we had the final film in July 1998 which came out six years later. Here is the interesting thing. This movie had a ridiculous budget. 140m!  The film did solid business. 130m which adjusts to about 240m and 285m worldwide. But thanks to this ridiculous budget it pretty much ended the franchise. Shows how much actors salaries really contribute to budgets and how a franchise has to stop thanks to ballooning budgets. 

 

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I'm not sure it was just the LW4 budget. Those were the glory days of HV and I'm sure LW4 (and the whole franchise) made on mint on HV... I think Gibson and Glover were both kinda sick of it and the series felt run into the ground overall. Critical reception also fell off significantly by the time #4 rolled around. 

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13 hours ago, Telerian said:

I'm not sure it was just the LW4 budget. Those were the glory days of HV and I'm sure LW4 (and the whole franchise) made on mint on HV... I think Gibson and Glover were both kinda sick of it and the series felt run into the ground overall. Critical reception also fell off significantly by the time #4 rolled around. 

 

Four wasn't great but it did have Jet Li, and he was awesome in it...but he would have kicked the snot out of Riggs and Murtaugh at the end. :)

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On 3/29/2017 at 0:16 PM, John Marston said:

But thanks to this ridiculous budget it pretty much ended the franchise. Shows how much actors salaries really contribute to budgets and how a franchise has to stop thanks to ballooning budgets. 

 

That what Shane Black said about it, apparently he had started developing a 5th one, in a post 2001 world modern police needed some old-school cops ready to not play by the rules to fight a terrorist threat, kind of scenario. No passage of the torch type of deal to setup new sequels, more a they are really too old for this now.

 

It was cancelled like many Gibson project when he started having professional issues.

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A film series that has been sitting on my shelf not watched but waiting to be for years! 

 

The first film film came out when nothing except Freddy Krueger and a war movie was making most $$$ on the first quarter of 1987. Hell even Freddy tried to beat it with a photo finish opening weekend! So tagging in stars like Mel Gibson who just came off the Mad Max films, and a man who was coming off dramas and seemed an interesting choice after The Color Purple a year or so ago(Danny Glover). The film held on strong, and had great word of mouth and strong holds! 

 

The second one has more success stories as it was released in the summer of 1989! Right up against Batman, and other films. Hell it even massacred 007 for six years! It saw a hefty increase from its predecessor and proved to be strong.

 

number 3, was a successful summer starter even knocking the xenomorphs and skinhead Ripley in Alien 3. Made slightly less than it's predecessor in the states, but made more worldwide! 

 

Number 4, after a 6 year hiatus mixed word of mouth by critics even Siskel & Ebert had it on their worst of '98 list. Audiences were mixed, and wasn't as successful. But in all fairness it made its money back.

 

as a whole franchise, a successful action franchise that also saw success in home video as well with Blockbuster being a successful retailer in the 90's, and DVD. Hell the franchise even had a funny spoof with National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1, and a TV show that has surprisingly done well on FOX. 

Hell even in the movie Cop Land, Stallone's character plays a Lethal Weapon 3 pinball machine! 

 

Although funny enough Lethal Weapon 4 is the most common film I see on DVD at used places for quite cheap.

 

Overall, all in all a successful action franchise. That people remember that didn't piss people off too much later on(I.e. Die Hard).

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