These were the top fall movies of 1977 — how many have you seen?
George Burns and Richard Dreyfuss gave Saturday Night Fever a run for its money.
Looking back at the blockbusters of 1977, you will find both familiar classics and somewhat forgotten films. That's typical of any retrospective of the past, whether you rewind the clock 40 years, 15 or 55.
One thing did stand out to us, however, as we pored over the box office tallies from '77. There were far fewer movie screens in America. Far, far, far fewer. Today, major releases will open on about 3,000 screens around the country. Saturday Night Fever, on the other hand, the biggest movie outside of Star Wars that year, opened on just 726. Heck, the James Bond movie from earlier in the summer, The Spy Who Loved Me, opened in just 194 theaters.
That, plus inflation, puts these dollar tallies in perspective. The following eight flicks were massive. How many have you seen? If you haven't seen them, put them on your to-watch list.
1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Perhaps Spielberg's most personal film, this early masterpiece tapped into both the paranoia and optimism of the era. Star Wars, the top movie of 1977, might have made kids fantasize about becoming a Jedi, but Close Encounters, the No. 2 flick of the year, made them want to learn about space.
Image: Columbia Pictures
2. Saturday Night Fever
The Bee Gees music had everyone gleefully busting moves, but Saturday Night Never, as a film, is rather dark. Originally rated R, the movie was cut down into a PG version for a wider audience, which undoubtedly helped it earn more money. The John Travolta classic finished as the third biggest movie of the year.
3. The Goodbye Girl
Richard Dreyfuss was the undisputed winner of 1977. His everyman electrician Roy Neary was the heart and soul of Close Encounters. This dramatic Neil Simon rom-com, released a few months later, earned him an Academy Award. Featuring the young Quinn Cummings, a familiar face from TV's Family, The Goodbye Girl became the fifth biggest movie of 1977, without any special effects.
Image: Warner Bros.
4. Oh, God!
The 81-year-old George Burns proved to have box-office power with this charming comedy. Carl Reiner directed and John Denver co-starred in the heart-warming tale of a humble supermarket employee chosen as a prophet. The hit spawned two sequels with Burns as the Almighty.
Image: Warner Bros.
Burt Reynolds' titillating pigskin romp was a sleeper hit, ranking just behind Annie Hall as the 13th biggest movie of 1977, raking in more cash than classics like Slap Shot and Freaky Friday. Much of that success was likely just riding in the wake of Smokey and the Bandit, Burt's big hit from the summer. Despite its outward appearances, this professionall football tale was somewhat a satire of the new-age movement.
Image: United Artists
6. Pete's Dragon
Blending live action and animation, this "lesser" Disney movie was considered by many to be a disappointment at the time. Of course, those people were mostly critics and adults. If you were a kid, you probably adored the big green guy. They didn't remake it for nothing.
Image: Walt Disney
7. High Anxiety
Blazing Saddles skewered Westerns, and Spaceballs perfectly spoofed Star Wars, but in between Mel Brooks had a go at Hitchcock. This overlooked comedy parodied thrillers like Psycho, Vertigo and The Birds.
Image: 20th Century Fox
8. Looking for Mr. Goodbar
Sorry, kids, this has nothing to do with chocolate. Diane Keaton starred as a repressed teacher who undergoes an awakening. It's disco soundtrack helped overcome negative reviews, as did a stellar cast including Tuesday Weld, Richard Gere, Tom Berenger, Brian Dennehy, LeVar Burton and more.
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