Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1988

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
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1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989

The Year 1988
Year
Event and Significance
1988
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) was released -- a coordinated effort produced by Disney, live-action directed by Robert Zemeckis, and animated by Richard Williams. It broke new technological ground with its remarkable blending of animated imagery and live-action human characters. It also brought together for the first time cartoon characters from the Disney and Warners' Studios: Disney's Donald Duck and Warner Bros.' Daffy Duck, and Warner Bros.' Bugs Bunny and Disney's Mickey Mouse.
1988
The Best Picture of the year, Rain Man (1988) was the year's highest-grossing (domestic) film at $172.8 million, surpassing Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) at $156.5 million.
1988
In the popular cult film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (1988), the characters were portrayed by Ken and Barbie style dolls. Because the film used Carpenters' music without authorization, it remained illegal to sell or distribute, and out of circulation (although bootleg copies exist).
1988
Tom Cruise starred in Best Picture-winning Rain Man (1988) and also in Razzie's Worst Picture of the same year, Cocktail (1988).
1988
The first of three The Naked Gun films premiered - director David Zucker's The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988). The other two films were The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991), and Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994). All three slapstick films starred Leslie Nielsen as bumbling police lieutenant Frank Drebin, opposite Priscilla Presley as companion Jane. Football star OJ Simpson also co-starred in all three films as Officer Nordberg, shortly before being accused of the murder of his estranged wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in mid-1994. [The original film was based on ABC-TV's short-lived Police Squad! in 1982, created by Jim Abrahams and brothers Jerry Zucker and David Zucker -- the team that was also responsible for the popular disaster movie spoof Airplane! (1980).]
1988
Bruce Willis' career was catapulted with the release of the action-thriller Die Hard (1988) - the first of a series of films (Die Harder (1990), Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), and Live Free or Die Hard (2007)), and rated as one of the best action films of all time. It was the 7th highest-grossing film of the year, at $83 million. Willis starred as a terrorist-fighting action hero named John McClane, fighting the archetypal villain Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman), and was noted for his infamous line: "Yippee-kai-yay, motherf--ker."
1988
Divine (aka Harris Glenn Milstead), the main actor in many of director John Waters' films, died at the age of 42, of a heart attack. Divine was a penultimate "Drag Queen" and flamboyant female impersonator - as evidenced in two of his controversial and shocking cult films Pink Flamingos (1972) and Female Trouble (1974).
1988
This was the year of one of the longest work stoppages in Hollywood history at the time -- the WGA (Writer's Guild of America) strike of US film and television writers against producers and networks that lasted 22 weeks (from March-August). The costly and crippling strike delayed the start of the fall television schedule.
1988
The landmark Film Preservation Act implemented a plan to allow the federal government to designate 25 films each year as "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant films." In 1989, the National Film Preservation Board began selecting 25 films for entry to a national list of film treasures. The National Film Registry of the Library of Congress was designated as the registry for films that were selected as leading examples of American cinematic art.
1988
Double Oscar nominee Sigourney Weaver was nominated for two simultaneous Academy Awards in 1988 - her second and third career nominations - Best Actress for Gorillas in the Mist (1988), and Best Supporting Actress for Working Girl (1988). She became the first performer in Oscar history to receive simultaneous nominations in two acting categories and lose both awards. Her failing 'accomplishment' was repeated by actress Emma Thompson in 1993.
1988
Director Martin Scorsese's controversial movie The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) opened in nine cities despite objections by some Christians and religious groups who felt the film was sacrilegious. Willem Dafoe portrayed the role of Jesus, who was tempted (in an alternative-reality dream sequence when he escaped crucifixion) by sexual relations, marriage, and a family with prostitute Mary Magdalene (Barbara Hershey).
1988
Pixar's 5-minute Tin Toy (1988), the inspiration for Toy Story (1995), was the first computer animation to win an Academy Award. Billy, the baby character in the short film, marked the first time that a CG character had realistic human qualities.
1988
Digital morphing (the seamless change from one character or image to another) of several animals was first introduced by ILM and debuted in director Ron Howard's live-action fantasy-adventure film Willow (1988).
1988
Sonny Bono, of the Sonny & Cher duo, was elected mayor of Palm Springs, California in April of 1988. He served for a period of 4 years, and was instrumental in establishing the city's annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, begun in 1989.
1988
The popular comedy Big (1988) brought director Penny Marshall recognition as the first female director of a movie that grossed over $100 million. And after directing another $100 million plus film, A League of Their Own (1992), she became the first female director of two movies attaining that milestone.
1988
Two of the biggest stars of the 1990s decade got their start in the late 80s. Tom Hanks earned his first Oscar nomination for the film Big (1988) - it also marked Hanks' first $100 million blockbuster film, with a salary allegedly at $2 million. In the same year, another future star Julia Roberts appeared in the romantic comedy Mystic Pizza (1988) -- it gave Roberts her first Best Actress nomination (in the Independent Spirit Awards), with a salary reported to be $50,000. After being noticed, Roberts starred one year later as the health-declining Shelby in the tearjerker Steel Magnolias (1989) in which she earned her first Oscar nomination. The next year after that, she starred in her breakout film, Pretty Woman (1990).
1988
Kevin Costner starred back-to-back in two classic baseball-themed films: first - as "Crash" Davis in Ron Shelton's minor-league baseball romantic comedy, Bull Durham (1988). It spurred an interest in minor-league baseball. His next year's film was the Best Picture-nominated mystical baseball fantasy, Field of Dreams (1989), in which Costner starred as farmer Ray Kinsella with a baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield. In the next few years, the actor/director played the lead role in two other Best Picture nominees - Dances With Wolves (1990) (which won), and JFK (1991).


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