Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1990

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s
1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999

The Year 1990
Year
Event and Significance
1990
Director Pedro Almodóvar's offbeat black comedy Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990) was the last film to receive the MPAA's X-rating due to its depiction of forced bondage and rape - however, it was re-rated and released as an NC-17 film.
1990
Universal Pictures' and director Philip Kaufman's adult-oriented film Henry & June (1990) prompted a change in the ratings system. It was the first film given an NC-17 rating instead of an X-rating. The name of the 'X' category was changed to a new name or ratings category - NC-17. The MPAA introduced the NC-17 (not for children 17 or under) rating to differentiate MPAA-rated 'adult-oriented' films from hard-core pornographic movies rated X. The effort basically failed because many newspapers and TV still refused the ads for NC-17 rated films and theatres wouldn't show the films. In financial terms, an NC-17 rating amounted to an implicit kiss of death. Film critic Roger Ebert criticized the new ratings - he viewed them as meaningless standards, and felt that they denigrated the artistic integrity of many films - and forced film-makers to adjust to the ratings standard. Many film producers were forced to self-release their films as unrated (to bypass the stigma), and self-promote using flyers and alternative publications. Other film-makers were forced to add PG content to basically G-rated films, in order to secure larger audiences.
1990
Garry Marshall's (and Disney's - Buena Vista/Touchstone) modern-day, unlikely fairy-tale (fantasy) romance Pretty Woman (1990) was an unexpected blockbuster (eventually earning $463.4 million worldwide, and $178.4 million domestic). It starred rising actress Julia Roberts as a Hollywood streetwalker with a heart-of-gold turned Cinderella opposite Richard Gere as her sugar-daddy. This was the film that made Julia Roberts a mega-star of numerous romantic comedies, and signaled her rise as Hollywood's leading and most powerful (and well-paid) actress. Before becoming one of the most popular American actresses of all time, toothy-smiled Julia Roberts had first appeared in minor film roles in 1988 such as Mystic Pizza and Satisfaction.
1990
Johnny Depp's breakout hit film was Tim Burton's fantasy romance Edward Scissorhands (1990), co-starring then-girlfriend Winona Ryder, and featuring the final film appearance of Vincent Price as his Inventor/father.
1990
Actor Kevin Costner's directing debut of the revisionist western, Dances with Wolves (1990) was an unexpectedly huge success (at $184.2 million) -- it won seven Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Writing, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Music, and Best Sound) from its twelve nominations. It was the first Best Picture-winning western since Cimarron (1930/31) -- sixty years earlier. However, it wasn't the top box-office domestic film of the year, trailing behind Home Alone (1990) and Ghost (1990).
1990
The entertainment theme park Universal Studios Florida opened to the public on June 7, 1990, to showcase television and the movies through rides, tours, attractions, and shows. Its older sister facility was the first one built, Universal Studios Hollywood, in 1964.
1990
Although the merger was announced in 1989, the merger was finally completed in 1990, when Warner Communications and Time Inc. formed Time/Warner, the largest communications merger to date, at a cost of $14 billion.
1990
Time Warner's New Line Cinema founded a specialty art house division named Fine Line Features. It would go on to produce or distribute movies such as Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho (1991), The Rapture (1991), Robert Altman's The Player (1992), Roman Polanski's Bitter Moon (1992), Hoop Dreams (1994), and David Cronenberg's Crash (1996).
1990
Rob Reiner's Misery (1990), derived from horror meister Stephen King's 1974 novel, won an Academy Award for its lead actress Kathy Bates, the first acting Oscar awarded to a horror film since the Best Actor award given to Fredric March for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931/32).
1990
Director/actor Warren Beatty's big-budget Dick Tracy (1990), derived from Chester Gould's original comic strip and lots of 1940s B-movies, was noted as being the first 35 mm feature film made with a digital soundtrack. For authenticity, it also restricted itself to the six main printing colors from the original newspaper strip: red, blue, yellow, green, orange, and purple, plus black and white.
1990
Martin Scorsese's mob crime classic GoodFellas (1990), a biography of mobster Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), was a grittier take on Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather films, and the precursor to the popular 1999 cable TV series The Sopranos. It was a follow-up film to Scorsese's own Mean Streets (1973), and for the sixth time again reteamed the director with his favorite actor, Robert De Niro, who had appeared in Mean Streets (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), New York, New York (1977), Raging Bull (1980), and The King of Comedy (1983).
1990
Scriptwriter Joe Eszterhas sold his script for the erotic thriller Basic Instinct (1992) to Carolco Pictures for a record $3 million.
1990
Sixteen years following the second part of the Godfather saga, The Godfather, Part III (1990) an epilogue by director Francis Ford Coppola premiered, again starring Al Pacino as aging Mafia family head Don Michael Corleone. It was honored with seven Academy Awards nominations (including the first for cinematographer Gordon Willis in this trilogy) but zero Oscars.
1990
The Japanese electronics corporation Matsushita purchased MCA Universal, the parent company of Universal Pictures, for $6.1 billion.
1990
The first interactive entertainment on CD-ROM for adults was the game Virtual Valerie, first released by Reactor, Inc. (a Chicago-based company founded by comic artist Mike Saenz) in 1989.
1990
In between his two Terminator films (in 1984 and 1991), action star Arnold Schwarzenegger was featured in director Paul Verhoeven's excessively violent science-fiction film Total Recall (1990), where he solidified his persona as a muscle-bound, heavily-accented quipster (i.e.,"Consider that a divorce!"). By 2003, Arnie would become California's "Governator."
1990
Disney's The Rescuers Down Under (1990), the studio's very first, theatrically-released animated sequel, was a noteworthy animated feature film for two other milestones. It was the first 100% completely-digital feature film ever produced and released - it included impressive flight-aerial action sequences using rotoscoping and multi-plane cameras -- especially in the scene of Cody (voice of (Adam Ryen) setting free and riding the magnificent golden eagle Marahute. It was also the first animated feature fully using CAPS (Computer Animation Production System) - the first digital (or computerized) ink-and-paint system (developed by Disney and Pixar), to color the film with computerized ink and paint (not using acetate cels or traditional paint).
1990
Director Chris Columbus' Home Alone (1990), with a screenplay by producer John Hughes, opened and became a box-office hit (the highest-grossing film of its year at $285.7 million), and a star-making film for young Macaulay Culkin (in the role of abandoned Kevin McAllister). It was followed by two less popular sequels in 1992 and 1997, and a TV movie in 2002. As of 2011, it was still the #1 genre film (for a holiday-Christmas setting).
1990
The second highest-grossing (domestic) film of the year was director Jerry Zucker's popular romantic drama/fantasy Ghost (1990) - at $217.6 million. It has been most remembered for its pottery wheel scene, its pairing of Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, and Whoopi Goldberg's Oscar win (her first) for Best Supporting Actress for her role as psychic con Oda Mae.
1990
A Usenet newsgroup online database for movie buffs, rec.arts.movies was launched on October 17, 1990, and in 1996 was renamed the Internet Movie DataBase, located at www.imdb.com, and then acquired by Amazon.com in 1998.
1990
Actress Barbara Stanwyck died at the age of 82, of heart failure. Some of her best-known films included Stella Dallas (1937), The Lady Eve (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), and Sorry Wrong Number (1948). She received four Academy Award Best Actress nominations during her career but never won -- for Stella Dallas (1937), Ball of Fire (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), and Sorry Wrong Number (1948). In her latter years in the late 60s, she became a TV star as a matriarch in ABC-TV's The Big Valley.
1990
American puppeteer Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets (seen on the children's TV show Sesame Street, on the syndicated TV show The Muppet Show in the late 70s, and in the Muppets' first theatrical film The Muppet Movie (1979) and The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)), died unexpectedly in NYC on May 16, 1990 at the age of 53 from toxic shock syndrome after a sudden illness. He had also made the films The Dark Crystal (1982) and Labyrinth (1986), and had been the voice of Kermit the frog.
1990
Entertainer/dancer Sammy Davis, Jr. died at the age of 64, of throat cancer. The song/dance man was part of Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack, appearing both onstage and in films such as the original Ocean's Eleven (1960) with Sinatra and Dean Martin. He was best known as the singer of the popular 1972 hit song "The Candy Man" and as a Las Vegas star.
1990
Silent and early talkie film star, enigmatic Swedish-born Greta Garbo, reclusive after her retirement at the age of 36 (in 1941), died at the age of 84. Her best-known films included Flesh and the Devil (1926), Anna Christie (1930) - taglined "Garbo Talks!" in which she spoke her first words, Grand Hotel (1932) - in which she uttered her famous line: "I want to be alone," Mata Hari (1932), Queen Christina (1933), Anna Karenina (1935), Camille (1936), and Ninotchka (1939). Although she had a highly-publicized romance with co-star John Gilbert, they never married.
1990
The national average ticket price for theatre admission was $4.22, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO).


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