Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1994

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 1994
Year
Event and Significance
1994
Turner Broadcasting Systems merged with New Line Cinema and soon was successful with two blockbusters. Both starred popular comedian Jim Carrey: The Mask (1994) and the slapstick Dumb and Dumber (1994). Carrey had started his career as a stand-up comic in Canadian clubs, after which he brought his act to the Wayan Brothers' TV show In Living Color in the early to mid-1990s as the wacky masochistic, accident-prone Fire Marshal Bill. His irrepressible, extroverted rubber-faced character headlined in a trio of films in 1994. Superstar Carrey had also appeared in an earlier third popular hit in the same calendar year: Warners' Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994).
1994
Turner Classic Movies (TCM), a 24-hour commercial-free network for programming classic films (mostly from the combined Turner and Warner Bros. library of film greats), was launched.
1994
Writer/director James Cameron's True Lies (1994), starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Bond-like secret agent, was a spy-adventure packed with special effects, thrills, co-star Jamie Lee Curtis doing a sexy striptease, and an exciting jet and car chase over the Florida Keys. Its production budget eventually totaled $115 million, but it was able to gross $146 million (domestic) and $379 million (worldwide).
1994
Director Jan de Bont's action-thriller hit Speed (1994) starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock became one of the most exhilarating and successful films of its kind. It won two Academy Awards, Best Sound and Best Sound Effects Editing, and was the 8th highest-grossing (domestic) film of the year, at $121 million.
1994
Three of the most powerful, influential and successful individuals in modern Hollywood -- director/producer Steven Spielberg, the recently-departed Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, and film and music industry mogul David Geffen -- formed the film studio DreamWorks SKG. (The SKG stood for the first letter of their last names.) It was the first new major studio in more than 50 years.
1994
The almost three-hour documentary Hoop Dreams (1994) followed the aspirations of two African-American high school students (from Chicago, Illinois) who dreamed to be professional basketball players. Because the exceptional film was not nominated in the category of Best Documentary Feature by the Academy, changes were made in the nominating procedure for future years. It was also the all-time top-grossing documentary film (until Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine (2002)).
1994
Disney's first Broadway musical was Beauty and the Beast, based on its film version of Beauty and the Beast (1991).
1994
Disney became the first studio to gross more than $1 billion at the box office domestically in a single year, mostly due to the release of The Lion King (1994), although Pulp Fiction (1994) and November's The Santa Clause (1994) were also hits. The Lion King was the highest-grossing traditionally (hand-drawn) animated feature film in the US at the time - and in history. It was later surpassed at the box-office by Disney/Pixar's computer-animated Finding Nemo (2003). The Lion King was Disney's first film based upon an in-house original story, rather than upon a well-known children's narrative. Its Hamlet-like story was beautifully animated, enhanced by a Hans Zimmer score, and contained songs by composer Elton John and lyricist Tim Rice.
1994
Disney's successful animated The Lion King (1994), the # 2 highest-grossing (domestic) hit of the year, was among the first feature-length film animations featuring many major stars' voices for its characters. (Previously, there was only one big voice-name, such as Robin Williams as the Genie in Aladdin (1992), or there were unknowns who lent their voices to the characters.) With box-office receipts of over $312 million, this film spurred a boom in animation production and merchandising, and other animation production studios besides Disney entered the picture.
1994
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) had eight theatrical re-releases (1944, 1952, 1958, 1967, 1975, 1983, 1987, and 1993), and then in late 1994, it was finally released on VHS home video (and laser disc) and sold 10 million copies in its first week of sale. After three weeks of availability, it sold over 17 million copies, and would soon surpass the all-time champ, Disney's Aladdin (with 24 million copies sold since its late-1993 release). It eventually sold 50 million copies worldwide, the best-selling cassette of all time. It was the last of the early Disney animated films released for home video, following Pinocchio (1940), Sleeping Beauty (1959), and Cinderella (1950). [Snow White was later released for the first time on DVD, in late 2001.]
1994
Disney's live-action film The Jungle Book (1994) was the first Disney remake of an earlier animated feature film, The Jungle Book (1967).
1994
Best Picture winner Forrest Gump (1994) was the top-grossing (domestic) film of the year, at almost $330 million. It used revolutionary digital photo tricks to insert the film's main character into archival historical footage with past Presidents (John F. Kennedy and LBJ) and other situations. It would encourage the trend of physically inserting actors into old existing footage, making it appear like the characters were interacting with each other. Shortly afterwards, this technique - which expanded to advertising commercials - controversially presented dead stars hawking products (i.e., James Cagney and Louis Armstrong appeared in Diet Coke ads, and John Wayne was in a Coors Light commercial).
1994
Tom Hanks won two consecutive Best Actor awards (presented in ceremonies in 1994 and 1995) for Philadelphia (1993) and for Forrest Gump (1994). He became the fifth performer to win back-to-back acting Oscars, and only the second performer to win consecutive Best Actor Oscars (the first was Spencer Tracy in 1937-1938). Oscar-winning Hanks took a cut of Forrest Gump's profits - reportedly 8% of the gross, which on top of his $20 million salary netted him about $60 million.
1994
Director Oliver Stone's controversial work on the media's exploitative precoccupation with violence by following the path of two serial killers on a murder spree, Natural Born Killers (1994), came under critical fire for its own graphic, on-screen violence.
1994
Kevin Smith's low-budget (about $30,000) comedy Clerks (1994), about two clerks/workers, went into general release after its successes at the Cannes and the Sundance Film Festivals. The cost of obtaining the rights to the soundtrack for the film was greater than the production costs for the entire film - a first in modern cinematic history. Although originally rated NC-17 (mostly because of its raunchy dialogue), it was re-rated as an R after Miramax appealed to the MPAA, and went on to become one of the most popular and successful comedy independent films of all time.
1994
Writer/director and B-movie fanatic Quentin Tarantino delivered the non-formulaic and inventive hit Pulp Fiction (1994) - an 'independent' film distributed by Miramax, that featured guns, femmes fatales, deadly yet talkative hit-men, and drugs. It brought new fame to star John Travolta (in an ensemble cast) and a revolutionary script structure with its three interwoven (and fragmented) stories told in non-linear order. The unpredictably time-shuffled, post-modern film with hip pop references, winner of Cannes' prestigious Palme d'Or, shocked with its hip combination of violence, sex, drugs, and profanity (including 269 F-words).
1994
A Harvard School of Public Health study showed that violence occurred just as frequently in PG, PG-13, and R-rated films. The study was repeated a decade later, illustrating the existence of "ratings-creep", meaning that more risqué and violent scenes were being allowed in films rated G, PG, PG-13 and R than in the past. For example, The Santa Clause (1994) was rated PG, yet it had less sex and nudity, violence, gore and profanity than The Santa Clause 2 (2002), which was rated G.
1994
Ex-wife of former football player and actor/sportscaster O. J. Simpson, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman were stabbed to death in June of 1994 outside Nicole's home in Brentwood, California. Subsequently, Simpson was charged with two counts of murder, but eventually acquitted in November 1995.
1994
The theatrical run of Il Postino (1994) in New York City stretched for almost two years -- it was still in theaters after the video release and its premium cable run.
1994
SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound), a digital sound-on-film format in which the digital information was optically printed in two continuous strips along both edges of the 35 mm. film, was introduced. The revolutionary system avoided the need for separate CD-ROM soundtracks and synchronization codes. SDDS supported increased surround-sound options by offering eight channels of sound.
1994
The TV series Insektors (1994) was the first completely computer-animated cartoon series to be broadcast on television. It told about two warring anthropomorphic tribes of insects (the Joyces vs. the Yuks). It first aired in France, and was then dubbed into English for US and UK television. Its appearance was only a few months before another completely-CG animated cartoon series was aired - the full-length Canadian action-adventure series called ReBoot.
1994
Legendary animator/cartoonist Walter Lantz died at the age of 94. The founder of Walter Lantz Productions, he had created the character of Woody Woodpecker (known for his staccato "huh hah hah HA ha" laugh) in the 1940s, and others including Oswald Rabbit, penguin Chilly Willy and Andy Panda. Lantz received an Honorary Academy Award in 1979 (at the ceremony honoring films of 1978) for "bringing joy and laughter to every part of the world through his unique animated motion pictures." The award was "presented" by Lantz's most famous creation, Woody Woodpecker, using combined live-action and animation.
1994
Iconic film-actor Burt Lancaster, one of the best American actors of all time, died at the age of 80 from a heart attack. His sole Best Actor Academy Award Oscar was for Elmer Gantry (1960), although he was also nominated for From Here to Eternity (1953), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), and Atlantic City (1981). As an independent film producer, he was responsible for films such as Best Picture-winning Marty (1955) and Sweet Smell of Success (1957). His screen debut was in the film noir classic The Killers (1946).


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