Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 1999

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 1999
Year
Event and Significance
1999
The first of three prequels (released from 1999-2005), George Lucas' highly-anticipated Star Wars: Episode I -The Phantom Menace (1999), opened and became the top grossing film of 1999. It made a record $28.5 million in box-office in its first day of showing, and passed the $100 million level in a record five days. It eventually grossed $431 million, and was the top-grossing (domestic) film of the year 1999, besting second-place The Sixth Sense (1999) at $293.5 million. It was the first film with a Dolby Digital Surround EX soundtrack. This film undoubtedly contained more computer animation and special effects than any previous film - over 90%. It also featured a completely CGI-generated (all digital), fully-articulated main humanoid character named Jar Jar Binks (voice of Ahmed Best), a widely-derided aspect of the feature film. It was widely considered one of the worst sequels/prequels of all time. It was re-released in 3D in 2012 with the stated intention (announced in 2010) that all six films in the series would be stereo-converted to 3D. However, future 3D releases were postponed after LucasFilm was bought by The Walt Disney Company for $4 billion in late 2012.
1999
The pseudo-documentary, low-budget (budgeted at about $60,000), media-savvy cult horror film The Blair Witch Project (1999), grossed $140.5 million (domestic) and $249 million (worldwide), making it the most profitable film in Hollywood history (with a record budget/box office ratio). Low-cost Internet advertising (suggesting that the story was true) and video production contributed to its financial success for the small-time distributor (Artisan Films) - making it the first independent blockbuster. The surprise hit and media sensation, a precursor of reality TV, was mostly shot with Hi-8 camcorders and looked like a home-made film with no-name actors.
1999
The World Is Not Enough (1999) was the highest-grossing Bond film (to date), at $126.9 million (domestic) and $361.8 million (worldwide). It was the third of four films with Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. This was the first Bond film in the franchise in which the major super-villain (Sophie Marceau as Elektra King) was a female. She was the first 'Bond girl' to be shot and killed by Bond himself. The Bond film also featured the 17th and final appearance of Desmond Llewelyn as "Q" - the longest-running cast member and character - who retired in the film itself (with an ingenious "escape plan"), and was grooming a "young fellow" (John Cleese, called "R" by Bond) as his successor. He had been in 17 of the 19 films, from 1963 to 1999 (spanning 36 years). He appeared in every film except Dr. No (1962) (the character was named Major Boothroyd and played by Peter Burton) and Live and Let Die (1973). Denise Richards was awarded a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress, for her role as nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones. It was the first Bond film to win a Razzie.
1999
This was the debut year of the popular TiVo device, a personal digital video recorder (PVR or DVR) -- also dubbed a hard-disc recorder (HDR), with the capability of recording movies and episodes of favorite programs, quickly skipping past the commercials and even pausing and rewinding live TV. Within a few years, a broadband-connected TiVo DVR offered a vast library of video-on-demand choices from a who's-who list of online entertainment partners.
1999
Director Sam Mendes' American Beauty (1999) was the Best Picture-winning film. It also won four other major Oscars: Best Actor, Best Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Screenplay. The drama took in $130 million (domestic) in revenue and was the 13th highest-ranked film of the year. It was about a mid-life crisis-suffering suburbanite Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) who was overpowered by his demeaning job, a dysfunctional marriage to his obsessive-compulsive, judgmental, disrespectful realtor wife Carolyn (Annette Bening), and uncommunicative with his self-loathing and confused daughter Jane (Thora Birch). Underaged actress Thora Birch was given parental permission to appear in a short topless scene - the parents and child labor representatives were on the set for the shooting of the scene.
1999
Pokemon: The First Movie (released in Japan in 1998 and in the US in 1999) became the most successful foreign animated film at the box office in US history, at $88.7 million (domestic).
1999
The sequel, Toy Story 2 (1999), far surpassed the 1995 original in terms of the quality of animation, voice acting and script, as the themes from the first film -- obsolescence and loyalty -- were explored even more deeply. It was also a major financial success, and the third highest-ranking film of the year in terms of box-office revenue (at $245.8 million domestic). Randy Newman was Academy Award-nominated for Best Original Song ("When She Loved Me") but lost to Phil Collins' ("You'll Be In My Heart") from Disney's Tarzan (1999). Toy Story 2 and Chicken Run (2000) would influence the Academy to finally take animated films more seriously with the new Best Animated Feature Film category that debuted with Oscar-winning Shrek (2001), another CGI-animated feature.
1999
Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut (1999) was threatened with an NC-17 rating for its most talked-about sequence - an upper-class masked, choreographed orgy function which began with incantations by a high-priest, a circle of cloaked figures, and many naturally-endowed, almost-nude, G-stringed, masked females in an inner circle who were there to ritualistically service the masked men in anonymity and isolation. The sequence included tracking shots of tuxedoed, caped, and masked doctor Harford (Tom Cruise) roaming through the ornate mansion's rooms filled with emotionless, loveless copulating couples (in a 69 sexual position, in a lesbian three-some, and other mechanical stances of intercourse). These scenes were heavily digitally edited (or digitally censored, obscured and obstructed in various releases to prevent an NC-17 rating). In some instances, computer-generated people were placed over explicit sexual images in order to secure the R-rating.
1999
The American Film Institute (AFI) released the first list in its continuing series, 100 Years...100 Stars, to recognize the top 50 Greatest Screen Legends (25 male and 25 female) in American cinematic history. Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn was honored as the top choices.
1999
Paramount's (and MTV's) coming-of-age sports drama Varsity Blues (1999) was about a struggling football team, the Coyotes, in the small (fictional) town of West Canaan, Texas. It starred a number of up-and-coming young performers, including James Van Der Beek (from TV's Dawson Creek, and the winner of MTV's Best Breakout Male Performer and the Teen Choice Awards for the same honor), Fast & Furious' Paul Walker, Amy Smart, Ali Larter, and Scott Caan (star of the recent TV series Hawaii Five-O). Its domestic revenue was $52.9 million, from a production budget of about $16 million. Some of the film became the subject of parody in the teen comedy Not Another Teen Movie (2001).
1999
Director Stanley Kubrick died at the age of 70, four months before the opening of his final film Eyes Wide Shut (1999). He was best known for his science-fiction space classic 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), for which he won his sole Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Other memorable films included the war film Paths of Glory (1957), the Roman slave epic Spartacus (1960), Lolita (1962), the Cold War satire Dr. Strangelove (1964), the violent A Clockwork Orange (1971), Barry Lyndon (1975), the horror film The Shining (1980), and Full Metal Jacket (1987).
1999
David Fincher's dark satire on manhood, Fight Club (1999), was narrated by a nameless corporate office-worker (Edward Norton), a 29 year-old yuppie dissatisfied with his emasculated life who joined a macho, sub-cultural group known as "Fight Club," led by charismatic, anarchic punk and soap salesman Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt). The compelling film, with a twist ending, took in $37 million (domestic) in revenue.
1999
The writing/directing team of the Wachowski Brothers released the hugely-successful, profound and influential sci-fi thriller The Matrix (1999) with amazing action and digital effects sequences. The Matrix (1999) was the fifth highest-grossing (domestic) film of 1999, at $171.5 million. Its popularity led to a trilogy of films: The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003). The first film in the series made reference to prototypical elements of the 21st century high-tech culture, such as hacking and virtual reality, and included bullet-dodging (digital effects dubbed "flow-mo" and "bullet time" - slowed-down rotating action - were created with suspending actors on wires, and filming segments with multiple still cameras from multiple angles), cyber-punk chic, time-freezing, shoot-outs, wall-scaling, virtual backgrounds, and airborne kung fu. These tremendous visual effects were combined with Eastern world-denying philosophy, metaphysical Zen statements, Japanese anime, neo-Cartesian plot twists, film noir, and Lewis Carroll references. Actor Keanu Reeves earned $10 million upfront (reportedly), plus $25 million for his cut of the final gross.
1999
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) was the second of three Mike Myers/Austin Powers films. With a production budget of $33 million, and box-office gross receipts of $206 million (domestic) and $312 million (worldwide), it was a phenomenal hit - the third-highest grossing film of the summer of 1999, and the 4th highest-ranked film (domestic) of the year. Mike Myers portrayed three characters, Austin, Dr. Evil, and Fat Bastard, leading to the film becoming the recipient of MTV Awards for Best On-Screen Duo (Myers as Powers and Mini-Me's Verne Troyer) and Best Villain (Myers).
1999
South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999), an animated comedy feature film and foul-mouthed musical (by producers Trey Parker and Matt Stone) was filled with political satire (and based on the hit TV show South Park). The risk-taking film was originally rated NC-17 (for its profanity and obscenity), and then reduced to an R-rating after being edited down. The notorious film was notable for having the most profanity of any animated film (with 140 F-words).
1999
Writer/director Mike Judge's first live-action film (and second full-length motion picture release following Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996)) was Office Space (1999). Although not a huge financial success, it solidified itself as a cult film (about disgruntled IT workers in a 1990s tech software company), and earned a respectable $10.8 million (domestic).
1999
Writer/director Kevin Smith's Dogma (1999) was the fourth film in his View Askewniverse series, following Clerks (1994), Mallrats (1995), and Chasing Amy (1997). It was controversial for its irreverence toward the Catholic Church and its dogmatic teachings. The story was about two fallen angels, Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck), who threatened to enter a century-old church in New Jersey to return to heaven - and thereby bring about an end to the world. It was up to abortion clinic worker Bethany (Linda Fiorentino), two prophets Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (Kevin Smith), the thirteenth Apostle Rufus (Chris Rock), and the muse Serendipity (Salma Hayek), to stop them.
1999
On April 20, 1999, teenaged gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold used homemade explosives and numerous firearms in an assault on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, killing 12 students and one teacher and wounding at least two dozen others before committing suicide. The deadly school-shooting rampage led to heated debates about violence in films, gun control, and safety/security in the nation's schools.
1999
Director Paul Weitz's wildly popular, raucous teen-sex comedy American Pie (1999) was typical of the late 1990s and brought back raunchiness to this genre of film. The extremely 'guilty pleasure' film was about losing one's virginity on prom night (coming up in three weeks) for four seniors. The main male character was sex-obsessed, awkward, coming-of-age high school senior Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs). Its most notorious scene was the one of horny Jim Levenstein humping the family's fresh-baked hot apple pie on the kitchen counter (viewed from behind, his bare buttocks thrust into the pie) and being caught by his father Noah (Eugene Levy). It took three rounds of censorship cuts to satisfy an R-rating. The film was available in a theatrical R-rated version and in an "Unrated version" - The Version You Couldn't See in Theatres - for the home video and DVD markets with additional footage -- this was becoming a burgeoning marketing trend. There were many official (and unofficial) sequels, with some of the same cast of libidinous high-schoolers, stretching from 1999 to 2012.
1999
M. Night Shyamalan's ghost story and psychological thriller The Sixth Sense (1999) - with the catchphrase: "I see dead people" - was the director's first major film with his trademark plot-shifting twist revealed by the film's conclusion - and it came to be known as the "Shyamalan twist." Star Bruce Willis reportedly earned up to $100 million (including both his salary, and a percentage of ticket and video sales). The horror film's financial success placed it as the 2nd highest-earning (domestic) film of the year, with $293.5 million.
1999
The longest Oscars awards ceremony ever held was this year's March 21, 1999 ABC-TV broadcast, at 4 hours and 2 minutes. It was the 71st annual Academy Awards show, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. It also marked the first time that the ceremony was held on a Sunday.
1999
The popular and influential film review TV show Siskel & Ebert lasted until 1999, when 53 year-old Gene Siskel died from a brain tumor on February 20, 1999, and the show was renamed Roger Ebert & the Movies for one year. After 1999, the show featured a rotating series of guest critics, including Elvis Mitchell, Kenneth Turan and Janet Maslin. In the year 2000, after a long try-out period of guest critics, Ebert chose fellow Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper as his permanent co-host, for a show retitled Ebert & Roeper and the Movies, shortened in 2001 to Ebert & Roeper.
Decade
According to Film Facts, the busiest Hollywood actor during the decade of the 1990s was Samuel L. Jackson with 36 films. Whoopi Goldberg headed the female list with 29 films.


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