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Flicks Flashback:‘Varsity Blues’ scores a touchdown 15 years ago this weekend

This weekend millions of people are expected to tune into see which teams will advance to this year’s Super Bowl, but America’s fascination with football doesn’t stop with the game itself. Football movies are an integral part of popular culture and audiences love heading to the theater to see those types of stories played out.

"Varsity Blues" opened 15 years ago this weekend

15 years ago, one of those such films unspooled in theaters and left a major impact on moviegoers and helped to continue the legacy of many young stars, including one who sadly passed away in 2013.

Varsity Blues
Original Release Date: January 14, 1999
The Line (in millions) – Budget: $16, Opening: $17.5, Total: $52, Worldwide: $54

“Varsity Blues” focused on a group of Texas football players who have to regroup after their star quarterback goes down with an injury. It’s bittersweet to go back and revisit the movie fifteen years later given that the quarterback in question was played by the late Paul Walker. The affable actor started his career in a number of iconic teen films including “The Skulls” and “She’s All That.”

Backing up Walker in the movie was “Dawson Creek” star James Van Der Beek, who as fans remember, had an unorthodox style to the game. Then again all fans may really remember is that he turned down Ali Larter wearing a whipped cream bikini (see above clip).

Either way, while the movie remains a cult classic, it was still only a minor financial hit. Made for $16 million, it surprised everyone when it broke even with its opening haul and then turned a small profit. Remember though this was 1999 standards, which translated to today would have been a bigger deal. Still, it’s one of those movies that for a certain generation was a big deal and rightfully so.

Flicks Facts:

-Ali Later made her film debut in “Varsity Blues” and it was memorable one at that! The actress’ big scene involved her appearing in a very memorable “whipped cream” bikini, however the whipped cream was actually shaving cream, because the whipped cream wouldn’t stay on.

-The iconic blue Ford featured on the movie’s poster was never actually used in the movie.

-James Van Der Beek’s character wears #4, the same number as Van Der Beek’s gridiron favorite: Brett Farve.

Other Notable Milestones

1 Year Ago
Original Release Date: January 16, 2013
The Line (in millions) – Budget: $15, Opening: $28.1, Total: $71.5, Worldwide: $147.8

Horror films continued to dominate the box office as “Zero Dark Thirty’s” Jessica Chastain and “Game of Thrones” Nikolaj Coster-Waldau climbed to the top of the box office with “Mama.” The movie was the first of three consecutive films of the same genre to lead the charts.

5 Years Ago
Paul Blart: Mall Cop
Original Release Date: January 16, 2009
The Line (in millions) – Budget: $26, Opening: $31.8, Total: $146.3, Worldwide: $185.9

Everybody made fun of Kevin James for taking the lead role in the family comedy “Paul Blart: Mall Cop,” but it was the talented comedian who had the last laugh. “Blart” dominated its opening weekend and became of 2009’s top performers. It also helped solidify James as a bankable leading man.

10 Years Ago
Along Came Polly
Original Release Date: January 16, 2004
The Line (in millions) – Budget: $42, Opening: $32.4, Total: $87.8, Worldwide: $173

At some point in guy’s life they dated a “Polly.” This is a person who marches to their own beat, no matter how “off” it may seem to everybody else. Brought to life by Jennifer Aniston, the character clicked with audiences and the film became a mild hit. While it didn’t completely like the box office on fire, it did enough to become a cult classic that has earned a solid second life on cable.

20 Years Ago
Iron Will
Original Release Date: January 15, 1994
The Line (in millions) – Budget: NA, Opening: $5.3, Total: $21, Worldwide: NA

Disney has a history of “feel-good” sports story that are based (at least in part) on a true story. “Iron Will” was one of those and centered a teen who enters a dogsled competition to help support his family. While the film was fronted by Mackenzie Astin, it may also be remembered as featuring another actor who would eventually go on to be a two-time Oscar winner; “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey. Kind of cool right?

Next week: A trio of sci-fi movies celebrate big years

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