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Release date: July 2, 1980
Box office: $83.4 million
Why: Inspired by a forgotten B-movie ("Zero Hour") and spoofing the popular "Airport" films -- and disaster movies in general -- "Airplane!" featured a cast of B-listers (Robert Hays and Julie Hagerty) and has-beens (Leslie Nielsen, Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges). It found the filmmaking team of the Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrahams honing the comedic skills first displayed in their sketch comedy film debut "Kentucky Fried Movie, which was a low-budget hit. None of these signs clearly pointed to box office gold, but the scattershot approach of smart sight gags, pop culture references and deadpan humor ("Jim never vomits at home...") had audiences lining up for more. Thirty years later, hastily-assembled spoof "comedies" like "Date Movie" and the upcoming "Starving Games" make you long for the days when Ted Striker had a drinking problem.
-- Dave Lewis