Last night Walter Hill‘s Streets of Fire had its most recent midnight showing at the New Beverly. It’s been 28 years since I’ve seen it. The only thing I remember apart from the ’50s/’80s dichotomy and how Diane Lane and Willem Dafoe looked is the slogan. Not because it’s catchy, but because of how producer Joel Silver spun it when Streets bombed on opening weekend: “Tonight is what it means to be dead.”
That is arguably one of the greatest lines ever spoken by a Hollywood producer about anything, ever. When they write Silver’s obit it will definitely be included within the first five or six graphs.
Streets of Fire‘s budget of $14,500,000 was fairly sizable back then. The rule of tripling your opening weekend gross to break even meant it had to make at least $5 million over its first three days. It made about half that ($2,426,000), and ended up with a grand domestic total of just over $8 million. Obviously a failure but not exactly a staggering or historic one. Nonetheless, Silver’s line (which was reported by John Richardson in a Premiere profile called “The Selznick of Schlock” that ran in the early ’90s) stuck.