×

Yeah, Baby! ‘Austin Powers’ Shagged Its Way to Theaters 20 Years Ago

When “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” opened May 2, 1997, Variety described it as an “odd mix of sophisticated and lowbrow humor” but was enthused about the Mike Myers-Jay Roach collaboration. The film had cost less than $20 million so it was profitable with a modest $67 million worldwide. There was no deal in place for a sequel, but New Line execs noticed the comedy was a huge hit in home video and on cable. When the studio greenlit a sequel, many rival execs were surprised: They were still defining success solely by domestic box office.

Boosted by massive marketing tie-ins, 1999’s “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” saw a spectacular domestic opening weekend of $55 million and completed its global run with $312 million. “Austin Powers in Goldmember” (2002) scored $296 million worldwide. After many years, rumors persist that a fourth edition is imminent. As Powers himself would say, “Yeah, baby!”

The nothing-is-sacred philosophy was one reason for the films’ success, but it also applied to other aspects of the trilogy — including marketing. When the second “Austin Powers” movie opened in summer 1999, movie fans were feverish about the opening of “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” since it had been nearly 20 years since a new “Star Wars” film had appeared. Rather than compete, the New Line team made a joke of it, opening “Spy Who Shagged Me” with a teaser trailer that included the line, “If you see one movie this summer, see ‘Star Wars.’ But if you see two movies, see ‘Austin Powers.’ ”

Myers, who created the characters, scripted all three  (with Michael McCullers also sharing credit on Nos. 2 and 3). Since then, he went on to huge success as the voice of Shrek, and has the movie “Del” upcoming. Director Roach brought his love of absurdity to the HBO based-on-fact “Recount” and “Game Change,” and more recently directed “Trumbo” and “All the Way.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Yoji Yamada-directed film is to open

    Tokyo Market: Shochiku Launches Horror, Comedy and Mystery Lineup

    Major Japanese studio, Shochiku has the honor of leading off next week’s Tokyo International Film Festival with its “Tora-san, Wish You Were Here.” The film is a revival of a beloved in-house drama franchise, directed by veteran Yoji Yamada, that is set as the event’s opening night gala presentation. Before that, the company has the [...]

  • The Truth

    Singapore Festival to Focus on Asian Excellence for 30th Edition

    For its 30th edition the Singapore International Film Festival has avoided programming novelty and instead focused on assembling excellence – mostly indie titles — from Asia and further afield. The festival, which previously announced local filmmaker Anthony Chen’s second feature “Wet Season” as its opening night gala presentation, announced the balance of its programming on [...]

  • Isabela Moner Dora the Explorer

    Film News Roundup: Isabela Merced Boards Jason Momoa's 'Sweet Girl' for Netflix

    In today’s film news roundup, Isabela Merced get cast opposite Jason Momoa, “Starbright” gets financing and AFM announces its speakers. CASTING Isabela Merced, formerly Isabela Moner, has come on board to portray the daughter of Jason Momoa in his upcoming revenge thriller “Sweet Girl” for Netflix. Momoa will play a devastated man who vows to [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Seeks to Throw Out Gender Pay Gap Lawsuit

    The Walt Disney Co. is seeking to throw out a lawsuit alleging that women employees are paid less than men, arguing that the suit is too sprawling and unwieldy to handle as a class action. Andrus Anderson LLP filed the suit in April, alleging that Disney’s hiring and pay practices have a discriminatory effect on [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari

    Christian Bale, Matt Damon to Campaign in Lead Actor Category for 'Ford v Ferrari'

    Christian Bale and Matt Damon will both campaign in the lead actor category for awards for their work in Fox’s upcoming “Ford v Ferrari,” Variety has learned. “Ford v Ferrari” follows an eccentric, determined team of American engineers and designers, led by automotive visionary Carroll Shelby (Damon) and his British driver, Ken Miles (Bale), who [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content