Basic Instinct grossed 352 million dollars worldwide. It’s hard to imagine a film like that ever making that kind of movie in today’s market. It was not “big” film. Take out all the controversies, the sex, the nudity, the unfortunate scene of Michael Douglas walking away butt naked, which left many unfortunate individuals suffering from hysterical blindness, not to mention nausea, and you have a traditional film-noir, set to a modern beat. Not to mention the fact that it was a success. You could probably count on one hand the number of films that made that much money that had the amount of nudity in it that Basic Instinct did. Wikipedia notes that the film “has been recognized for its groundbreaking depictions of sexuality in mainstream cinema.”
The interesting thing is that except for Michael Douglas, who could survive a nuclear blast or rogue agents placing cancerous cells in his date’s vaginas, none of the other people associated with the film ever really followed up Basic Instinct to any large degree. Sure, Joe Eszterhas offered up the epics Sliver and Showgirls, both of which should be given their proper due, but neither were box office successes. Sharon Stone, for her part, has turned in a respectable career but never has again reached the stratospheric heights that she did with Basic Instinct.
So, what is it that charmed audiences so much? It is hard to fathom, even though I was a 16yr old boy with a newly found fascination with girls, how a film with the ingredients that Basic Instinct had could be such a phenomenal hit. Have we really gone that conservative as a society that a movie like that could never happen again? Has technology changed the way movies are thought about? The advances haven’t really made movies easier to make. In fact, the opposite has happened. It has laden movies, bogged them down interminably. Movies have become less personal and the humanity that adds the intense sexuality that courses through Basic Instinct’s veins is largely dormant. People get off vicariously through their laptop or their twitter account rather than the intensity that comes when two people have a intense kinetic interaction.
In the end, Basic Instinct may be the product of a bygone era, never to be seen again. I think it might have been termed the Clinton era, just before we knew a second Bush even existed. Take a good look…
Remember back to the time when a girl not wearing underwear uncrossing her legs was hot.