What Jim Carrey Accomplished In 1994 May Never Be Repeated

Jim Carrey’s first movie is a little classic called Copper Mountain. It’s about two friends who go to a Colorado ski resort. Carrey plays a womanizer, while Alan Thicke just wants to hit the doggone slopes. It came out in 1983; 11 years later, Carrey would supplant Mr. Seaver as the world’s most famous Canadian comedian (SORRY, Tom Green). In 1994 alone, Carrey starred in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber, three comedies that children of a certain generation will hail as all-time classics. Carrey would have other super-successful years (1995, Batman Forever and Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls; 2000, Me, Myself, & Irene and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas; 2004, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events; 2013, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and Kick-Ass 2, I guess), but it’s hard to top this.

A film-by-film breakdown of his 1994:

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective first hit #1 on February 6th, then repeated the feat in three non-consecutive weekends (Steven Seagal’s On Deadly Ground is what prevented the sweep). Not adjusted for inflation, it cost $15 million to film and made $107 million worldwide.

The Mask topped the box office chart on July 31st, an impressive feat considering it was competing against The Lion King, Forrest Gump, and Black Beauty. It made its $23 million budget back many times over, with $351 million worth of people paying to go chick-chicky-boom wit Cuban Pete.

-Meanwhile, Dumb and Dumber, which Box Office Mojo tells me is the fifth highest “slacker/stoner” movie of all-time, closed out the year as the number-one film for three straight weeks, collecting $247 million on a $17 million budget, or less than Jim Carrey’s salary for The Cable Guy alone.

Here are some other very famous actors and actresses who, since 1990, have had at least two top grossing films in the same 12 months (not including voiceover roles).

Catherine O’Hara, 1990

Dick Tracy and Home Alone

Joe Pesci, 1990

Goodfellas and Home Alone

Robin Williams, 1991

Dead Again, The Fisher King, and Hook

Robert De Niro, 1991

Backdraft and Cape Fear

Joe Pesci, 1992

Lethal Weapon 3 and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York

Wesley Snipes, 1992

White Men Can’t Jump and Passenger 57

Sylvester Stallone, 1993

Cliffhanger and Demolition Man

Chris Farley, 1995

Billy Madison and Tommy Boy

Dan Aykroyd, 1995

Casper and Tommy Boy

Tom Cruise, 1996

Mission: Impossible and Jerry Maguire

Nicolas Cage, 1997

Con Air and Face/Off

Gary Oldman, 1997

The Fifth Element and Air Force One

Tom Hanks, 1998

Saving Private Ryan and You’ve Got Mail

Liam Neeson, 1999

The Haunting and Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Julia Roberts, 2001

The Mexican and Ocean’s Eleven

Gene Hackman, 2001

Heartbreakers and The Mexican

Mel Gibson, 2002

Signs and We Were Soldiers

Keanu Reeves, 2003

The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions

Johnny Depp, 2003

Once Upon a Time In Mexico and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Dustin Hoffman, 2004

Meet the Fockers and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events

Gary Oldman, 2005

Batman Begins and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Hugh Jackman, 2006

The Prestige and X-Men: The Last Stand

Nicolas Cage, 2007

Ghost Rider and National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Matt Damon, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum and Ocean’s Thirteen

Robert Downey, Jr., 2008

Iron Man and Tropic Thunder

Sandra Bullock, 2009

The Proposal and The Blind Side

Woody Harrelson, 2009

2012 and Zombieland

Leonardo DiCaprio, 2010

Shutter Island and Inception

Robert De Niro, 2011

Limitless and New Year’s Eve

Kristen Stewart, 2012

Snow White and the Huntsman and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2

Channing Tatum, 2012

The Vow and 21 Jump Street

Jeremy Renner, 2012

The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy

Mark Wahlberg, 2012

Contraband and Ted

Liam Neeson, 2012

The Grey, The Dark Knight Rises, and Taken 2

Jessica Chastain, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty and Mama

Harrison Ford, 2013

42 and Ender’s Game

Dwayne Johnson, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Pain and Gain, and Fast & Furious 6

Kevin Hart, 2014

Ride Along and Think Like a Man Too

Shailene Woodley, 2014

Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars

Scarlett Johansson, 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Lucy

Mark Wahlberg, 2014

Lone Survivor and Transformers: Age of Extinction

That list is in no way definitive, and I’m sure there’s some character actor who was in Transformers, Harry Potter, Twilight, and Fast Five, but you get the idea: of the many famous faces above, only three have had a trio of number one movies in the same year. That would be Robin Williams, Liam Neeson, and Dwayne Johnson. What they achieved is remarkable, no question, BUT Neeson and Johnson were aided by starring in established franchises and sequels, while Williams’ part in Dead Again is fairly small; no one went to see that movie because of him. Unlike Ace, The Mask (which was based on a comic, but I doubt most people knew that; plus, comic movies weren’t a sure thing then like they are now), and Dumb and Dumber, all of which raked in millions because audiences couldn’t get enough Jim Carrey.

Movie theaters today are dominated by superhero movies and sequels. It’s unlikely, though not impossible (Kevin Hart’s 2014 came close), that we’ll see three comedies starring the same actor top the box office charts in a year. At least until Carrey makes Dumb and Dumber Tres, Ace 3, and The Mask 2.