1988 Movies

We present to you our expansive Plex database for the films of 1988. This valuable resource offers comprehensive links to many films from that year. We've ensured ease of use and precision in our listings, facilitating your exploration. It's not just a collection; it's our dedication to maintaining the legacy of 1988's cinema.
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The Best Movies of 1988

As we take a step back in time, we discover a year filled with fantastic cinema. In 1988, a selection of exceptional films graced the silver screen. The following sections will discuss some of the most successful movies released during this year, listed unranked, honoring their influence and impact on cinema.

Young Guns

An engaging Western film, Young Guns, features an all-star cast, including Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, and Kiefer Sutherland. Directed by Christopher Cain, the film presents the story of Billy the Kid, a notorious outlaw from the 19th century. Young Guns stands out for its engaging action, tense scenes, and distinctive soundtrack.

Rain Man

A drama with profound messages, Rain Man is a story of brotherhood and understanding. Starring Dustin Hoffman as an autistic individual and Tom Cruise as his brother, this film remains etched in viewers' minds for its heartfelt dialogue, beautiful cinematography, and exceptional performances.

Child's Play

Breaking boundaries in the horror genre, Child's Play introduced the notorious character of Chucky, a killer doll that became a cultural icon. With a compelling mixture of dark humor and gory violence, the film pushed the limits of monster movies.

Rambo III

The concluding part of the Rambo trilogy, Rambo III, starring Sylvester Stallone, is notable for its high-budget action scenes. The film, focusing on John Rambo aiding Afghanistan's rebels, is quite engaging.

Die Hard

Die Hard is an action thriller that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats. It features Bruce Willis as an everyday police officer who unexpectedly becomes a hero. The film's strength lies in its suspenseful scenes and Willis's portrayal of a resourceful protagonist who relies on his environment rather than sheer strength.


Big, starring Tom Hanks, is a family-friendly comedy that explores the perils and joys of adulthood through a unique premise. The film's highlight is Hanks' performance, convincingly portraying the innocence and awkwardness of a 12-year-old trapped in an adult's body.

Shoot to Kill

Shoot to Kill is a compelling action film featuring Sidney Potier and Tom Berenger as an unlikely duo on a mission to apprehend a relentless killer. The film stands out for its captivating portrayal of conflicting personalities cooperating to uphold justice.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? revolutionized cinema with its novel combination of live-action and animation. It narrates an intriguing murder mystery involving humans and animated characters, standing out for its inventive story, special effects, and exceptional performances.

Good Morning, Vietnam

An iconic war film, Good Morning, Vietnam, showcases one of Robin Williams' finest performances. The narrative contrasts sanitized programming for soldiers with the brutal realities of warfare, examining the role of truth-telling entertainment amidst such stark disparities.


With a distinctive visual style, Beetlejuice, directed by Tim Burton, stands out in the crowd. Featuring Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, and Winona Ryder, the film cleverly juxtaposes laugh-out-loud humor with supernatural elements, making it a delightful watch.

1988 Movies & Industry Highlights

The year 1988 saw a mix of films topping the box office and garnering substantial gross revenues.

Rain Man, distributed by MGM, was the highest-grossing film of the year, earning an impressive $354,825,435. Close on its heels was Who Framed Roger Rabbit, distributed by Buena Vista, which garnered $329,803,958.

Following these were Coming to America, from Paramount, with $288,752,301; Crocodile Dundee II, with $239,606,210; and Twins, from Universal, which earned $216,614,388.

Other films like Rambo III from TriStar / Carolco, A Fish Called Wanda, Cocktail from Buena Vista, Big from Fox, and Die Hard also contributed substantially to the overall gross earnings in the industry for the year.

Noteworthy Events of 1988 in the Film Industry

In addition to the successful film releases, 1988 was also marked by a number of noteworthy events that left an indelible impact on the industry.

  • One of the notable events was the release of Rambo III in May. Despite being the most expensive film ever made at the time, with a production budget between $58 and $63 million, it failed to replicate the box office earnings from its predecessor, Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985).
  • In contrast, Die Hard, released in July, exceeded commercial expectations to gross $141.5 million worldwide. It was praised as an influential landmark in the action film genre, providing a template for numerous action films in the 1990s.
  • The filming for Batman officially commenced at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire in October, heralding the start of one of the most iconic superhero film franchises.
  • October also saw the release of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial on VHS and laserdisc. To combat piracy, innovative measures were taken, such as coloring the tapeguards and tape hubs on the videocassettes green, affixing a small, holographic sticker of the 1963 Universal logo on the tape, and encoding it with Macrovision. In North America alone, VHS sales totaled $75 million.
  • Closing the year on a high note, Rain Man was released in December. It achieved both critical and commercial success, earning $355 million to become the highest-grossing film of 1988 worldwide. The film also won four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, making it the last MGM title to be nominated for Best Picture until Licorice Pizza (2021), 33 years later.