1988
The exiled Iranian Merhan Karimi Nasseri is stranded in Paris with a one-way ticket. Since he lost his papers, his entry into England is rejected and he lives in the terminal of the Charles De Gaulle airport. During his 17-year-long stay Nasseri spends his time reading books, writing his diary and studying economics. Airport employees provide him with food and newspapers.

His unusual story (and what it says about our society) is the inspiration for Spielberg’s film The Terminal (2004).

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1988
Anne Spielberg
, one of Steven’s sisters, co-writes the script for Penny Marshall’s fantasy comedy film Big.

Tom Hanks plays a young boy who wishes “to be big” and is aged to a 30-year-old man overnight.

Steven Spielberg briefly considers helming the film but steps back to ensure his sister gets the full media attention. Big is the first feature film directed by a woman to gross over $100 million.

Anne Spielberg receives an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

1988
Steven Spielberg
and George Lucas executive-produce Don Bluth’s animated feature film The Land Before Time.

Spielberg intends the film to be reminiscent of Disney’s Bambi, but only with dinosaurs. Initially, Spielberg and Lucas want to have no dialogue in the film, like in the Rite of Spring sequence of Fantasia. They skip the idea to make the film more appealing to children.

For the same reason, they decide to cut about 10 minutes of scenes that are too intense, including a Tyrannosaurus attack. Spielberg seems to have toyed around with some ideas that would evolve into Jurassic Park (1993).

James Horner composes the score as he did for Spielberg’s first animated feature film An American Tail (1986).

The Land Before Time is a critical and financial success and spawns twelve direct-to-video sequels.

1988
Walt Disney Productions
are teaming up with Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment to produce Robert ZemeckisWho Framed Roger Rabbit, starring Bob Hoskins and Christopher Lloyd.

For the first time in movie history, Disney’s Mickey Mouse and Warner Bros.’ Bugs Bunny appear on screen together, accompanied by a host of other famous Toontown characters.

Animated femme fatale Jessica Rabbit (“I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.“) is voiced by Kathleen Turner. Amy Irving supplies the voice for Jessica’s night club song.

Due to the film’s highly innovative animation techniques, the budget soars from $30 to $70 million – it’s the most expensive animated film at the time but turns out to be one of Disney’s highest grossing animated features ever. Disney’s CEO Michael Eisner intends to shut down the production but thankfully Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg talks him out of it (after leaving Disney, Katzenberg co-founds Dreamworks SKG with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen). 

The movie’s unique blending of Film Noir live action and golden age cartoons sparks the modern animation scene

1987
Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket
– one of the best films about war and its devastating effects on the human psyche. Adapted from Gustav Hasford’s novel The Short-Timers, the film features brilliant actors such as Matthew Modine and Vincent D’Onofrio.

R. Lee Ermey plays Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, a drill instructor who is responsible for the mental breakdown of Private Pyle. Ermey ad libs much of his tirades based on his experiences as a U.S. Marine drill instructor during the Vietnam War.

Spielberg will also rely on the support of a real-life drill instructor when directing Saving Private Ryan (1998).

1987
Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire
: a cinematic love letter to West Berlin before the wall goes down. The cult film is famous for its hypnotic black & white images (cinematography: Henri Alekan) and poetic sound collages.

Two angels (played by Bruno Ganz and Otto Sander) stroll through the city, listening to the inner monologues of the people. Peter Falk plays an ex-angel who has given up his immortality to live the life of a human being.

1987
For five months Spielberg is involved in the preparations for a film called Rain Man (1988), starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. Due to scheduling conflicts with the third Indiana Jones movie Spielberg is forced to bow out.

Barry Levinson eventually takes over and wins the Academy Award for Best Director.

1987
Joe Dante’s
sci-fi comedy fantasy Innerspace, starring Meg Ryan, Dennis Quaid, and Martin Short tells the story of a rambunctious Navy test pilot who undergoes a top-secret miniaturization experiment and is accidentally injected into the body of a hypochondriac clerk.

Steven Spielberg serves as executive producer. When Spielberg shows Amy Irving (who is married to him at this time) Jeffrey Boam’s script, she desperately wants to play the role of Lydia Maxwell but Dante does not like the idea of directing the wife of his boss and casts Meg Ryan for the part.

“It was a very awkward situation,” Dante recalls. “Steven would not make me hire Amy Irving, which may have been the cause if a certain dissension in the household. I didn’t think she was right for it.” Irving is upset and writes Dante a letter: “I’m not Mrs. Spielberg. I’m an actress.”

Marking the fourth collaboration between Dante and composer Jerry Goldsmith, the film’s rousing, delightfully clever score combines traditional orchestration with cutting-edge electronic effects. Joe Dante can be seen in a cameo as the first employee in the Vectorscope Lab attacked by the techno-terrorists.  

This is the first film commercially released in Dolby Stereo SR (Spectral Recording).

The Amblin Entertainment production is a commercial and critical success. Siskel & Ebert praise “two thumbs up for this ambitious science-fiction comedy… Dennis Quaid is charming and Martin Short is terrific.” The Los Angeles Times writes: “Using a twist on the ingenious premise of "Fantastic Voyage”–miniaturized travel within a human body–and a pair of very different but equally irresistible leading men, “Innerspace” is densely inventive and consistently hilarious.“

Innerspace receives an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects created by ILM, with Dennis Muren serving as Visual Effects Supervisor who wins his 5th Oscar – so far.