It’s summer movie season and everyone’s waiting for the next big blockbuster. The kids want some cultural event to define their childhood. The executives want a new franchise on which to pin their corporate legacies. Actors and filmmakers want to go down in history. The summer blockbuster has been a staple of the season for about 30 years. Here are the 10 biggest, most definitive summer blockbusters of all time.
This is the one that started it all. Before Jaws, movies just rolled around the country playing a few theaters at a time. Jaws blasted nationwide and defined the term blockbuster by creating lines that went beyond a single block. It had the effect of scaring people out of the water and launched a series of decreasingly entertaining sequels, but Jaws is the reason this list even exists.
Photo Credit: Universal [PAGEBREAK]
The newest addition to this list earned its place by providing maximum entertainment to the maximum people. It took a toy and cartoon that had been around for decades and pleased those fans, plus created a new technological vision on screen. Finally,the kicker was giving the robots a sense of humor so that even the parents taking their obsessed children to the movie could enjoy human scenes of backyard fumbles and overprotective parents.
Photo Credit: Paramount
This may have been the first film that created its own buzz. Early teasers of the bat symbol and trailers focusing on dramatic moments showed potential audiences that this was not going to be just some comic book cartoon. This was grown-ups playing with wonderful toys. Despite an uneven narrative pretty much universally criticized, the world of Gotham City and A-list actors in costumes made Batman the biggest movie of the summer.
Photo Credit: Warner Brothers [PAGEBREAK]
7. Forrest Gump
Perhaps the most unexpected summer blockbuster of all time, Forrest Gump took a weird name and a complicated premise and made it resonate with everyone. The special effect of making Tom Hanks meet famous historical figures was the gimmick of the year, and his journey through history gave both grown-ups and kids something to watch that summer.
Photo Credit: Paramount
Even more than Spielberg‘s Jaws or Indiana Jones films, E.T. so defined a generation that they had to rerelease it for several subsequent years. This was before widespread use of VHS and DVD made movies accessible year-round. Everyone felt for Elliot’s relationship with E.T. and cried when he had to go home. Also, the film made so much money for Reese’s Pieces that the Marrs company has forever kicked themselves for not providing M&Ms instead.
Photo Credit: Universal
5. Star Wars
This is the movie that proved that Jaws was not just a fluke. Hollywood could make movies every year that were such must-sees that the theaters of the time could not hold them. Two sequels, three prequels and an animated movie later, fans are still obsessed with Star Wars. The original opened their minds to light sabers and hyper speed, and proved itself a blockbuster even in re-release 20 years later.
Photo Credit: Fox
4. Jurassic Park
Steven Spielberg had already created more blockbusters himself than most studios could achieve with arsenals of creative filmmakers. Still, he reinvented the wheel again by showing the world dinosaurs. Not just jerky, animated dinosaurs. These things looked like the real deal. Even the king of summer blockbusters, Arnold Schwarzenegger, couldn’t compete with them that year.
Photo Credit: Universal
3. Independence Day
Regardless of the quality of the ultimate film, this was the best idea ever for a summer blockbuster. Aliens attack on July 3rd, so the humans have to fight back on what happens to be the American holiday of independence. The movie itself is a mixed bag of effects and clichés, relying on plot contrivances to get to the end, but that didn’t stop everyone from going to see it again and again. No one was going to be accused of lacking patriotism!
Photo Credit: Fox [PAGEBREAK]
2. Terminator 2
This film combined one of the most stunning visual effects still ever created with one of the most hotly anticipated sequels, and the ultimate twist. The liquid metal T-1000 still holds up as one of Hollywood’s most beautiful creations, so the visual alone was worth seeing again and again on the big screen. The sequel to Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s star-making vehicle became even more enticing when early buzz revealed that his evil killing machine would now be the protector.
Photo Credit: Tristar [PAGEBREAK]
1. Spider Man
This movie had something for everybody. Comic book fans of all ages had been waiting to see Spidey on screen. The visual effect finally solved, Hollywood provided something familiar yet original to film viewers. Most importantly, the filmmakers crafted a poignant story that transcended all of the above to teach youngsters a valuable lesson about responsibility, and crafted the most tragic love story since Titanic.
Photo Credit: Columbia