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The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

on July 19, 2020, 12:00am
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100. Blade (1998)

Blade Wesley Snipes Marvel Reboot Mahershala Ali

Blade (New Line Cinema)


Release Date: August 21st, 1999

Worldwide Box Office: $131.2 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Before MCU’s Black Panther, there was Stephen Norrington’s 1998 cinematic adaptation of the daywalking Black vampire graphic novel Blade. A horror film born from grime culture, yet set in Los Angeles, Wesley Snipes plays the titular, sword-wielding vampire. He’s a powerful black man fighting against vampires in the form of white police and corporations. With Snipes as the hero, and N’Bushe Wright playing the romantic lead in Dr. Karen Jenson, Blade doesn’t fall prey to colorism. Instead, there are two dark-skinned leads, a sight that still feels revolutionary more than 20 years later. –Robert Daniels

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Some motherfuckers are always trying to ice-skate uphill.”

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99. Friday the 13th (1980)

friday the 13th The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Friday the 13th (Paramount)

Release Date: May 9th, 1980

Worldwide Box Office: $59.8 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Although Friday the 13th offered a traditional “slice and dice” formula as it follows young people getting picked off one by one, along with Halloween, it set a story template that countless slasher films would follow going forward. Additionally, because it was a box-office smash, it was given an inevitable sequel and eventually became a franchise. As a film, Friday the 13th thrives on its mystery and adrenaline thrills akin to the kind one gets watching a large-scale tentpole. –Matthew St.Clair

Planet Hollywood Quote: “You’re doomed. You’re all doomed!”

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98. Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut

Eyes Wide Shut (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: July 16th, 1999

Worldwide Box Office: $162.1 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Eyes Wide Shut, the most unlikely erotic Christmas thriller you could think of, marked the end of the career of the great Stanley Kubrick. It’s a movie steeped in secret societies, sexual freedom, and the sordid, non-public lifestyles of some of the financial elite. Not only do Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, and Sydney Pollack give some of the greatest dramatic performances of their careers but also some of their most sinister and comedic. A surprise first role for Alan Cumming is quite memorable as well. There will never be another Stanley Kubrick, and I can think of no better swan song for him to deliver than his sexual odyssey. —Kyle Cubr

Planet Hollywood Quote: Alice Horford: “I do love you, and you know there is something very important we need to do as soon as possible.” Bill Harford: “What?” Alice Harford: “Fuck.”

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97. BlackKklansman (2018)

BlacKkKlansman Trailer Spike Lee Adam Driver John David Washington

BlacKkKlansman (Focus Features)

Release Date: August 10th, 2018

Worldwide Box Office: $93.4 million

Where’s the Popcorn? By now, Spike Lee has pretty much tried his hand at every kind of movie throughout his career. So, it’s not exactly surprising that BlackKklansman operates as a greatest hits of all his strongest flexes to date. What’s surprising about the Oscar-winning joint is how all those flexes work so congruently. On the surface, it’s a ’70s crime thriller revival as accessible and as hilarious as any historical drama stamped by Scorsese or Tarantino. But Lee signs off with one hell of a left hook, puncturing through the finale’s optimism with a haunting reminder of the cruel reality of America. It’s a brilliant sleight of hand that both elevates the film and leaves audiences with much more than a half-empty bag of popcorn to carry out the door. –Michael Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Ron Stallworth, member in good standing for the year. Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.”

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96. When Harry Met Sally… (1989)

when harry met sally shot The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

When Harry Met Sally… (Columbia)

Release Date: July 21st, 1989

Worldwide Box Office: $93 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Still the gold-standard of romantic comedies, When Harry Met Sally… is just as delightful, hilarious, and essential over 30 years after its release. While the film’s central argument — men and women can’t just be friends — has been largely disproven, Harry and Sally’s neurotic “will they/won’t they” relationship has provided plenty of inspiration for many other onscreen couples (Rachel and Ross, anyone?). So what makes When Harry Met Sally… such an enduring crowd-pleaser? Take your pick: the iconic New York settings, Nora Ephron’s witty screenplay, the chemistry between its four leads, its insightful commentary on relationships, Rob Reiner’s direction, the wagon-wheel coffee table. No matter what you choose, the film is guaranteed to make you feel as good as a fake orgasm in a deli. –Emmy Potter

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I’ll have what she’s having.”

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95. The Rock (1996)

 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

The Rock (Buena Vista)

Release Date: June 7th, 1996

Worldwide Box Office: $335 million

Where’s the Popcorn? For decades, it’s felt like Michael Bay has alternately tried to escape and embrace the apex of his collective works: 1996’s The Rock. It’s the film in which his particularly over-amped brand of “Bayhem” (saturated colors, despicable characters, every shot looking like it belongs in a music video) has never worked better, thus making it impossible to escape. It’s a symphony of blood and sweat and cement, as Nic Cage dips his toe into the action well for the first time alongside an acerbic Sean Connery as two unlikely heroes set to stop a rogue United States General (Ed Harris, committing wholeheartedly to the ridiculous part) from poisoning the West Coast for his (justifiable) grievances against the government. This was the last film that action producers extraordinaire Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson would work on before the latter’s death, and one can’t help but wonder if the Bruck-Simpson-Bay collaboration would have wielded more adrenaline-fueled classics like this and not, say, Armageddon. –Clint Worthington

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Your best? Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.”

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94. Purple Rain (1984)

Prince in Purple Rain

Purple Rain (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: July 27th, 1984

Worldwide Box Office: $70.3 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Baby, he was a star. Purple Rain was this amazingly executed commercial package, built in the brain of Prince, sold to perfection in this film and its subsequent soundtrack’s triple-knockout of sights, sounds, and sexy summer music. Prince upped the game for star vehicles, for soundtrack work, for concert films. The entire endeavor of marketing Purple Rain was an exercise in commercial confidence that many musicians wish they could copy. And who came close? Name an Elvis movie on repeat. Do any of Madonna’s movies get pop replay? Prince was a true crossover artist and a gold mine for Warner. –Blake Goble

Planet Hollywood Quote: “You have to purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.”

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93. Point Break (1991)

point break The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Point Break (20th Century Fox)

Release Date: July 12th, 1991

Worldwide Box Office: $83.5 Million

Where’s the Popcorn? The original 1991 version of Pointbreak delivers the thrills and spills we crave for our summer blockbuster viewing. Pointbreak (starring a young Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze) is a film that doesn’t take much (if any) brain power to understand and revel in; however, it noticeably, gives us the opportunity to keep the summer vibe going. It’s not a film that focuses on the characters’ arc but rather the philosophical reasoning behind these Southern Californian surfers who rob banks for supposedly higher moralities. So, dust the sand off, grab a brew, and sit back and enjoy the action-packed adrenaline rush that Katheryn Bigelow so skillfully orchestrated. Summer’s not over yet. –Alessandra De Martino

Planet Hollywood Quote: “If you want the ultimate, you’ve got to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It’s not tragic to die doing what you love.”

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92. RoboCop (1987)

Blomkamp departs Robocop

RoboCop (Orion)

Release Date: July 17th, 1987

Worldwide Box Office: $53.4 million

Where’s the Popcorn? There’s nothing like RoboCop, and there never will be again. Paul Verhoeven’s cyberpunk masterpiece is a brilliant example of how to do exploitation right. It’s raw, it’s unfriendly, it’s ugly, it’s brutal, it’s one of the most uncompromising films of all time. Yet, there’s a sleek sophistication to the inimitable production: that million-dollar, DeLorean-esque suit; Basil Poledouris’ sultry score; and the Oscar-nominated sound design that brings the tragic SOB to life. But really, it’s the whole package, a big bang of auteurish filmmaking that made Verhoeven an adjective overnight. –Michael Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I’d buy that for a dollar!”

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91. Honey I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (Disney)

Release Date: June 23rd, 1989

Worldwide Box Office: $222.7 million

Where’s the Popcorn? It’s the summer blockbuster that proves that size doesn’t matter — or at least that it’s relative. While many Hollywood hits take us to exotic locales, far-off galaxies, and even alternative realities, bumbling inventor Wayne Zsalinski and his shrinking ray gun take us on a wild adventure that never even leaves the backyard. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids offers a family-geared, pint-sized thrill ride where bees buck like broncos, ants are gallant heroes, mountain-sized oatmeal cream pies are the sugary stuff of dreams, and your dad’s cereal could be your last meal. All of which, in fine Disney fashion, helps remind Wayne and his family about what matters most in life. Ah, simpler times. –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I shrunk the kids.”

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