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The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

on July 19, 2020, 12:00am
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Blockbuster Month is celebrating the true titans of the genre. All month long, you’ll read through a variety of features digging deep into the greatest hits of Hollywood, from popcorn classics to underrated gems. Today, the staff names the 100 greatest.

“Cool.” “Riveting.” “Gripping.” “High-Octane Thrill Ride!” All cliches of film criticism and yet all feelings we’ve experienced while watching a crackerjack summer blockbuster. Oops, there we go again. All things considered, any moviegoer can speak to the divine feeling of sitting in a cool, packed theater in the heat of the summer and being united by narrative. Not just united, but hypnotized, mentally convinced that the fate of the world is before your eyes, and there is nothing more important in that very moment.

It’s escapism. It’s popcorn. It’s Chinatown. But also, it’s the power of spectacle. Over the years, Hollywood has certainly run that concept through the ringer, having turned what used to be a summer blockbuster season into, well, an entire calendar year. Now, all those aforementioned buzzwords can fly around in November, or March, or even as early as January. Not surprisingly, it’s since led to diminishing returns, and the idea or notion of a spectacle is one that occurs just every so often. But it still happens.

And when it does, that same magic comes reeling back, and we’re reminded “why we go to the movies,” as the old adage says. Of course, in the wonderful year of 2020 and the age of Covid-19, that old adage is a fever dream, a fantasy even, leaving us starved for that communal experience we so often took for granted. In a sense, the irony is on Hollywood: At a time when streaming networks are rolling out tens of thousands of hours — both classic and original — the people want to leave the living room. Who knew.

That yearning, though, has led to a renewed appreciation for the magic of the summer blockbuster. All of a sudden drive-ins are a thing again, the classics are making waves at the box office, and people are remembering how great we used to have it on the silver screen. Sure, some of it’s simply an easy distraction in an era of very little offline distractions, but the nostalgic bubble has offered some much-needed respite. Whether it’s Isla Nublar or a galaxy far, far away, being whisked away has never felt so … necessary.

In light of those needs, Consequence of Sound has compiled what they believe to be the 100 greatest summer blockbusters of all time. The list ahead was collated by over a dozen film critics, who not only submitted titles but then also voted on them. As with anything, there are rules, and we really followed one: The blockbusters were strictly limited to releases from late April to Labor Day weekend. That means you won’t see favorites like Logan, or The Lord of the Rings films, or even the new Star Wars sequels.

 

Instead, you’ll see a range of films that offer a more nuanced definition of what the summer blockbuster was, is, and still can be in the years and years ahead. Because even though intellectual property is the skeleton key of Hollywood, that wasn’t always the case, and really, that proverbial key won’t always work. In the end, it’s the original stories — be it scary or witty, funny or perplexing, smart or slapstick — that remain just as vital (if not more so) than the reboots, reunions, and re-imaginings.

So, grab some popcorn, toss in some M&Ms, and enjoy this action-packed rollercoaster.

–Michael Roffman
Co-Founder/Editor-in-Chief


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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90. Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)

beverly hills cop 2 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Beverly Hills Cop 2 (Paramount)

Release Date: May 20th, 1987

Worldwide Box Office: $300 million

Where’s the Popcorn? By 1987, producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer and megastar Eddie Murphy were Hollywood forces to be reckoned with, respectively. Following up 1984’s runaway smash Beverly Hills Cop was inevitable, and while Cop II is essentially a clone of the original, it succeeds by doubling down on the action hero escapades for Murphy and allowing him and co-stars Judge Reinhold and John Ashton to hang out a little bit and crack wise, despite it being undoubtedly Murphy’s show. Painted in Tony Scott’s smoggy oranges and neon and punctuated by a pop soundtrack played at maximum volume, Cop II should hang in a museum to show future generations what a Simpson/Bruckheimer action/comedy hybrid looks like. –Mike Vanderbilt

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I’m goin’ deep, deep, deep, undercover.”

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89. Casper (1995)

casper universal The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Casper (Universal)

Release Date: May 26th, 1995

Worldwide Box Office: $287.9 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Casper might be a story about ghouls with “unfinished business.” However, Amblin Entertainment had no problem striking gold from a marketing perspective. In addition to the lucrative box-office take, you had Pizza Hut’s set of Casper vinyl puppets, a video game released on most major consoles, and even an adorable handheld game to throw around in your parents’ car. Merch aside, what’s astounding about Casper is how it seamlessly transitioned from movie theaters to suburban living rooms, infiltrating our childhoods with Blockbuster rentals, a television series, and an addiction to all things spooky amongst youngsters. This was a summer blockbuster that seemingly lasted as long as the ’90s allowed it. –Phillip Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Get an afterlife!”

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88. Animal House (1978)

animal house The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Animal House (Universal)

Release Date: July 28th, 1978

Worldwide Box Office: $141.6 million

Where’s the Popcorn? To be certain, Animal House is indeed offensive and dated. Watched in our era of fraternity privilege and white-male lechery, the John Landis farce is frustrating. However, that necessary caveat doesn’t fully detract from this hit’s home-run derby of gross-out gags. Here’s the Lampoon legacy of absurdity at its strongest. The dead horse in the dean’s office. The “DEATHMOBILE” entered by force in a local parade. And that startlingly amiable alcoholic named Bluto (John Belushi) who successfully ran for office after graduating. Animal House is the progenitor — for better or worse — of the summer sleaze-ball comedy. American Pie, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, about a hundred sex comedies from the ‘80s. The riffy, horny comedy hit arguably graduated from Faber College. –Blake Goble

Planet Hollywood Quote: “TOGA! TOGA!”

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87. The Untouchables (1987)

 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

The Untouchables (Paramount Pictures)

Release Date: June 5th, 1987

Worldwide Box Office: $76.3 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables spins the Al Capone manhunt at its center into a cross of cheese and charge, mixing action set-pieces and an examination of the redemption- and retribution-driven characters that instigate them, led with solid performances from the likes of Kevin Costner, Sean Connery, and Robert de Niro. It sprawls the operatic mythos of the classic Western across the backdrop of Prohibition-era Chicago. While subdued compared to normal levels of De Palma eccentricity, his directorial flourishes nevertheless imbue the film with pulpy identity and find camaraderie in the pensive, punchy script of esteemed writer David Mamet and the musical contribution of the recently passed Ennio Morricone — teeming with his lasting standard of character. —Sam Mwakasisi

Planet Hollywood Quote: “He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue! That’s the Chicago way.”

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86. American Graffiti (1973)

american graffiti The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

American Graffiti (Universal)

Release Date: August 11th, 1973

Worldwide Box Office: $140 million

Where’s the Popcorn? American Graffiti offers a balance of universal appeal — thanks to its story line involving the uncertainty of life after high school — and an amusing nostalgia trip. Songs on the soundtrack like “Rock Around the Clock” and “Love Potion No. 9” are enough to make certain viewers reminiscent of past times like cruising and record hops. Its cross-generational appeal is what likely led to it being a box-office smash that became preserved in the National Film Registry and gave director George Lucas the cache to make a certain sci-fi film that happened to become its own cultural phenomenon. (Hint: Star Wars) –Matthew St.Clair

Planet Hollywood Quote: “There’s a wicked ‘55 Chevy lookin’ for you.”

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85. National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983)

vacation The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

National Lampoon’s Vacation (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: July 29th, 1983

Worldwide Box Office: $61.4 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Most of us couldn’t imagine our own families on the big screen, especially partaking in something as mundane as a road trip on the way to a family vacation. (Hell, most of us never even developed or look at our old vacation pictures.) Then came National Lampoon’s Vacation and Clark, Ellen, Rusty, and Audrey Griswold, not to mention Cousin Eddie and his metal plate. All of a sudden, we saw characters who reminded us of our own families and some of the more embarrassing moments of our own childhood vacations. No, our father never held an entire amusement park hostage (and most likely neither did writer John Hughes’ pops), but we’ve all seen the old man blow a serious gasket in close quarters before. Vacation taught us, with a little punching up, even lives as humdrum as ours have blockbuster potential. Good talk, son. –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “You know what I think? I think you’re all fucked in the head! We’re 10 hours from the fucking fun park, and you want to bail out. Well, I’ll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation … it’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun! I’m gonna have fun, and you’re gonna have fun! We’re all gonna have so much fucking fun we’ll need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah’ out of your assholes! Hahaha! I gotta be crazy. I’m on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy Shit!”

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84. Grease (1978)

grease spinoff hbo max rydell high

Grease (Paramount Pictures)

Release Date: June 13th, 1978

Worldwide Box Office: $397 million

Where’s the Popcorn? What’s the word for when you want to take a nostalgic trip back to Rydell High School in the 1950s where literal adults play teenagers singing catchy songs about hot rods, summer lovin’, and teen pregnancy? Grease. What’s the word for when you cast John Travolta, who’s already on a hot streak thanks to Welcome Back Kotter and Saturday Night Fever, and rising star Australian singer/actress Olivia Newton-John and wind up with the second best-selling album of 1978 and one of the best-selling albums of all time? Grease. What’s the word for arguably one of the most fun, crowd-pleasing movie musicals in history where everyone goes together like rama lama lama ka-dinga-da-dinga-dong and the prudish blonde transforms herself into a leather pants-wearing babe for her hot, greaser boyfriend because he’s the one that she wants? Grease. And 42 years later, Grease is still the word. –Emmy Potter

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Tell me about it, stud.”

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83. Superbad (2007)

superbad The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Superbad (Sony)

Release Date: August 17th, 2007

Worldwide Box Office: $170 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Streaming services brought the days of the big Hollywood comedy to a close, which adds a little bittersweetness to memories of theatrical releases like Superbad. The breakout comedy of 2007 had plenty of fuel for its initial buzz, including the involvement of rising stars like Seth Rogan, Michael Cera, and a then-unknown Jonah Hill, as well as a production cosign from Judd Apatow, then at the height of his powers after the success of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Credit director Greg Mottola for embracing an Apatow-style conversational relatability that grounds even the most outlandish of the film’s Odyssean teen sex quest scenarios with heart. That, plus the lived-in chemistry between Cera and Hill turns what could’ve otherwise been a forgettable teen sex romp into a relatable meditation on change, expectations, and male friendship. –Tyler Clark

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I am McLovin!”

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82. Gremlins (1984)

gremlins The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Gremlins (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: June 8th, 1984

Worldwide Box Office: $213 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Small-town America got the spotlight in Gremlins, but not in the way they may have wanted. This blend of comedy and horror, perfectly captured by director Joe Dante and debut screenwriter Chris Columbus, twists the small town as presented by filmmakers like Frank Capra into something horrific when a teenage boy’s mysterious new pet accidentally unleashes his much nastier siblings to attack and kill. Gremlins is one of the daffier blockbusters ever made, with Steven Spielberg attached as its producer. (That’s to say nothing of the much weirder sequel from 1990.) It’s an embrace and inversion of summertime fare like Spielberg’s own E.T., carving out a place for itself as that upbeat film’s snarkier cousin. –Josh Spiegel

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Don’t get him wet.”

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81. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

dog day afternoon The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Dog Day Afternoon (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: September 21st, 1975

Worldwide Box Office: $50 million

Where’s the Popcorn? So, this came out after Labor Day, yes, that’s a testing of the rules on summer blockbuster. But like, what a sweaty, messy, summer classic. Sidney Lumet went all in with this sensationalist pulp thriller, naturalistic, fast, and, of course, heated. The echoes of Dog Day Afternoon are seen to this day in summer action flicks, what with its breathless pacing and exasperated tone. And Al Pacino was a marquee name by this point, begging, screaming, and pleading at audiences. Now, that’s entertainment. –Blake Goble

Planet Hollywood Quote: “ATTICA! ATTICA!”

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80. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Paramount)

Release Date: June 4th, 1982

Worldwide Box Office: $97 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Star Trek was hardly an exciting, action-heavy film franchise — the first in the series, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, was a cerebral bore that was more 2001 than Star Wars. But Nicholas Meyer and producer Harve Bennett righted the ship by taking the series back to its roots as a Horatio Hornblower-style space adventure with The Wrath of Khan, which still stands as one of the most iconic films in the series. Instead of talking to a blue energy cloud in pajamas, the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise wrestled with its most formidable foe yet: a vengeful Khan Noonien Singh (played with teeth-gnashing delight by Ricardo Montalban) as the sins of Admiral Kirk’s past returned to haunt him. It’s a rollicking, well-paced adventure for its modest budget ($12 million) and cemented the Trek films as a series of space operas about growing old. There’s a reason the rest of the series would spend its lifetime trying to chase the Khan formula, to mixed results. –Clint Worthington

Planet Hollywood Quote: “KHAAAAANNNN!”

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79. From Russia with Love (1963)

from russia with love The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

From Russia with Love (United Artists)

Release Date: May 27th, 1964

Worldwide Box Office: $79 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Like, look. Bond has popped out in cinemas many a time in summer release windows over the decades. Spy Who Loved Me, License to Kill, and on and on amidst dozens of action flicks. But From Russia with Love feels so summery in so many ways. It cemented Bond’s legacy as a franchise to keep watching. It brought people out to the movies for their baser instincts, like boy toys and action scenes and other paperback goodies. Bond is like Bourne or John McClane. He was an early name-brand hero that people wanted to see in droves. –Blake Goble

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Red wine with fish … Well, that should have told me something.”

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78. Caddyshack (1980)

caddyshack murray e1445026146984 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Caddyshack (Orion)

Release Date: July 25th, 1980

Worldwide Box Office: $39.8 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Golf is a funny game. There’s the silly pants. The avian lingo. And goofy hats that look like they come with a free bowl of soup. It’s not a sport that audiences associate with blockbuster comedy, though. But one enchanted summer, some SNL alumni, Rodney Dangerfield, and baggie after baggie of behind-the-scenes cocaine converged on Davie, FL, and changed all of that. Caddyshack was Harold Ramis’ directorial debut, and its lasting impact lingers across golf courses around the world. Despite critics saying thank you very little upon the film’s release, fans loved it, leading amateurs and professional athletes alike to regularly quote scenes from the raunchy comedy. Caddyshack’s most popular fan, Tiger Woods, even went so far as channeling Bill Murray’s gopher hating Carl Spackler in a 2015 American Express commercial for the film’s 35th anniversary. No word yet though on whether Woods will endorse Baby Ruth bars for this year’s 40th. –Dan Pfleegor

Planet Hollywood Quote: “He’s a Cinderella story. A former assistant groundskeeper about to become the Masters champion. It looks like a mirac … it’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”

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77. Blues Brothers (1980)

blues brothers The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

The Blues Brothers (Universal)

Release Date: June 20th, 1980

Worldwide Box Office: $115.2 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Blues revivalism, car chases, Illinois Nazis, and more celebrity appearances than you can shake a catechism at — a lot can happen in Sweet Home Chicago. The Blues Brothers is the first, among the biggest, and arguably among the best features of Saturday Night Live skit born and certainly one of the niche subgenre’s most hard-earned success stories. While production was plagued by factors from unstable budgeting to an extensively rewritten script, the film’s defining characteristics (musical numbers, zany action, Jim Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s ineradicable chemistry, etc.) made for a lucrative outcome bolstered by the home video market and late-night audience participation circuits. Ordaining the marriage of comedy and music on SNL is one thing. Getting chart-topping success is another. Helming one of cult film’s most legendary excursions is the final piece of a trinity just crazy enough to work. After all, it was on a mission from God. —Sam Mwakasisi

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I hate Illinois Nazis.”

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76. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

the wizard of oz The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

The Wizard of Oz (MGM)

Release Date: August 25th, 1939

Worldwide Box Office: $26.1 million

Where’s the Popcorn? The Wizard of Oz remains a taste of Old Hollywood that feels nearly as magical today as it must have more than 80 years ago. Yes, Judy Garland, the songs, and the characters have all become iconic and part of our shared pop-culture lexicon, but let’s not forget that this early blockbuster paved the way for more than just the Yellow Brick Road. It made fantastical fare fit for the big screen, demonstrated huge advances in movie-making technology (particularly the use of Technicolor), advocated for the preservation of movies as culturally significant works of art, and showed that films could warm hearts and rake in cash for decades to come via re-release, television broadcasts, home video sales, and merchandise. In many ways, the Yellow Brick Road can be thought of as the Blueprint. –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “There’s no place like home.”

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75. Chinatown (1974)

chinatown161 e1594571330397 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Chinatown (Paramount)

Release Date: June 20th, 1974

Worldwide Box Office: $29 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Who knew a film about metropolitan water rights could be so gripping? Inspired by the real-world California Water Wars, Chinatown captures much of the best of ’70s filmmaking in a single picture: the tightly constructed screenplay of Robert Townes, the intense magnetism of Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway, and the instinctual directing of the now-disgraced Roman Polanski. A hit at the time of its release and hailed as one of the greatest films of all time now, Chinatown eclipsed its noir inspirations and became a new touchstone for the genre: if you’ve ever enjoyed LA Confidential or Inherent Vice or Who Framed Roger Rabbit, you have Chinatown to thank for the inspiration. –Tyler Clark

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

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74. Avengers: Endgame (2019)

Avengers: Endgame, Robert Downey, Kr.

Avengers: Endgame (Marvel Studios)

Release Date: April 26th, 2019

Worldwide Box Office: $2.8 billion

Where’s the Popcorn? For about a decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has kick-started a “shared universe” trend, which other IP properties have tried replicating since, and reached its culmination just last year when Avengers: Endgame achieved almost every box-office record imaginable. While the MCU will continue to live on even if the original heroes are seeing their stories come to a close, this film still is a bombastic payoff that showed all of Earth’s mightiest heroes uniting to battle the villainous Thanos while showcasing the traditional mix of humor and pathos that one would expect in both a Marvel film and a general blockbuster. –Matthew St.Clair

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Avengers … Assemble.”

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73. Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Sleepless in Seattle The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Sleepless in Seattle (TriStar)

Release Date: June 25, 1993

Worldwide Box Office: $227 million

Where’s the Popcorn? On June 25th, 1993, Nora Ephron invented cinema. I am kidding, but only a little bit. While 1989’s When Harry Met Sally… set the tone for Ephron as a screenwriter, Sleepless in Seattle set the tone for her directing style. With a structure that kept the leads physically separate for nearly the entire film, Ephron proved she was willing to take a big risk and introduced high-concept to the romantic comedy genre. Sleepless in Seattle didn’t introduce Meg Ryan or Tom Hanks, but it introduced their chemistry within Ephron’s world: an iconic trio that would later define 1990s cinema. The financial and critical success of Sleepless in Seattle led to Ephron’s decades-long career as a generation-defining writer/director, an accomplishment even more difficult for women to achieve then than it is now. –Carrie Wittmer

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Destiny is something we’ve invented because we can’t stand the fact that everything that happens is accidental.”

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72. The Omen (1976)

Cursed Films

The Omen (20th Century Fox)

Release Date: June 25th, 1976

Worldwide Box Office: $60.9 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Richard Donner’s The Omen is every parent’s nightmare. The story follows Ambassador Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) and his wife Katherine (Lee Remick), whose adopted son just so happens to be the Antichrist. In that respect, it’s a little bit Rosemary’s Baby, and it’s a little bit of The Exorcist, only it never quite received the same critical acclaim of those satanic horror classics. Instead, The Omen works like a blockbuster subversion of its predecessors, what with its thrilling pace, extravagant death sequences, and Jerry Goldsmith’s fantastic Carmina Burana-style score. Looking back, and given its biting commentary and nihilistic premonitions, The Omen represents the end of an era for a genre on the cusp of slasher domination. –Jenn Adams

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Look at me, Damien! It’s all for you.”

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71. Twister (1996)

Twister Reboot

Twister (Universal)

Release Date: May 10th, 1996

Worldwide Box Office: $495.7 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Natural disasters are nature’s car wrecks. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we can admit that part of us just needs to look. That’s the strange appeal of a movie like Twister. We tag along with the late Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt’s ragtag band of storm chasers and get a closer look than we ever bargained for as we barrel into the eye of the storm rather than do the rational thing and retreat in the opposite direction. This isn’t the first time Hollywood has thrown characters into harm’s way of Mother Nature (nor is it the industry’s first flying cow), but whether it’s Dorothy’s twister or this movie’s EF5 tearing through a drive-in movie lot during The Shining, we look on in absolute awe (often through our fingers) of something as terrifying as any monster or villain. Run … now. –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “You’ve never seen it miss this house, and miss that house, and come after you!”

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70. Mamma Mia! (2008)

mamma mia The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Mamma Mia! (Universal)

Release Date: July 18th, 2008

Worldwide Box Office: $615 million

Where’s the Popcorn? A few years ago, Mamma Mia! might not have been considered for this conversation. But 12 years later, it’s not only made itself relevant again, it’s been redeemed. Because musical fans are very powerful, enough people cared about Mamma Mia in 2008 to see it in theaters even though a new Batman movie (also on this list) came out on the same day. With the release and joyful response to Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again in 2018, a wider range of critics (aka not just pretentious white dudes who hate musicals and pure joy), looked back on the original more positively, just as it should have been all along. Mamma Mia doesn’t demand you do anything except simply have fun watching Christine Baranski exist, Colin Firth dance, Dominic Cooper and Amanda Seyfried crawl in sand, and Pierce Brosnan sing so bad that it’s actually good. –Carrie Wittmer

Planet Hollywood Quote: “You wait 20 years for a dad and then three come along at once.”

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69. Wonder Woman (2017)

wonder woman The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Wonder Woman (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: June 2nd, 2017

Worldwide Box Office: $821.8 million

Where’s the Popcorn? In a year packed with blockbusters, Wonder Woman was one of the most eagerly anticipated. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) leapt onto the scene to become the most interesting part of 2016’s Batman v Superman, and many fans and feminists anxiously waited to see if her stand-alone movie would be taken seriously as the on screen representation we’d been promised. Directed by Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman is often revered as the bright spot in the DC Universe. While occasionally saccharine, the film is a breath of fresh air in the early days of a new wave of feminism. –Jenn Adams

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I will fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.”

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68. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 1984 featured The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (Paramount)

Release Date: May 23rd, 1984

Worldwide Box Office: $333.1 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Temple of Doom gets a bad rap. Upon its release, critic Leonard Maltin wrote in his two-star review that the film “never gives us a chance to breathe.” But, that’s what makes it such a heel turn from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Because unlike that entry, Temple gets its hands dirty with some truly macabre horror, and the stakes have never been graver for Indiana Jones. When he falls, he really falls, so much so that he’s spitting up blood and beating up kids. However, when he triumphs, you can’t help but stand up and throw invisible punches like Willie Scott. By tinkering with the genres and indulging in a little dark magic, Spielberg delivered an unorthodox sequel that didn’t just thrill but scared the living daylights out of us. –Michael Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.”

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67. The Fly (1986)

the fly The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

The Fly (20th Century Fox)

Release Date: August 15th, 1986

Worldwide Box Office: $60.6 million

Where’s the Popcorn? David Cronenberg’s The Fly is a lasting showcase of the body horror master in trauma-inducing top form, but its transformation of man into monster is refracted just as much through its landmark viscera as the twisted romantic tragedy and sobering examination of humanity at its core. It’s this formula that drew a wide audience (and a makeup Oscar) to a non-mainstream doorstep, propelled by the legendary performance of a burgeoning, fittingly eccentric Jeff Goldblum. Without a drop of potency lost in the decades since its release, it upholds a powerful legacy by science-fiction, horror, and blockbuster standards that’s worth its weight in stunning effects and sleepless nights alike. Talk about putting the “pus” in “magnum opus”. —Sam Mwakasisi

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

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66. Shrek (2001)

shrek 2001 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Shrek (DreamWorks)

Release Date: May 18th, 2001

Worldwide Box Office: $484 million

Where’s the Popcorn? If you’d told a Shrek viewer on the movie’s opening day that, two decades later, the role would come to define Mike Myers more than Wayne Campbell or Austin Powers, it might’ve been difficult to believe. Nineteen years and three money-printing sequels later, it’s a little easier to swallow. The original’s surprisingly durable skewering of equally timeless fairy-tale tropes played to adults and kids alike; in the process, it became the most meme’d franchise on this entire list, helped Eddie Murphy shake off Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, and enabled Dreamworks Animation to emerge as a viable competitor to the eventual Disney/Pixar Goliath. Without Shrek, there’d be no Boss Baby, and that’s no world I’d want to live in. –Tyler Clark

Planet Hollywood Quote: “This is gonna be fun. We can stay up late, swapping manly stories, and in the morning … I’m making waffles!”

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65. District 9 (2009)

District 9 Immigration Policy

District-9 (Sony)

Release Date: August 14th, 2009

Worldwide Box Office: $210.8 million

Where’s the Popcorn? By transforming Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis into a commentary on refugees and immigrants, Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 remains one of the more unique blockbuster science-fiction visions. Filmed as a mockumentary, and less reliant on scares than most alien blockbusters, District 9 is a morality play set against human atrocities, born from the fear of the other. With themes relating to xenophobia and environmental decay, it’s telling that these aliens were better off staying in a dilapidated ship than knowing humanity. Over 10 years since the film’s release, I think I’d like to join them. –Robert Daniels

Planet Hollywood Quote: “This is basically a guy, and there’s three humans here, basically trying to make a warning, you know, saying, ‘I kill three humans, watch out for me.’”

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64. Forrest Gump (1994)

forrest gump 1 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Forrest Gump (Paramount)

Release Date: July 6th, 1994

Worldwide Box Office: $678.2 million

Where’s the Popcorn? The film that would win Tom Hanks his second Academy Award, Forrest Gump follows a mentally disabled man as he stumbles through iconic events of the second half of 20th century America. Seemingly progressive at the time with references to The Black Panthers, Vietnam Veterans, and the AIDS epidemic (bucking the narrative that it only affected gay men), Forrest Gump hasn’t aged particularly well as it centers on a white man in a time of huge societal upheaval and credits him as responsible for progressive change. But it’s hard to fight the film’s infectious nostalgia, featuring iconic performances, a soundtrack that plays like Greatest Hits America, and a Hollywood kiss for the ages. –Jenn Adams

Planet Hollywood Quote: “My momma always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'”

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63. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

FERRIS The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (Paramount)

Release Date: June 11th, 1986

Worldwide Box Office: $70.1 million

Where’s the Popcorn? When critics talk about the late John Hughes as a filmmaker-writer who understood teenagers, or at least addressed their problems in a respectful fashion, that includes remembering the life-changing experiences that could stem from something as simple as a family road trip, a Saturday detention, or a day of playing hooky from school with friends. Of course, Ferris Bueller is more than just a celebration of ditching class. It’s a movie about life’s ephemeral nature and how being put through the paces of growing up means regular upheaval, premature endings, and too many forced goodbyes. Anyone who has lived long enough to reach over a counter and purchase a movie ticket can appreciate the idea of stopping for a second and lingering in the present because, as Ferris says, “Life moves pretty fast.” –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

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62. Collateral (2004)

collateral tom cruise The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Collateral (DreamWorks)

Release Date: August 6th, 2004

Worldwide Box Office: $221 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Summer blockbusters usually have an easy hook or a high enough concept to make audiences pay attention. Collateral has both. The hook is simple: Do you want to watch Tom Cruise play an irredeemable bad guy? The concept is equally simple: a friendly taxi driver picks up his latest fare, only to learn that said fare is a hitman who wants to pay him a lot of money to drive around LA one night so he can kill some people who would testify in a case against a fearsome mobster. Michael Mann manages to be right at home with the premise, using digital photography to bring LA to life at night in ways unseen before in mainstream film. And Cruise and Jamie Foxx bounce off each other so well that their chemistry makes this a smarter-than-average blockbuster. –Josh Spiegel

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Darwin, shit happens. I Ching, whatever, man. We gotta roll with it.”

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61. The Fifth Element (1997)

element The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

The Fifth Element (Buena Vista)

Release Date: May 9th, 1997

Worldwide Box Office: $264 million

Where’s the Popcorn? There are, sincerely, people out there who don’t like The Fifth Element. Look into the reviews at the time, and you can find a fairly split critics’ circle. It’s loud, it’s uneven in its themes and story arc, laughs at the Bechdel test in its climax, and mixes truly smart visual effects with truly cheap ones. It is, quite literally, the dream project of a teenage boy named Luc Besson. It is also endlessly, inspiringly original. Yes, its inspirations are easy to trace back to any number of sci-fi films and comics, but put together in this way, with this stellar cast, with this level of humor, and it becomes something so unabashedly itself that its flaws simply become part of its charm. Even if you sit their and dissect its faults, you can’t deny you’re having a good time while you do. Blockbusters are, in the end, about fun, and The Fifth Element is that all the way through. —Ben Kaye

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Big ba-da boom!”

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60. Inside Out (2015)

joy sadness inside out pixar

Inside Out (Pixar)

Release Date: June 19th, 2015

Worldwide Box Office: $858 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Inside Out is unique among blockbusters in the way its conflicts are largely internal, both literally and figuratively. But that’s also its appeal and its charm. The imaginative journey through a young girl’s psyche not only provides Pixar’s team with ample opportunities to be creative when depicting our thought processes; it also lets them visualize the emotional experiences we all go through in an exciting and engrossing way. Few movies will both make you laugh, cheer, and cry as expertly as this one does, cementing it as the crown jewel in Pixar’s long litany of superb releases. –Andrew Bloom

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Take her to the moon for me, OK?”

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59. Mission: Impossible (1996)

David Koepp Interview

Mission: Impossible (Paramount Pictures)

Release Date: May 22nd, 1996

Worldwide Box Office: $457.7 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Out of all the franchises on this list, Mission: Impossible may be the only one that’s both a.) still kicking and b.) still kicking hard. Who knew in 1996 that Tom Cruise’s high-wire act as IMF agent Ethan Hunt would carry over well into the new millennium? Not even the prodigal son himself. Brian De Palma set a bar for the series, though, and while the stunts aren’t nearly as prolific as they are today, this is arguably the headiest mission to date. Heavyweight scribes Robert Towne, Steve Zallian, and David Koepp pieced together one hell of an Escher-esque thriller, one that treats its audiences like senior CIA specialists as it zigs and zags at a delicately measured clip. If only more blockbusters could be that trustworthy. –Michael Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Red light. Green light.”

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58. Gladiator (2000)

Gladiator

Gladiator (DreamWorks)

Release Date: May 1st, 2000

Worldwide Box Office: $460.5 million

Where’s the Popcorn? “Maximus! Maximus! Maximus!” A blockbuster that became an unlikely Oscar heavyweight, ultimately netting Russell Crowe a win for Best Actor, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator is a story as old as Spartacus. One man rising against an empire, against an emperor. Crowe portrayed the loyal servant and general, betrayed by the malicious and capricious Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), to heroic effect. Phoenix’s Commodus is one of cinema’s great villains. He’s a menacing emperor with no clothes. Rousing yet tragic, Gladiator leapt from antiquity into the classics. –Robert Daniels

Planet Hollywood Quote: “There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper, and it would vanish. It was so fragile.”

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57. The Lost Boys (1987)

lost boys hed The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

The Lost Boys (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: July 31st, 1987

Worldwide Box Office: $32.2 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Before The Lost Boys came along, vampires were often portrayed as suave, mysterious, and even with European accents. Then, Kiefer Sutherland and co. rocked their leather coats and rode their motorcycles as they roamed the town of Santa Carla, shifting the media’s perception of the fanged creatures of the night. The late great Joel Schumacher ushered in a new era of commercially viable vampire lore as he crafted a film that is horrific, humorous, sexy, and subtly queer all at once. –Matthew St.Clair

Planet Hollywood Quote: “One thing about Santa Carla I never could stomach, all the damn vampires.”

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56. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy, Chris Pratt, Marvel, Comic Book Movies

Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel Studios)

Release Date: August 1st, 2014

Worldwide Box Office: $772.8 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Marvel had well-established itself as a dominate box office presence by the time Guardians of the Galaxy rolled out. Still, there was something to prove in James Gunn’s intergalactic adventure, an immutable trust to earn in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With an abundance of cheeky fun, the film demonstrated there was no limit to what Marvel could do; they made a talking tree and a raccoon lovable action stars, for krutack’s sake. They also made a bankable name out of Chris Pratt, who’d go on to top another billion-dollar franchise with Jurassic World. You could also point to Gunn’s very deliberate use of music for revitalizing the idea of the blockbuster soundtrack, something the movie did so well that the sequel was actually called Vol. 2. Marvel has a lot of wins under its belt, revolutionizing superhero cinema in the process, but the impact of GotG can be traced well outside the pages of a comic book. –Ben Kaye

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I am Groot!”

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55. Men in Black (1997)

Men In Black Sony e1594571833302 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Men in Black (Sony)

Release Date: July 2nd, 1997

Worldwide Box Office: $589.4 million

Where’s the Popcorn? For two years in a row, Will Smith owned the summer with a blockbuster movie about aliens. Men in Black, however, was the far more charming thanks to the cast that surrounded Smith. His dynamics with Tommy Lee Jones make them one of the most enjoyable on-screen buddies of the ’90s, and Rip Torn’s gruff affability is a consistent pleasure to behold. In addition to spawning a number of sequels and an animated series, MiB was low-key the starting ground for what became the comic book cinematic revolution of the early aughts. After all, if such an obscure series of comics can become such a universally acclaimed blockbuster, why couldn’t Spider-Man swing through the streets? Oh, and also there’s that Grammy-winning song, setting a bar for star actor/theme song performer that hasn’t really been topped since. — Ben Kaye

Planet Hollywood Quote: “You know the difference between you and me? I make this look good.”

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54. 28 Days Later (2003)

A Quiet Place, Cillian Murphy, 28 Days Later

28 Days Later (Fox Searchlight)

Release Date: June 27th, 2003

Worldwide Box Office: $82.7 million

Where’s The Popcorn? 28 Days Later is an absolute triple threat: a sexy, forward-thinking soundtrack, a brilliant cast of then-unknowns, and an imaginative director in Danny Boyle. Upon arrival, it not only reconfigured the zombie genre, but was one of the first horror films to capture the zeitgeist of a post-9/11 world. That was by accident, however, as much of the filming occurred prior to the American tragedy, making the missing persons walls and empty streets a prescient happenstance. That kind of unnerving clairvoyance extends to today as the film’s portrayal of an epidemic strikes a new chord amidst our ensuing pandemic. Let’s just hope rage doesn’t fill our streets … or has it already? –Phillip Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “You were thinking that you’ll never hear another piece of original music ever again. You’ll never read another book that hasn’t already been written … or see a film that hasn’t already been shot.”

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53. Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995)

Die Hard with a Vengeance  The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Die Hard with a Vengeance (20th Century Fox)

Release Date: May 19th, 1995

Worldwide Box Office: $366.1 million

Where’s the Popcorn? This is how you make a sequel: Drop an iconic character into a bigger sandbox (New York City), shake him down (wife go bye-bye), toss in an unlikely sidekick (Samuel L. Jackson), up the stakes considerably (bombs, bombs, bombs), and make things personal (Simon says Gruber). Granted, Die Hard with a Vengeance didn’t start out as a Die Hard film, but Jonathan Hensleigh’s witty, tough-as-nails screenplay fit right into the world of Roderick Thorp. After Die Hard 2 copypasta’d the 1988 blockbuster, Fox was wise to pivot from any claustrophobic action for this city-sprawling misadventure. Fueled by chemistry you simply can’t buy, this sweaty, dirty, and hilarious return from John McTiernan nearly surpasses the original. –Michael Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I don’t like you because you’re gonna get me killed!”

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52. Poltergeist (1982)

Cursed Films Interview

Poltergeist (MGM)

Release Date: June 4th, 1982

Worldwide Box Office: $96 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Any one of the superlative sequences in Poltergeist would be enough to put a normal horror movie on the map. Instead, director Tobe Hooper (with an assist from literal and figurative ghost director Steven Spielberg), packs the film full of brilliant set pieces. Again and again, the movie scares and excites the viewer with rescues, escapes, and supernatural stand offs that practically jump off the screen. All those frights, though, are founded on a family in crisis, adding emotional stakes to the horror. The movie is undeniably bold, frightening, and impressive, but ultimately reaffirms the heart of domestic life and love, giving it a power apart from its supernatural spectacle. –Andrew Bloom

Planet Hollywood Quote: “They’re here!”

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51. Independence Day (1996)

Will Smith's Top 10 Performances

Independence Day (20th Century Fox)

Release Date: July 3rd, 1996

Worldwide Box Office: $817,400,891

Where’s the Popcorn? Think about this: The series finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air aired on May 20th, 1996. A month and a half later, Independence Day blew up the screen. Both projects starred Will Smith, but they feel like entirely different eras for the megastar entertainer. In reality, ID4 was a turning point for Smith, demonstrating his illimitable charm and chops could hold sway even set against bigger stars like Jeff Goldblum or Bill Pullmanor even bigger explosions. Not only did this set the stage for what became a summer tradition of Smith’s box office dominance, it changed the look of disaster movies. While the use of models has been (for better or, more likely, worse) superseded by computer effects, ID4’s scope of cinematic destruction set a new bar for how big a boom you could put on film. —Ben Kaye

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Welcome to Earth.”

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50. Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now!

Apocalypse Now! (United Artists)

Release Date: August 15th, 1979

Worldwide Box Office: $150 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Yes, the production of Apocalypse Now can easily be described as “ the horror, the horror.” But the end product that exploded on screen in the summer of ’79 after multiple delays and fraught tinkering from Francis Ford Coppola? Phenomenal. Apocalypse Now dazzled with its surreal and sensational images, offering a new level of scale, serenity, and satirie elements not previously seen in combat flicks. It just worked while being satisfyingly popcorn-movie-priced. The Wagner sequence is legendary. The hunt for Kurtz down the river is haunting. And Apocalypse Now’s legacy of big-time theatrics endures as a masterpiece of pulp and pomp. –Blake Goble

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

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49. Boyz n the Hood (1991)

Boyz N the Hood Soundtrack reissue double vinyl

Boyz N the Hood (Columbia)

Release Date: July 12th, 1991

Worldwide Box Office: $57.5 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Boyz n the Hood is an exemplary study of an environment rich with character and conflict. Running on the debuting energy of its leads (including Ice Cube and Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and the hungry directorial force of John Singleton, the confidence of the film’s expression treats its social statements with an unstoppable drive that elevated what its own distributors saw as a small-name endeavor into a big-time cultural impact by account of both returns and historical Oscar nods. While Singleton would contribute further to the cinematic lexicon of black life, the work of his that’s respected, referenced, and rhapsodized most is without a doubt his first, supremely strong foot forward. — Sam Mwakasisi

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Any fool with a dick can make a baby, but only a real man can raise his children.”

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48. The Thing (1982)

Blumhouse Remaking The Thing

The Thing (Universal)

Release Date: June 25th, 1982

Worldwide Box Office: $19.6 million

Where’s the Popcorn? In 1982, the world was unkind to John Carpenter’s The Thing. The film froze at the box office, prompting Universal to buy out Carpenter’s three-picture deal. Fools. Bureaucratic fools. Eventually, critics and cinephiles came around to embrace the film for what it is: a muscular slice of unshakeable sci-fi horror that thrives from a who’s who of genre actors that all look as terrified as we do behind our bucket of popcorn. Featuring the most striking practical effects to ever hit the silver screen, Carpenter’s apocalyptic nightmare is the kind of masterpiece we dream about getting today. –Michael Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Nobody trusts anybody now, and we’re all very tired.”

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47. Dunkirk (2017)

Dunkirk (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Dunkirk (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Release Date: July 21st, 2017

Worldwide Box Office: $526.9 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Christopher Nolan applies his penchant for time dilation with his WWII epic Dunkirk. It’s chock full of razor sharp performers yet what makes it truly stand out is its cutthroat storytelling, all wired to three subplots told over a week, a day, and an hour. Because of this, dialogue plays a backseat role to immersing the viewer into the harrowing experiences of those present in those times on the sea, on the beaches, and in the air. Granted, Nolan’s always been a master of spectacle, but his decision to shoot in IMAX/70mm makes Dunkirk one of the most immersive and disorienting war movies of all time and one to be seen in the biggest, loudest venue available to audiences. –Kyle Cubr

Planet Hollywood Quote: Commander Bolton: “You can practically see it from here.”

Colonel Winnant: “What?”

Commander Bolton: “Home.”

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46. Mary Poppins (1964)

marypoppins The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Mary Poppins (Walt Disney)

Release Date: August 27th, 1964

Worldwide Box Office: $103.1 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Mary Poppins might be called Walt Disney’s white whale. The animation giant spent more than two decades trying to purchase the film rights to Mary Poppins from author P.L. Travers. The movie might also be called Disney’s crowning achievement, an animation/live-action hybrid that earned five Oscars, made Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke household names, and remains beloved by each subsequent generation. Full of technical and artistic wonder, chock-full of now-classic tunes by the Sherman brothers, and featuring performances brimming with warmth, pathos, and silliness, Mary Poppins emerged as an absolute marvel of motion-picture making and remains so to this day. Spit-spot. –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

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45. Rocky II (1979)

Rocky II (United Artists)

Rocky II (United Artists)

Release Date: June 15th, 1979

Worldwide Box Office: $200.2 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Sylvester Stallone tapped into the ultimate underdog story when he penned and starred in 1976’s Rocky. It was a decidedly American tale perfectly timed to capitalize on the country’s ongoing bicentennial celebrations, which resulted in moviegoers often standing in lines several blocks long to share in the phenomenon. Three years later, Rocky II, like the Italian Stallion himself, faced the challenge of proving round one had not been a fluke. Stallone responded with another blockbuster outing, proving that his punchy, but lovable, pugilist had the legs to go the distance not only in a sequel but as the star of the ultimate American sports drama franchise. Few, if any, characters have stirred the American imagination quite like Rocky Balboa, and Rocky II holds the rare quality of being a sequel that actually enriches the story of its predecessor. –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Yo Adrian, I did it!”

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44. Bridesmaids  (2011)

Bridesmaids (Universal)

Bridesmaids (Universal)

Release Date: May 13th, 2011

Worldwide Box Office: $288.4 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Yes, women have been funny long before May of 2011. That’s not the real revelation of Bridesmaids, despite the insufferable (and, quite frankly, reductive) commentary surrounding its release. What makes the all-star comedy so impactful is how a major Hollywood blockbuster let women be women — tussles, in-fighting, diarrhea, and all. Paul Feig’s surprise hit is merciless in this capacity, running his wedding party of comics through the ringer, and it’s never not hilarious. But it works so well because the chemistry is insatiable. Sure, Melissa McCarthy is a standout, but watch this one enough times — and we all have — and you begin to see everyone steals the screen. It’s an ensemble comedy for the ages, and get ready to read that exact line in every think-piece come 2021. –Michael Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Sometimes I just wanna watch the Daily Show without him entering me.”

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43. Babe (1995)

babe 1995 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Babe (Universal)

Release Date: August 4th, 1995

Worldwide Box Office: $254.1 million

Where’s the Popcorn? “Personality goes a long way,” jokes Jules in Pulp Fiction when discussing pigs being filthy animals. Samuel L. Jackson’s character clearly needs to meet Babe the pig (voiced by the late Christine Cavanaugh), a cute porker with personality to spare. This bucolic tale of a sweet pig who escapes the dinner table by becoming a champion sheep-pig (that is, a pig who herds sheep) charmed audiences the world over in the mid-’90s by giving us something different. The film offered moviegoers a break from the rat race, plenty of cute moments and laughs, and (with believable talking animals that put more recent movies to shame) the reminder that we choose our own fate in life. That’ll do every time. –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “That’ll do, pig.”

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42. Minority Report (2002)

minority report 2002 e1438099531186 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Minority Report (DreamWorks)

Release Date: June 17th, 2002

Worldwide Box Office: $358 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Tom Cruise has basically become synonymous with “blockbusters” at this point, so it’s no surprise his first collaboration with Steven Spielberg was this sleek, futuristic neo-noir based on a 1956 sci-fi short story by Philip K. Dick where Cruise’s wrongfully accused police chief is on the run (something Cruise does well and often). With its all-star cast, philosophical themes, and impressive visuals, Minority Report stands apart in both Spielberg’s and Cruise’s filmographies as darker, headier fare than their usual output. Perhaps most chilling is the way the film’s vision of the future already closely reflects our own, from targeted advertisements to touch-screens to using controversial technologies to try to predict crimes and target suspects. And at a time when police departments around the country have been accused of overreaching their power, Minority Report’s examination of corruption, free will, and the nature of crime feels especially prescient.—Emmy Potter

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Everybody runs.”

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41. Return of the Jedi (1983)

star wars return of the jedi The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

The Return of the Jedi (20th Century Fox)

Release Date: May 25th, 1983

Worldwide Box Office: $386 million

Where’s the Popcorn? A daring escape from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt, a final stand off with the villainous Emperor, and even an Empire facing defeat at the hands of a veritable teddy bear picnic —Return of the Jedi has it all. As the final chapter of the original Star Wars trilogy, Episode VI delivers more innovative action, more playful humor, and more epiphanies and redemptions for its now-iconic cast of characters. While less-loved than the franchise’s first two entries, Jedi completes each of its major player’s arcs in style, Yub-Nubbing its way to becoming an indelible part of the blockbuster canon. –Andrew Bloom

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”

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40. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

saving private ryan The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Saving Private Ryan (DreamWorks)

Release Date: July 24th, 1998

Worldwide Box Office: $482.3 million

Where’s the Popcorn? “Omaha Beach.” “FUBAR.” “Shakespeare in Love won Best Picture.” They’re phrases nigh-impossible to bring up casually without dredging up the select desaturated horrors, casual desensitization, and gnawing trauma seared into them. That’s a gut reaction fit for a long-standing member of the modern cinematic pantheon. Saving Private Ryan fashions a gold-standard bar of heart-stopping grit and heartbreaking personalization — two parallel ends of a gradient teeming with quandaries on sacrifice and morality. One of the lasting culminations of Spielberg’s interest in capturing and commemorating World War II, the realist execution of Saving Private Ryan has informed both American intrigue for historical wars and its incessant externalization into modern media. —Sam Mwakasisi

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Someday we might look back on this and decide that saving Private Ryan was the one decent thing we were able to pull out of this whole godawful, shitty mess.”

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39. Spider-Man (2002)

spiderman 2002 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Spider-Man (Sony)

Release Date: May 3rd, 2002

Worldwide Box Office: $825 million

Where’s the Popcorn? At this point, the greatest villain in the Spider-Man franchise is the legal mumbo jumbo that continues to plague it. (Not to mention, the multiple reboots that Into the Spider-Verse capitalized on to stunning effect.) But in the Summer of 2002, all moviegoers had to think about was their friendly neighborhood superhero. How innocent! There wasn’t any connective tissue, there were no post-credits stingers, there was just the thrill of a self-contained comic book story. A thrill that turned into a lifestyle for fans that year, what with the toys, Pop Tarts, video games, and soundtracks. Since then, studios across the board have been chasing that thrill, so much so that the web is delicately thin at this point. But Sam Raimi‘s Spider-Man will keep swinging straight into our hearts, no matter how many hunks follow Tobey Maguire. –Phillip Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “With great power comes great responsibility. Remember that Pete.”

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38. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

04rockyhorror1 master1050 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (20th Century Fox)

Release Date: August 15th, 1975

Worldwide Box Office: $140.2 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Richard O’Brien’s musical science-fiction B-movie parody, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, stands apart on this list for more than just the high heels and fishnets. It’s the only blockbuster here that started out as an absolute box-office flop. Only after theaters began showing the film at midnight screenings and fans began yelling at the screen, dressing as characters, and performing the movie as shadow casts did the adaptation of the popular stage show become a blockbuster for 20th Century Fox (and now Disney). Nearly 45 years later, the film has never been out of circulation and continues to screen regularly at nearly 100 theaters across the United States and more abroad as a refuge and sanctuary for the cult film’s unconventional fan base. –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Don’t dream it. Be it”

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37. A League of Their Own (1992)

a league of their own The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

A League of Their Own (Columbia)

Release Date: July 1st, 1992

Worldwide Box Office: $132.4 million

Where’s the Popcorn? A League of Their Own was a home run for director Penny Marshall, telling a fictionalized story of the real All-American Girls Professional Baseball League who took over the diamond during World War II. Featuring a strong ensemble cast of women, and Tom Hanks in one of his best roles, it’s sweetly nostalgic and funny in all the right places. While it seemed progressive at the time, there’s a notable lack of diversity (representative of the time period) Marshall points out in a scene referencing Mamie “Peanut” Johnson, an African-American player not allowed to try out for the league. It’s an empowering story about taking chances and finding acceptance that, watched in 2020, demonstrates the importance of equal opportunity. –Jenn Adams

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Dirt in the skirt!”

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36. Ratatouille (2007)

ratatouille The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Ratatouille (Pixar)

Release Date: June 29th, 2007

Worldwide Box Office: $620 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Pixar is at its best when they’re telling simple stories within high concepts. Ratatouille follows a guy who wants to be a cook, only that guy just so happens to be a rat. And that rat, for some reason, can make a guy’s arms cook by simply pulling his hair. It’s a testament to how strong the bond between Remy and Linguini is that the mystical element doesn’t need an explanation. Yet Ratatouille burrows deeper than its initial conceit. It’s a rich story about male friendship, communication, and letting go of prejudice. More importantly, it’s about how great art can come from anyone and anywhere. It’s powerful, emotional story with lessons that kids can understand and adults need to hear.–Carrie Wittmer

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Anyone can cook!”

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35. The Sixth Sense (1999)

The Sixth Sense

The Sixth Sense (Buena Vista)

Release Date: August 6th, 1999

Worldwide Box Office: $672.8 million

Where’s the Popcorn? The rare horror Blockbuster, The Sixth Sense burst onto the scene with a quiet ferocity. M Night Shyamalan‘s breakout film showed us a softer side of Bruce Willis, and gave us a twist ending that has since become the gold standard. Enough so that it took over the cultural zeitgeist at the time, and Shyamalan would spend the next decade trying to recreate it’s magic. In fact, the film has become so synonymous with its ending that it’s easy to forget how good it is. With emotional and understated performances, The Sixth Sense made us scream, made us cry, and blew our minds in the process. –Jenn Adams

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I see dead people.”

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34. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (Buena Vista)

Release Date: July 9th, 2003

Worldwide Box Office: $654 million

Where’s the Popcorn? While the returns on the Pirates of the Caribbean films have diminished heartily in the years hence, it would be foolhardy to lump the first film in with the others. So much of that film is lightning in a bottle: Gore Verbinski‘s slapstick-driven direction, Geoffrey Rush‘s hammy supporting turn as Captain Barbossa, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley at the height of their hot-young-lead powers, and Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt’s thrumming, swashbuckling theme tune. But all of that pales in comparison to Johnny Depp’s show-stopping bluster as Jack Sparrow, a shaggy, showy lead turn that’s perfectly calibrated for the film it’s in (and would end up being irritating in all its other incarnations). After this, pirates were back on the big screen, me hearties, and we saw a strange, idiosyncratic era of blockbuster filmmaking that would tumble throughout the aughts like a loose cannonball. –Clint Worthington

Planet Hollywood Quote: “This is the day you will always remember as the day you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow!”

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33. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

the last crusade The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Paramount)

Release Date: May 24th, 1989

Worldwide Box Office: $474 million

Where’s the Popcorn? The tagline once said that if adventure had a name, it would be Indiana Jones. The intrepid archeologist is equally synonymous with the summer blockbuster, up to and including the third film in the original trilogy, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This adventure sends Indy on a quest to locate and protect the fabled Holy Grail from avaricious treasure-hunters, and pairs Indy with his gruff academic father Henry. This third film was intended as a reset from the darker, aforementioned Temple of Doom, and achieves that goal handily. Last Crusade was the last entry in the franchise to bring together all the key players, down to cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, whose eye brings a tactile quality to the excitement. Last Crusade is merely the second-best Indiana Jones movie, a fine title to hold after the original’s iconic status. –Josh Spiegel

Planet Hollywood Quote: “He chose … poorly.”

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32. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: June 4th, 2004

Worldwide Box Office: 796 million

Where’s the Popcorn? At this turning point for fans of a book series written by a problematic author, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is perhaps more significant now than ever. Azkaban is the best book in the series, but that’s not why it’s the best movie, too. It’s the best movie because Alfonso Cuaron made it his. By prioritizing visual storytelling and his interpretation over loyalty to the book and previous films, Cuaron streamlined the narrative. He also established a defining ominous, modern, and carefree tone. Unlike any other director in the Potter franchise, Cuaron executed his own vision — he didn’t simply serve as the executor of the author’s vision, applying his own insight to themes like love, loss, friendship, and death. And, of course, he added a spooky Flitwick choir. Cuaron was already a successful filmmaker in the early 2000s, but Azkaban sped up his success and the world of Potter opened up Cuaron’s thirst for experimentation in his career moving forward. Without it, there is no Children of Men, nor Gravity, nor Roma. Even so, Azkaban is one of Cuaron’s best films to date, and it contains the best depiction of time travel on film (that also transcends the material). And finally, don’t listen to what anybody else tells you: that final freeze frame is good. –Carrie Wittmer

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Expecto Patronum!”

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31. Speed (1994)

speed keanu reeves The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Speed (20th Century Fox)

Release Date: June 10th, 1994

Worldwide Box Office: $350 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Looking back now, it’s clear that the biggest media star of 1994 wasn’t a person, but a setting — specifically, the tangle of freeways that girdle Los Angeles. Released just a week before O.J. Simpson’s infamous flight from police introduced the phrase “white Ford Bronco” into the vernacular of millions viewing at home, Speed used those same roads to answer an age-old Hollywood question: If the car chase is the best part of an action movie, why not make the whole movie the car chase? Anchored by a perfectly cast leading trio (including Sandra Bullock in her breakout role and a classically unhinged Dennis Hopper) and propelled along by gripping stunts and practical effects, Speed won the summer at a steady 50 miles per hour. Once you see it, you’ll never look at a bus the same again. –Tyler Clark

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Pop quiz, hotshot. There’s a bomb on a bus. Once the bus goes 50 miles an hour, the bomb is armed. If it drops below 50, it blows up. What do you do? What do you do?”

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30. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Buena Vista)

Release Date: June 22nd, 1988

Worldwide Box Office: $329.8 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Some adults won’t plunk down money to see a cartoon on principle. They’re under the assumption that animation must be for children. Well, god help the kids (um, yeah, that was us) who dragged our parents to see Who Framed Roger Rabbit back in the day, then. This remarkably dark Robert Zemeckis feature mixes classic and brand-new cartoon characters into a blend of animation and live-action film noir, where Bob Hoskins plays a drunk detective with demons hired to clear the name of, you guessed it, Roger Rabbit. Not only did the film capture imaginations and fuel childhood nightmares (thanks, Christopher Lloyd), but it also helped lead to a late ’80s renaissance in animated film-making. –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “If you ain’t got a sense of humor, you’re better off dead.”

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29. Finding Nemo (2003)

 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Finding Nemo (Pixar)

Release Date: May 30th, 2003

Worldwide Box Office: $871 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Finding Nemo not only forced innumerable numbers of parents to make ill-advised clownfish purchases for their children but also showed the box office adrenaline of Pixar. The studio’s star had long been ascending with hit after hit, but Finding Nemo’s blend of gorgeous aquatic animation, heartfelt storytelling, and brilliant comedic timing made it a crossover hit for all ages. The movie had ample time to build its audience with marketing beginning nearly two years prior to its release, including a brief appearance in Monster’s Inc., which would become a common strategy for future Pixar releases. Beyond that, it’s one of the only movies to inspire an entire generation of marine biologists this side of George Costanza. –Kyle Cubr

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Just keep swimming.”

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28. Apollo 13 (1995)

Apollo 13

Apollo 13 (Universal)

Release Date: June 30th, 1995

Worldwide Box Office: $355.2 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Perhaps one of the most traditional entries on this list, Apollo 13 is old-fashioned for sure. A reasonably high-priced studio epic with big-name leads, state-of-the-art VFX, and a high-concept rescue story that sold itself mightily with the tagline alone. James Horner music swells. Ron Howard helms with a level of sincere gumption not seen from the director since. This is oldey-but-goodie movie stuff right here. Actually, let me put it another way: This was a movie I could see with the grandparents, and we all had a good time. –Blake Goble

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Houston, we have a problem.”

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27. Ghost (1990)

ghost 1990 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Ghost (Paramount)

Release Date: July 13th, 1990

Worldwide Box Office: $505.7 million

Where’s the Popcorn? In 1990, a summer romance starring gorgeous human beings Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore definitely had the chance to scare up big bucks at the box office. That’s why it was still surprising (despite trailers and the title) when Swayze’s character, Sam, gets murdered shortly into the film. The movie then becomes about Sam’s desperate attempt to warn Molly (Moore) that she’s in grave danger with the help of phony psychic Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) in what turns into an unexpected buddy comedy. Audiences around the globe ate up the hilarious Swayze-Goldberg shtick, and we’re still talking today about the steamiest love scene ever featuring a pottery wheel. Oh, my love… –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Ditto.”

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26. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project (Artisan)

The Blair Witch Project (Artisan)

Release Date: July 14th, 1999

Worldwide Box Office: $248.6 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Gotta love a marketing campaign that delivers. When The Blair Witch Project left the woods in the summer of 1999, the novelty of whether this was fact or fiction drove millions of moviegoers into theaters nationwide, making it one of the most successful independent films of its time. But, to the credit of directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez, the film made good on Artisan’s smoke and mirrors, giving the most cynical horror hounds a case of PTSD. Since then, countless imitators have popped up, but very few cast as tough a spell as Heather Donahue’s lost documentary. –Michael Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “We’re gonna die out here.”

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25. Do the Right Thing (1989)

Spike Lee in "Do the Right Thing"

Do the Right Thing (Universal)

Release Date: July 21st, 1989

Worldwide Box Office: $37.3 million

Where’s the Popcorn? 2020 has yet again revealed Do the Right Thing’s eternal, blistering prescience to a new and still-naïve American public. When tensions and temperatures rise, something goes off. But step aside from the relevance of Spike Lee’s first megahit for just a minute, Do the Right Thing is still a damn good piece of entertainment. A vibrant, word-of-mouth hit, bursting with energy, characters, and charisma. From the explosive intro credits set to Public Enemy, to its feisty mid-movie harangue on race and other escalating tensions, to Lee’s absolutely brutal and heart-breaking close, Do the Right Thing sizzles non-stop. No car chases, no obvious set pieces, just a showcase on how to keep audiences on the edge of their seats through other means. –Blake Goble

Planet Hollywood Quote: Da Mayor: “Doctor…”

Mookie: “C’mon, what. What?”

Da Mayor: “Always do the right thing.”

Mookie: “That’s it?”

Da Mayor: “That’s it.”

Mookie: “I got it, I’m gone.”

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24. The Fugitive (1993)

The Fugitive

The Fugitive (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: August 3rd, 1993

Worldwide Box Office: $368.9 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Sure, people had fallen from high places before The Fugitive, but had anyone willingly jumped off a dam? The answer is: Who cares? The Fugitive seemed fresh in the early ’90s, and it’s still breath-taking and fascinatingly modern today. Between extremely convincing turns by Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones and one-time Paul Verhoeven muse Jeron Krabbé; a savvy and sly script by David Twohy and Jeb Stuart; and Andrew Davis’ most sober direction, no one much minded that this was a movie based on a flashy, forgettable TV show from the golden age of flashy, forgettable TV shows. The Fugitive is a thoughtful, pensive sort of blockbuster — as close as million-dollar action picture could come to genuine interiority and rigorous process-based cinema — that had its cake and ate it, too. –Scout Tafoya

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I didn’t kill my wife!” “I don’t care!”

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23. Batman Returns (1992)

batman returns e1511987406814 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Batman Returns (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: June 16th, 1992

Worldwide Box Office: $283 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Much of Batman Returns centers on the existence of “two truths” for everyone involved. Each of the film’s characters, from Batman himself to his colleagues and adversaries, leads some sort of double life. That adds intrigue when it mixes and matches these different guises in each electric scene. But the movie itself, and its greatness, emerge from another set of twin-identities. Returns is both a cinematic tribute to the Dark Knight, full of his traditional rogues gallery and iconography, and also a full-blown Tim Burton picture, replete with gothic imagery and misfit toys. It’s that central combination and tension that establishes the film as the high water mark for this era of The Bat on the big screen. –Andrew Bloom

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Life’s a bitch. Now, so am I.”

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22. The Truman Show (1998)

Jim Carrey in The Truman Show

The Truman Show (Paramount)

Release Date: June 5th, 1998

Worldwide Box Office: $264.1 million

Where’s the Popcorn? The Truman Show is like a sneak attack summer film. In 1998 you had dueling meteor flicks, a new Riggs and Murtaugh, and other over-priced distractions. Eddie Murphy was in full-on family mode with his Dr. Dolittle remake, so why would Jim Carrey do anything but speak from his ass? Yes, it made plenty of money, and the reviews were great, but The Truman Show is an eerily prescient and lasting work of breezy science fiction fantasy that challenged mainstream audiences to think a little harder. Peter Weir’s dramedy looked and felt like a summer vacation, but holy crap is this thing downright creepy and prophetic. This was more than cheap laughs from a master comic at the peak of his popularity. Here’s a work of popular art that still chills. –Blake Goble

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.”

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21. Aliens (1986)

ALIENS The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Aliens (20th Century Fox)

Release Date: July 18th, 1986

Worldwide Box Office: $131-183 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Turning a creepy, atmospheric haunted-house-in-space horror movie, especially one like Ridley Scott’s classic 1979 Alien, into a rock-’em-sock-’em action picture is a dicey proposition at the best of times. But in the hands of James Cameron and a returning, Oscar-nominated Sigourney Weaver, Aliens managed to take the franchise into exciting new genre territory. What happens when the xenomorph faces not a half-dozen exhausted space truckers, but a squad of well-armed military grunts? Turns out, pretty much the same blood, guts, and gore as last time. But this time, Cameron updated the post-Watergate politics of the first into an acid-splattered treatise on the hubris of the Vietnam War and a personal story about facing your personal traumas and overcoming them. Plus, it paved the way for every single Space Marine sci-fi actioner from here on out. Game over, man, game over! –Clint Worthington

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Get away from her, you bitch!”

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20. Clueless (1995)

clueless The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Clueless (Paramount)

Release Date: July 19th, 1995

Worldwide Box Office: $56.6 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Just like in the world of fashion, there’s no accounting for every trend. Filmmaker Amy Heckerling’s Clueless was largely given no chance to succeed at the box office — that is, until people actually began seeing it and immediately were smitten by Cher Horowitz and her Beverly Hills crew. As Wallace Shawn (the film’s Mr. Hall) observes, the movie somehow paradoxically succeeds as both satire and a celebration of these characters. Music supervisor Karyn Rachtman suggests that both its immediate appeal and longevity might stem from the movie being a unique mash-up of enduring elements from Emma’s structure and valley slang to plaid skirts and ’80s pop songs. Whatever the case, Clueless remains the Louis Vuitton of teen movies a quarter century later. –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “As if!!!”

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19. Ghostbusters (1984)

Ghostbusters (Columbia)

Ghostbusters (Columbia)

Release Date: June 8th, 1984

Worldwide Box Office: $296,304,590

Where’s the Popcorn? There’s a line in the jail scene where the Ghostbusters are discussing the architecture of Dana Barrett’s (Sigourney Weaver) apartment. Bill Murray’s iconic Peter Venkman says, “So what? I guess they just don’t make ’em like they used to, huh?” Ray (Dan Aykroyd) smacks him upside the head and declares, “No! Nobody ever made them like this! I mean, the architect was either a certified genius or an authentic whacko.” That, is Ghostbusters. No one had ever slammed horror, sci-fi, and comedy into such a hybrid hit. No one had ever spun a singular cinematic concept into such a lucrative franchise of cartoons, toys, and sequels. No one had ever built such trust and joy in such an outrageous plot that making a giant marshmallow monster stomping through New York City the climactic centerpiece actually worked. With career-defining performances, crafty effects, and an endlessly quotable script, Ghostbusters transcended the working-class confines of its heroes to become a rare pop culture touchstone. So if you wonder why so many major blockbusters strive for outsized retail marketing ploys, branding, and spin-offs, well, you know who ya gonna call. –Ben Kaye

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!”

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18. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

spider man tobey The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Spider-Man (Sony)

Release Date: June 30th, 2004

Worldwide Box Office: $788,976,453

Where’s the Popcorn? There have been six Spidey flicks in the 16 years since Sam Raimi’s masterpiece Spider-Man 2, and none have topped it. Even in the Marvel-led blockbuster revolution, there hasn’t been a superhero movie that touches the near perfection of this one. Raimi imbues a truly comic book-y plot with every level of heart, fun, fright, romance, and redemption, all balanced inside his unique lens. The hero’s journey that sees Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) doubting his role as do-gooder and potentially losing his chance at the love of his life (Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson) just as an empathetic madman is about to destroy the city is quintessential Spider-Man. Yet if you strip away the webs and mechanical arms, it’s the sort of strong character arc that makes us root for any true hero. Amidst monumental set-pieces, smaller moments like an unmasked Spider-Man saving a train full of New Yorkers only to have them quietly do the same for him elevate this comic adaptation to top tier blockbuster ranks. —Ben Kaye

Planet Hollywood Quote: “I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble. And finally allows us to die with pride. Even though sometimes we have to be steady and give up the thing we want the most, even our dreams.”

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17. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Universal)

Release Date: June 11th, 1982

Worldwide Box Office: $792.9 million

Where’s the Popcorn? In 1982, Spielberg ascended to God Emperor of Box Office with a summer release that nearly doubled the income of his previous flicks. The ticket sales must flow! And E.T. was a film aimed at younger audiences no less, during an era when conventional wisdom taught kid’s movies don’t sell well. Spielberg, ever the marketing genius, toyed with this formula by adding in profanity to bump the MPAA rating up from G to PG. Well, that’s just clever as shit! Perhaps the biggest indicator of a film’s blockbuster status is how it impacts those who haven’t seen it. The blockbuster was such a zeitgeisty juggernaut that even people who avoided theatres still associated Reese’s Pieces with the lovable little guy from space, proving Spielberg has absolute power. –Dan Pfleegor

Planet Hollywood Quote: “E.T. phone home.”

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16. Inglorious Basterds (2009)

inglourious basterds 70 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Inglorious Basterds (The Weinstein Company)

Release Date: May 20th, 2009

Worldwide Box Office: $321.5 million

Where’s the Popcorn? There’s a lot of pressure to the “Written and Directed by” moniker, and very few filmmakers wear it with the casual swagger of Quentin Tarantino. Case in point: Inglorious Basterds. For nearly three hours, the Oscar-winning scribe leaves audiences wanting more, and he accomplishes this by spreading the wealth across his sprawling war epic. It’s a film fueled by mostly non-principle roles — from Michael Fassbender’s Lt. Archie Hicox to Mélanie Laurent’s Shoshanna Dreyfus — all of whom reign supreme within every frame. And given Tarantino’s predilection to character, this revolving motley crew of iconic heroes, villains, and legitimate basterds is simply eye candy from start to finish. Ooh, that’s a bingo. –Phillip Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “You probably heard we ain’t in the prisoner-takin’ business; we in the killin’ Nazi business. And cousin, business is a-boomin’.”

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15. Die Hard (1988)

die hard The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Die Hard (20th Century Fox)

Release Date: July 15th, 1988

Worldwide Box Office: $141,482,154

Where’s the Popcorn? With an improbable lead actor, a butt load of C4, and glass-shredded feet, Die Hard kicked the action movie into the ’90s. Prior to director John McTiernan’s close-quarters everyman story, action stars were musclebound ubermen like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone — who were both offered the role of John McClane, incidentally. Bruce Willis, by contrast, was known for television comedies. Putting him in the role of a resourceful loner up against impossible odds made the hero far more relatable. It shows when he gets hurt, but he keeps pushing because, well, he dies hard. His advisory, played by a revelatory Alan Rickman, is formidable because of his devious intelligence, not some psychotic need for chaos and destruction. That good-bad dichotomy, where the villain holds all the cards and the hero is positioned to lose, gave fresh understanding to what the genre could be. It ushered in a new era of action films, many of which are still trying to scale the heights of Nakatomi Plaza even today. —Ben Kaye

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Yippie ki yay, motherfucker.”

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14. Shaft (1971)

shaft 1971 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Shaft (MGM)

Release Date: June 25th, 1971

Worldwide Box Office: 12 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Listen, we’re only trying to talk about Shaft. Consider the landscape pre-Shaft. The detective was reserved for well-paid, white working-class fellas in the vein of Eastwood or Newman. And while Sidney Poiter earned his badge in the late ‘60s, he was working in earnest Oscar bait. Shaft was all summer swagger. A black detective with this level of commercial success and presence in the pop lexicon rang louder than a bomb, and Richard Roundtree’s iconic private dick who was a sex machine with all the chicks struck a nerve, making 24 times its production budget and inspiring a trilogy of hit movies. Oh, and one super fucking sexy title track from Isaac Hayes didn’t hurt either. So, we know they say this Shaft is a bad mother. But it bears repeating: He really was, is, and will always be a black action icon. Can you dig it? –Blake Goble

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Don’t let your mouth get your ass in trouble.”

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13. The Lion King (1994)

the lion king The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

The Lion King (Walt Disney)

Release Date: June 15th, 1994

Worldwide Box Office: $968.5 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Arguably the apex of the Disney Renaissance of the late 80s and 90s, The Lion King pulls you in with the sweeping grandeur of its African landscapes and the clarion call of the iconic opening notes of “The Circle of Life”, then leaves you with one of Disney’s most moving films about family, legacy, and (all puns intended) pride. The Lion King features all the classic Disney elements from talking animals to a literary-inspired plot (Hamlet anyone?) but its Elton John-penned score, gorgeous animation, and talented all-star voice cast elevate this one as high as Rafiki holding Young Simba above Pride Rock. Undoubtedly one of the most successful Disney films of all time, the movie also has a long-running legacy on Broadway with its Tony Award-winning stage adaptation. Feels good to be the King. —Emmy Potter

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Hakuna Matata!”

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12. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The Empire Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back (20th Century Fox)

Release Date: May 21st, 1980

Worldwide Box Office: 547 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Is The Empire Strikes Back the greatest sequel of all time? Probably. It certainly met and exceeded the already-high expectations set by Star Wars, deepening and complicating life in a galaxy far, far away without sacrificing the swashbuckling fun and wisecracking charm that helped elevate the original from just another space opera. I’ll give Quick Stop employee and film buff Dante Hicks the last word: “Empire had the better ending. Luke loses his hand and finds out Vader is his father. Han is frozen and captured by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. Just like in real life. All Jedi had was a bunch of Muppets.” –Tyler Clark

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Do or do not. There is no try.”

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11. The Dark Knight (2008)

dark knight christian bale batman

The Dark Knight (Warner Bros.)

Release Date: July 18th, 2008

Worldwide Box Office: 1.005 billion

Where’s the Popcorn? Where to even begin with the uber-mega-monster blockbuster that was The Dark Knight? Like, the money was nice, but it was the high-impact, breathlessly plotted, extremely-strong use of an intellectual property that continues to make Nolan’s classic bad boy actioner a sure thing in the halls of popcorn classics. Yes, the Bat Man’s seen his share of hits ranging from the gothic (Returns) to the straight up giddy (Bat-nipples, Prince music, the involvement of Christopher Walken). But Nolan took Bob Kane’s eternal antihero and made a spectacular crime drama out of the material. Stunts we’re still scratching our heads at, and revenues not normally reserved for movies this heavy on the plot. It made byzantine narratives almost cool. And Heath Ledger, for better or worse, still puts a smile on the face.–Blake Goble

Planet Hollywood Quote: “It’s simple. We uh, kill, the Batman.”

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10. Back to the Future (1985)

Back to the Future

Back to the Future (Universal)

Release Date: July 3rd, 1985

Worldwide Box Office: 389.1 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Nothing about Back to the Future shouts blockbuster. Yes, it’s a science-fiction adventure, but one only interested in a single family tree and a small town of no consequence to anyone else; the stakes are huge but on about as small a scale imaginable for a would-be blockbuster. Yes, it’s a coming-of-age tale (though one that needs to travel back to press forward), a father-son story flipped on its head, maybe the most problematic ’80s love story this side of Big, and a buddy comedy between a slacker teen and a geriatric mad scientist. Ya know, that old, tried-and-true formula. And yet, Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis’ time-traveling adventure about a teen who accidentally goes back in time and rewrites his family’s history for the better feels like a classic story as old as time itself. The best ones always do. –Matt Melis

Planet Hollywood Quote: “History is gonna change.”

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09. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (Paramount)

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (Paramount)

Release Date: June 12th, 1981

Worldwide Box Office: 389.9 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Raiders of the Lost Ark remains one of cinema’s best crafted blockbusters. Today, blockbusters are either too serious or overtly ironic. Few demonstrate the easeful comedy of Raiders. John Williams’ malleable score — swinging between swooning romance to lighthearted fare and soaring heroism — solidifies scenes that could suffer from the shake of their tonal shifts. Raiders also features one of the best opening scenes ever, a bid for patient myth building through the rush of a boulder, and one of Harrison Ford’s most memorable performances. –Robert Daniels

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”

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08. The Shining (1980)

The Shining, Warner Bros. Pictures

The Shining (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Release Date: May 23rd, 1980

Worldwide Box Office: $46.2 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Clearly, The Shining isn’t your average blockbuster. It’s an isolated chamber piece set in the high mountains of Colorado with three disparate souls surrounded by stoic ghouls. Behind the camera? The merciless Stanley Kubrick, who had zero interest in playing to the crowd. None of that screams popcorn, candy, and soda. Yet in May of 1980, Warner Bros.’ cold, labyrinthine Stephen King adaptation axed its way through the competition — ahem, The Empire Strikes Back — to secure the third highest-grossing opening weekend for a film released on less than 50 screens. (The film got 10!) Needless to say, this was a word-of-mouth phenomenon — like all iconic horror should be — but also a brilliant case of counterprogramming. –Michael Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

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07. Inception (2010)

Inception (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Inception (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Release Date: July 16, 2010

Worldwide Box Office: $829.9 million

Where’s the Popcorn? It’s 2002, you just finished working with both Al Pacino and Robin Williams, and you’re at the apex of your career. So, what’s next? You keep on dreaming. That’s more or less what Christopher Nolan did after he delivered an 80-page treatment to Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures about “dream stealers.” And so, after an extended detour into Gotham City and a brief stint as a magician, Nolan delivered his quintessential, game-changing masterpiece: Inception. Even at the time it felt like a declaration of his MO, and everyone was listening, which is why it became an Oscar all-star the following year. Today, exactly a decade later, we can literally chart its contagious influence across dozens upon dozens of blockbusters in its wake. None of which is surprising; after all, as the film posits, a great idea is like a virus… –Phillip Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “An idea is like a virus, resilient, highly contagious. The smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you.”

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06. Star Wars (1977)

Peter Mayhew, Harrison Ford, Star Wars

Star Wars (Lucasfilm)

Release Date: May 25, 1977

Worldwide Box Office: $775 million

Where’s the Popcorn? If you went back in time and told someone who worked on Star Wars that the little space movie they’re working on would launch one of the most successful, influential, and groundbreaking feats in storytelling and film history, they would have believed the time travel part but not the latter. With a small budget and no name actors, the weirdo western in space — whose first act focuses on two droids (an exasperating gold butler, and one who does not even talk) — wasn’t supposed to be a blockbuster, and no one expected it to be. But Star Wars proved that complex characters, tight storytelling, iconic imagery, a sprawling universe, and Harrison Ford can really strike an (emotional, nerdy) nerve with a lot of people. –Carrie Wittmer

Planet Hollywood Quote: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

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05. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

terminator 2 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Carolco)

Release Date: July 3rd, 1991

Worldwide Box Office:520.8 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Terminator 2: Judgement Day was a cultural phenomenon. The eagerly anticipated sequel to the 1984 original saw Arnold Schwarzenegger and a buff Linda Hamilton reprise their roles, expanding the world to include the nefarious Cyberdyne Systems and a young John Conner (Edward Furlong). Nearly 30 years later, it’s easy to forget that Arnie’s turn as the hero was a shocking twist at the time, but T2 masterfully honored the original while simultaneously turning it on its head. With groundbreaking special effects and one of the best chase sequences ever committed to film, T2 solidified the iconic image of an action hero in Arnold and gave us one liners that would sift through pop culture for years. –Jenn Adams

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Hasta la vista, baby.”

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04. Jaws (1975)

jaws 1975 The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Jaws (Universal)

Release Date: June 20, 1975

Worldwide Box Office: $470.7 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Basically, there are two categories of blockbusters: Everything Before Jaws and Everything After Jaws. The prototype for modern blockbusters, Spielberg’s colossal hit about a colossal shark terrorizing the beaches of a New England resort town changed Hollywood completely in the summer of 1975, ushering in the wide release and making a household name of the young director. While the film is first and foremost a creature feature in the grand tradition of 1950s B-movies, it’s also become a sharp commentary on political corruption (opening beaches too soon sound familiar?) and various forms of masculinity. Come for the iconic two-note theme by national treasure John Williams and stay for the 1-2-3 punch of Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, and Robert Shaw getting friendly with a great white shark. Hey, Amity, as you know, means friendship! —Emmy Potter

Planet Hollywood Quote: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

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03. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

mad max theron The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Release Date: May 15, 2015

Worldwide Box Office: $375 million

Where’s the Popcorn? Mad Max: Fury Road was an impossible accomplishment. The 70-year-old director of Happy Feet revitalizing his gonzo post-apocalyptic action franchise with Tom Hardy decades later is one thing; that it’d become one of the most visceral, innovative, playful, influential action films of the 21st century is quite another. Paved along the long, film-length car chase that comprises Miller’s dystopic vision are a host of beautifully balletic bouts of violence anchored by Charlize Theron’s resolute Imperator Furiosa, to be sure. But among the burnt-orange sands and economical storytelling thrums the V8 engine of a bona fide cinema classic, one that thumbs its nose at the safe, CG-addled playgrounds of its contemporaries. That it’s a powerful call to action against patriarchy and fascism is just the shiny, chrome icing on the nutrient cake. –Clint Worthington

Planet Hollywood Quote: “What a lovely day!”

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02. Alien (1979)

Sigourney Weaver, Alien

Alien (20th Century Fox)

Release Date: May 25th, 1979

Worldwide Box Office: $203.6 million

Where’s the Popcorn? The cast of Ridley Scott’s Alien is incredible. Even if you’ve never watched Scott’s masterpiece, certain scenes are stapled into pop culture (see: the chest bursting sequence). Only 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, and Star Wars feature ships as memorable as the Nostromo. The creature’s design, that chrome head, the exposed vertebrae monster with its tiny million teeth, dripping with human-chewing acid, remains etched in nightmares. If Scott’s Alien were merely a good movie, it would still stand as an epic blockbuster, but with the casting of Weaver, as the ultimate action-movie heroine Ripley, it remains iconic. –Robert Daniels

Planet Hollywood Quote: “This is Ripley, last survivor of the Nostromo, signing off.”

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01 . Jurassic Park (1993)

jurassic park 3d t rex The 100 Greatest Summer Blockbuster Movies of All Time

Jurassic Park (Universal)

Release Date: June 11, 1993

Worldwide Box Office: $1.02 billion dollars

Where’s the Popcorn? If you couldn’t tell by now, Steven Spielberg knows a thing or two about the blockbuster. After changing the game with 1975’s Jaws, the filmmaker relentlessly set the bar even higher for himself in the years following. He signaled aliens, he made archaeology sexy, he proved kids can carry a movie by themselves. By the mid-’80s, Spielberg presided over a resume that could have easily withstood the test of time, even for sheer box office receipts alone. So, it’s downright staggering to consider that arguably his greatest triumph came so late in his career, and that’s 1993’s Jurassic Park.

When you consider the elements, there is no greater blockbuster, and certainly few (if any) this universal. Bottom line: We all love dinosaurs. It doesn’t matter where you’re from or when you’re from — we all have a dinosaur stage. Mostly because we all come to the same confounding realization: How the fuck did these things actually exist? And to quote Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcom: He did it. The son of a bitch did it. For 126 minutes during that summer (and every summer thereafter), Spielberg, leaning on every magic trick he had learned up until that point, managed to make us actually believe dinosaurs existed.


But, as we’ve seen with the film’s piss-poor followups, Spielberg did far more than that: He remastered the blockbuster blueprint, and Michael Crichton’s novel gave him all the goods. It’s as if the late author always had Spielberg in mind. The archaeologist and those bratty neighborhood kids? Pair ’em together. The monster in the water? How about a dozen on land? The armchair intellectualism that never went — to borrow from Laura Dern’s Elle Sattler — over our heads? All in tact — and some. This novel was a total gift for Spielberg, and he treated it like the Star Wars he had always wanted, even despite his successes.

And it’s a total upgrade on the Spielberg formula: Whereas Bruce the Shark huffed and puffed to the finish line in Jaws, Stan Winston and ILM gracefully soared to a harrowing finale on full display. John Williams, by then standing similarly tall, delivered what might be his most cohesive score to date (at least with regards to singularity). And the cast? So unorthodox and yet so ingrained into the characters that it’s near impossible to see any one of them without a faint memory of their lines. Much like John Hammond, Spielberg spared no expense through it all, and the film’s timeless nature speaks for itself.


It’s patient, it’s quotable, it’s smart, it’s thrilling: Jurassic Park readjusted the bar that Jaws set for the summer blockbuster, and it has not been lifted since. Studios went bigger and failed. Studios went longer and failed. Studios went for more of the same and failed. Maybe not at the box office, sure, but in spirit, in tone, and in legacy? Absolutely. Decades later, and hyperbole be damned, Jurassic Park remains the standard for comparison. It’s in the DNA. This is a blockbuster about creating a blockbuster — a commentary on the Universal model … distributed by Universal — and it’s never cynical about that fact.

Instead, like all of us, the film’s in awe of its own imagination. –Michael Roffman

Planet Hollywood Quote: “Life finds a way”

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