Summer movie champs since 1975

Scenes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, The Dark Knight, and Pirates Of The...

Scenes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, The Dark Knight, and Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:31 PM ET

It’s no accident that, in the top 200 top-grossing films of all time, there are only three films that pre-date 1975’s Jaws – the father of the summer blockbuster.

And all three, Gone With The Wind, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs and The Exorcist, were released around Christmas.

You’d have thought that a date with an air-conditioned theatre was a no-brainer. But until the residents of Amity Island became shark food, the concept of the summer blockbuster was alien to moviegoers.

But within two years, Spielberg’s Jaws would be joined by his buddy George Lucas’s Star Wars, both of which would end up in the billion-dollar-worldwide club.

So with The Avengers, The Hunger Games, Twilight, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises fueling what looks to be the biggest summer box office ever, here’s a round-up of summer movie champs from 1975 onward.

1975 – Jaws

1976 – The Omen

1977 – Star Wars

1978 – Grease

1979 – The Amityville Horror

1980 – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

1981 – Raiders Of The Lost Ark

1982 - ET: The Extraterrestrial

1983 – Star Wars: The Return Of The Jedi

1984 – Ghostbusters

1985 – Back To The Future

1986 – Top Gun

1987 – Beverly Hills Cop 2

1988 – Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

1989 – Batman

1990 – Ghost

1991 – Terminator 2: Judgment Day

1992 – Batman Returns

1993 – Jurassic Park

1994 – Forrest Gump

1995 – Batman Forever

1996 – Independence Day

1997 – Men In Black

1998 – Armageddon

1999 – Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace

2000 – Mission: Impossible 2

2001 – Shrek

2002 – Spider-Man

2003 – Finding Nemo

2004 – Spider-Man 2

2005 – Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith

2006 – Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

2007 – Spider-Man 3

2008 – The Dark Knight

2009 – Harry Potter And The Half Blood Prince

2010 – Toy Story 3

2011 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

 

FLava of the decade

1970s – Star Wars. Yes, Jaws introduced people to the idea of the summer blockbuster, but George Lucas’ contribution to the genre also introduced us to the geek nation, and pushed both sci-fi and FX to the frontlines of pop culture, where they are today.

1980s – ET: The Extraterrestrial. Steven Spielberg’s MVP year (he also produced Poltergeist). It also encapsulated the Master’s unflaggingly positive worldview, in which intelligent life exists and it’s cuddly and cute and suburb-friendly. Later he would make the movie even cuddlier, airbrushing out G-Men’s guns and replacing them with walkie talkies.

1990s – Terminator 2: Judgment Day. One word – “Boom!” A lot of things would explode onscreen in the decade, but Jim Cameron was first and best with a new Canadian-made “morphing” technology and a dark, dystopian worldview. It’s worth noting that, with Titanic, Cameron would begin and end the decade as the King of the Box Office, if not the world.

2000s – Spider-Man 3. Only two years in the ‘00s would see a non-sequel win the summer, Spider-Man and Shrek. But for better or worse (okay, worse) Spider-Man 3’s year was the hardest-fought sequel year ever, with Shrek 3 and Pirates Of The Caribbean At World’s End (a.k.a Pirates 3). Between them they gobbled up more than 90% of available screens, leaving audiences with little to choose from. A portent of things to come.

 


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