A Look Back At The All Time Greatest Summer Blockbusters

As we all know it’s summer blockbuster season and we have already looked at what may be the big movies of the summer and we know that The Avengers has already set the opening weekend box office record but that doesn’t necessarily make it the best summer blockbuster of all time. Let’s take a look back and see what has been the best summer blockbuster which doesn’t exactly mean the biggest either.

We will examine the top 5 all-time best summer blockbusters ever. These are movies that have transcended generations of viewers and have stood the test of time not just what was a big money maker when it arrived. Here is the list 10-1 let the debating begin.


10. Alien

Ridley Scott’s epic sci-fi tale proved to be his breakout film even though he had a well received debut feature film with The Duelist. It was a terrifying adventure unlike anything that had been seen before. With a great cast, Alien made a star out of it’s director an lead, Sigourney Weaver. The futuristic tale of blue collar workers in space who come across a breading ground for the most violent and scary aliens seen on screen to that point instantly became a phenomenon. Alien had made an impact with memorable scenes like the birth of the alien through the stomach of John Hurt and left fans clamoring for more which they most definitely would get.

 9. Terminator 2

James Cameron’s follow up to his breakout feature, The Terminator, 7 years after it’s initial release. Fan’s had been waiting all 7 years for a follow up to what, at that time, was the greatest action movie ever. Turning things around and introducing an enemy whom seemed to be invincible and making the former villain the now hero was a great move. The further development of the story and more details made it a much more engaging story to go along with it’s great action and groundbreaking effects.

 8. Braveheart

Mel Gibson’s second directing effort has gone down in film history and continues to be as powerful as it was on May 24, 1995. It is considered by many to be the greatest “Guy Movie” of all time, yet the love William Wallace had for his wife and what it drove him to do is also considered by many women to be the greatest love shown on screen. Bringing back the epic film is something that is not overlooked on Gibson’s greatest cinematic achievement and the epic film shows no signs of going away. the same cannot be said for Gibson’s career and credibility.

 7. The Dark Knight

Without a doubt the most recent film on our list but that does not take away from how great this movie was. Anchored unquestionably by Heath Ledger’s performance, which may be in a top 5 list of greatest performances ever, it was a truly engaging and compelling movie. The Dark Knight is quite possibly the greatest superhero/comic book movie ever and continues to be as the genre grows and gets more popular. It’s action and terrific character development, combined with having scenes shot with an IMAX camera and making the most of it. While it was a crying shame that Ledger wasn’t able to enjoy his and it’s success, there is no better film for him to be fondly remembered for.

6. Jurassic Park

The movie that wowed movie goers all summer long with it’s outstanding special effects the brought the term CGI into the national vocabulary. With a great adaptation to Michael Crichton’s best selling novel, Jurassic Park thrilled audiences and kept everyone coming back for more all summer long.

 5. Batman (1989)

Tim Burton brought to life his favorite comic book hero reviving the comic book genre in grand fashion. Staring Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Jack Nicholson as The Joker now ranks second to Ledger’s but was still as haunting. With screen shots almost directly out of the comic book, Burton’s Batman is still among one of the best of the genre and proved to not only be a high grossing, great film but a marketing masterpiece.

4. Back To The Future

Michael J. Fox was already a household name with his daytime job on TV’s Family Ties but Back To The Future catapulted him into super stardom. A movie that has become a staple of the decade of the 80’s despite taking place almost entirely in the 50’s. With a memorable and greatly original script and a theme song to go along with it, Back To The Future quickly became one of the most beloved films of all time.

 3. Raiders Of The Lost Ark

We declared this movie the greatest adventure film of all time. A great story, exotic locations and a leading man that is loved equally by men and women. No boy went and saw this movie and didn’t come out cracking a whip and wanting a fedora hat. Indiana Jones went down as one of the greatest heroes in cinema and it all started with Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

 2. Star Wars (1977)

The greatest sci-fi movie ever and the ultimate space adventure took a nation by storm not only on the screen but in toy boxes, on t-shirts and on lunch boxes in every school in America. George Lucas cemented his legacy while taking the country by storm with some of the greatest character and alien creations ever and costumes that everyone wanted a piece of. Anyone could make a very strong and legitimate claim to make this number one but we have reasons that make this number 2.

 1. Jaws

Jaws, plain and simple, created what is now summer blockbuster season. It made everyone afraid to go into the water the whole summer it was out and for many more years to come. Jaws is the original summer blockbuster. It made Steven Spielberg’s career and proved to all future films that even a special effects movie can be a GREAT movie. It is a film that has been thrust into the annals of box office legends setting records never before thought of, let alone seen. Jaws also gave the disaster movie a new enemy to fight, mother nature’s beast of the ocean. Perfectly cast and with as great a background story as is on the screen, it will terrify new viewers for generations to come.

We understand we couldn’t include more and that many of you will have your own choices so we decided to create and honorable mention list for some that weren’t quite top 10 quality but still were worthy.


Toy Story

Independence Day

Men In Black

Top Gun

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77 thoughts on “A Look Back At The All Time Greatest Summer Blockbusters”

  1. Great list! Alien is a brilliant little sci-fi thriller, and of course, I’m glad to see The Dark Knight make it into the top ten. It truly is a masterpiece – I’ve seen some awesome superhero flicks, but Nolan’s film still holds its place at the top. 🙂

    Was Gladiator a summer blockbuster? I personally think it’s superior to Braveheart, but I’m not sure if it enjoyed the same success.

  2. jaws holds a special place for me because it was the first time i read a book and then saw the movie.

    however, if i had to see only one movie from that list, it’d be tough to pick between raiders and back to the future.

    god dammit anyway!

  3. First of all, would you believe that I’ve never seen BRAVEHEART? Okay, there goes my credibility out the window right there…

    Much as I liked Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker I still feel that he was A Joker and not THE Joker. I’m still pissed that Aaron Eckhart wasn’t nominated for an Oscar as I feel his performance as Harvey Dent/Two-Face was equally as good as Mr. Ledger’s. Kinda moot all the way around as anyway you look at it, it’s an awesome movie.

    And since THE AVENGERS has taken over the world there is little point in even considering what is the best superhero movie ever made. Hell, people who don’t even like superhero movies are going back to see THE AVENGERS a second or even third time because people want to see superheroes being superheroes. The day of the whiney, mopey superhero movie is over, Thank Odin.

    Finally, INDEPENDENCE DAY deserves no mention anywhere at anytime good movies are being discussed or debated.

    1. Firstly, much as I love Heath Ledgers performance in The Dark Knight, it is certainly not in the top five performances of all time (this is in response to the blog, rather than your comment, i know).

      I really enjoyed the Avengers quite a bit and it has definitely hot into my list of top superhero comic book movies of all time. That said, I still think The Dark Knight is a superior film. More taut and focused, and way more kick-ass (in a more-grounded-in-reality kind of way). I loved the final action sequence in the Avengers, but it was a little CGI-intense, and my eyes did start to glaze over slightly.

      Finally, Independence Day is all kinds of awesome, and I definitely consider it to be one of the all-time great blockbusters.

      1. I just believe when you look at Ledger’s career, albeit brief and look at that performance it is so haunting and delivered so flawlessly I believe it stands up against most of the great performances

      2. Thats fair enough! Definitely a strong performance that made the tragedy that followed all the more painful – if this is what he was capable of at the age of 28, just imagine what he might have done.

    2. I’ve never seen Braveheart either and I don’t miss it! LOL
      And I may be the only one who won’t go see The Avengers and don’t feel that anything will be missing from my life–but I did see “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and loved it–does that tell you something about me???

  4. I’m not as certain as you about whose Joker is better, but it’s a small point. This is truly a great list, full of the best of the best of summer blockbusters. No stupid personal deviations but true undesputable champs.

    1. It is just a side note. Thanks for the compliment we tried to be as objective about it as possible

  5. Great list. Jaws broke all kinds of rules when it came to the summer blockbuster. It can be argued that Jaws was actually the first ever summer blockbuster. The way they marketed it, released it, and drove it into the mind of the public was something they didn’t do for movies back then. Jaws started this trend we see today.

  6. Agreed with all of your choices. Although some of them aren’t may favs, they were definitely blockbusters. As much as I love all kinds of movies, the summer blockbusters are the ones I eagerly await! Looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    1. Thanks so much!! Glad to have you reading!! Hope you enjoy what we have and what we have to come

  7. This is a great list of summer blockbusters. I would have put The Dark Knight, Jurassic Park and Batman higher, but I can’t disagree with this.

  8. Oh My gosh…Jaws…that’s “the one” to blame for my fear of sharks (big time fear!!!) But the film is sort of a legend, and i guess everyone knows the musik, or rather the creepy sound from when the shark came from below…tam-tam-tam-tam… 🙂

    1. Yes the score of the movie is just as legendary as the film and shark itself. Great point! Thanks for reading!!

  9. I was looking for “Jaws”–I saw that on vacation in New Orleans the weekend it opened!!!!
    I have problems with ‘best lists’–I have been seeing movies since 1941 (and that was back when there were 2 movies on the bill) and in the past 30 years I have been to the movies EVERY Friday– no way could I make a best 10 or even best 100 lists of films

    1. The aren’t easy for sure but they are fun to make and look band on different genre and classes of movies. Thanks for reading!!

    2. Yeah, the problem with “best” lists is that it’s purely subjective and limited to movies the person making the list saw. One person may favor genre films, while another person thinks only good movies are realistic ones. The criteria used to judge are often random, and slave to personal taste, education, culture, and many other factors. That said, anything that makes people think critically of film is good in my book.

  10. Brilliant list. I would find it so difficult to keep it to just ten before I even thought about the actual order! There’s still some key films missing too, like Matrix and Inception, the thinking man’s blockbusters. Love that dark Knight made the list though.

    1. Yea looking back the shark looks bad but at the time it was pretty groundbreaking. Thanks so much for reading!!

    2. You do realize that the shark was only onscreen for maybe 5 minutes total in the movie, and only in the last third of the film? The suspense, adventure, and character interaction is what made that movie great. The most we see of the shark is the fin cutting through the water (and in one scene, was actually a fake fin). There’s the famous shot of its open jaws coming out of the water as Brody is chumming, and you can’t tell me that that scene doesn’t provide a good jolt. Then we see REAL sharks underwater when Hooper is in the cage, intercut with close-ups of the fake one. There are one or two other shots until the final show-down between Bruce and Brody, which is edited in such a way where the reality of the shark (or lack thereof) is irrelevant; if you’re not on the edge of your seat at this point, then the entire film had no impact whatsoever. In fact, BECAUSE the shark kept breaking was the reason why it wasn’t seen as much, which improved the film. Are you sure you’re not thinking of “Jaws 2,” “Jaws 3D” or the rancid “Jaws: the Revenge”? The shark is featured quite a bit in them, and gets worse as the series progresses.

      1. Great points!! It didn’t stop the world from being afraid of sharks and the water!!

      2. Of course, I left out the famous scene of the shark jumping on the Orca and eating Quint. That looked a little rubbery, but it was still an intense scene.

  11. Awesome list. Couldn’t agree with you more. I’m a Star Wars fan boy but respect what Jaws did for summer movies. Now the summer requires big blockbuster movies. Appreciate the like on my recent post on 21 Jump Street movie review. Keep up the good work.

  12. Nor surprised this post has drawn so much comment. Well done! Was a good read! The dark Knight is pretty hard to beat but you’ve come up with a really good list.

  13. Fantastic list, every film on it is exceptional in my opinion and even the ones that just missed are really good, it was also nice to see you mentioned Toy Story because it was the start of Disney Pixar which has now gone on to make a lot of very good films and a lot of money.

    1. Thanks so much! I agree it needed to be mentioned because it was such a game changing movie. Thanks for reading!

    1. So glad you caught that!!! I noticed it after I published the article.. He is a movie classic maker

  14. Terrific list! I feel like I grew up with these. Thanks for visiting my blog and liking the beer post, which got me visiting here. I’m a huge movie fan too so will definitely be back.

    You also remind me that I should show my daughter Back to the Future, she’ll love it.

  15. Haha! They’re all action/adventure – you don’t have a single rom-com on there! Such a guy! Well, it’s okay because your two Harrison Ford pictures totally satisfy me. I’ll watch him in anything, but there’s no doubt that his bests were as Indiana Jones and Han Solo. Great list!

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