With The Avengers breaking box office records, Johnny Depp reteaming with Tim Burton with Dark Shadows, Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest comedy The Dictator already banking bucks and Battleship set to blow up in 24 hours, Hollywood is telling us it’s hot outside as the summer movie season has picked up a serious head of steam. By the end of the month, the third Men in Black will arrive before Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus usher in June. The summer blockbuster is a relatively recent phenomenon. Steven Spielberg ushered in the era with his Jaws in 1975 and Tinseltown has not looked back since.
So, since Jaws scared us silly, what have been the Top 10 Summer Movies of All Time?
10. Men in Black
The film was a marvel, unlike anything we’d ever seen. Men in Black had the classic wackiness of a Barry Sonnenfeld film with a sci-fi flair. It totally rocked our world when it arrived in 1997. What’s not to like? The film even had a smash hit theme song sung by its star, something summer movies have been trying to do since Flashdance.
9. Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump was one of those summer movies that united the nation. Boomers found it nostalgic while younger audiences saw their history lessons come to life in a story of a simpleton who dreamed big and achieved even bigger. Despite a career of excellence, it is safe to say that Forrest Gump will be Tom Hanks' most memorable character.
8. Terminator 2
I still remember walking into the theater to see Arnold Schwarzenegger switch to the good side to save John Connor and his slightly buff mom Sarah. What director James Cameron started with his first Terminator, he took to unbelievable heights with his sequel. Give a gifted filmmaker a bigger budget and look what happens!
Spielberg’s blockbuster is considered the first summer event movie. It earned hundreds of millions of dollars globally and made everyone scared to go in the water. I was way too young to see it at the time, but merely the thought of the film makes me want to stay out of the ocean.
6. Jurassic Park
Technology caught up with Spielberg’s vision in the summer of 1993 and a summer movie icon was born. Who knew dinosaurs could look so real? Toss in an outstanding plot from the blockbuster author Michael Crichton brought to life by the greatest filmmaker of our time and Jurassic Park became an instant classic.
5. Independence Day
There was a while there where Will Smith ruled the July 4 weekend. Before Men in Black conquered the holiday weekend in 1997, the Fresh Prince dominated the box office a year earlier. Independence Day took the alien invasion movie and gave it scope unlike any we’ve ever seen. Smith’s hero was only surpassed in the heroic department by a Commander in Chief who personally led the American Revolution part two.
4. The Dark Knight
Sure, Christopher Nolan’s reboot of Batman rocked us originally in Batman Begins in 2005. But, The Dark Knight became a sensation and by the time it was done, the second chapter in Nolan’s trilogy had landed on the top 10 box office champs of all-time list. Its success was largely due to a stellar story, a filmmaker hitting his groove and an Oscar-winning performance by Heath Ledger.
For Movie Fanatic, E.T. was the first film that saw us compelled to return to the cinema for the same movie repeatedly. No matter how many times our parents, our friends’ parents or a taxi cab -- if necessary -- drove us to the corner movie house, E.T. had to be seen over and over and over in the summer of 1982.
2. Raiders of the Lost Ark
There is summer movie spectacle, and then there is Raiders of the Lost Ark. Let’s look at the blockbuster elements all present in Spielberg and Harrison Ford’s iconic film. An adventurous hero… check. Nazis threatening to take over the world… check. A love story that transcends the film’s present and proves integral to the overall story arc… check! Rapturous score by a composer who hit his zenith after Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and E.T… check plus!
1. Star Wars
No other movie in cinematic history has spawned a nation of followers as Star Wars did. George Lucas galvanized a generation with his story of a princess in distress, her older hero -- Obi Wan Kenobi -- a rebel with a heart of gold and the brother she doesn’t know who will rise to the occasion and save the galaxy.