A film’s opening weekend can make or break the movie’s lifetime value. Big opening weekends create a marketing buzz that helps future ticket sales. By raising interest in the film at the box office, consumers are also more likely to purchase later DVDs, story merchandise, and attend potential sequels long after the film has left theaters. A film’s opening weekend often accounts for more than a third of lifetime ticket sales.
Because the opening weekend is so important to a film’s success, studios release films when the public has more free time and is looking for entertainment. Studios have long released movies on Independence Day weekend to capitalize on vacationing Americans looking to escape the summer heat in an air conditioned theater.
Using data from online movie revenue tracker Box Office Mojo, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the highest grossing July Fourth weekend releases since 1982. The vast majority of the most successful films on this list are action flicks.
Despite the holiday weekend boost, the films on this list are far from boasting the most successful opening weekends of all time. In fact, even the most successful July Fourth opening weekend film over the past 25 years only ranks 42nd among all of the top grossing weekend movies over the same period.
Independence Day weekend releases don’t tend to be the best feature films. Films vying for accolades are generally released during November and December, just ahead of the awards season. Movies released during the school summer vacation, by contrast, aim to please children and young adults with fun — and perhaps less dramatic and critically acclaimed — pictures.
To determine the biggest Fourth of July weekend blockbusters of all time, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed gross revenue figures adjusted for ticket price inflation from Box Office Mojo. All adjusted gross and ticket sales figures as well as the release date came from Box Office Mojo. While some of these films were released before, or after, July 4, Box Office Mojo only counted ticket sales for the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of each respective holiday weekend.
These are the biggest Fourth of July blockbusters of all time.