Special Report

Biggest Summer Blockbuster Each Year Since 1975

Going to the movies is one of the best ways to beat the summer heat. Not only do you get to cool off in a dark, air-conditioned cinema (and maybe enjoy a cold drink), but you also get to take in the latest blockbuster spectacle out of Hollywood.

Many point to the release of Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws” in 1975, along with “Star Wars” in 1977, as the birth of the summer blockbuster — movies with big budgets and even bigger returns. These movies are oftentimes accompanied by large marketing campaigns and extensive merchandising. Prior to “Jaws,” the summer season was not generally considered the best time to release movies that were expected to be major hits. But that has changed and since then some of the top grossing movies of all time were released in the summer.

24/7 Tempo has identified the biggest summer blockbuster each year since 1975 — or, beginning with “Jaws” — based on domestic box office data provided by box office reporting service Box Office Mojo. Dollar amounts have been included as both adjusted and unadjusted for ticket price inflation for comparison’s sake.

Many of the biggest summer blockbusters involve superheroes such as Batman, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman. In recent years, movies released as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been among audience’s favorites. As franchise films have been growing in popularity at the summer box office for the past 40 years — again, since “Star Wars” first came out in 1977 — movies without sequels, such as “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” are becoming increasingly rare.

Click here to see the biggest summer blockbuster each year since 1975.

To determine the biggest summer blockbuster every year since 1975, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the lifetime domestic box office gross of all films that were released during the summer from movie data site Box Office Mojo. For the purposes of this article, the summer season is defined as the first Friday in May through Labor Day Weekend. We included both domestic gross adjusted for ticket price inflation and not adjusted. Production budgets are often estimates as reported by Box Office Mojo. In certain cases, these figures are from Box Office Mojo’s parent site, the Internet Movie Database.