Special Report

The Biggest Summer Blockbuster Each Year Since 1975

Blockbusters are movies with big budgets and ideally with even bigger returns. Most people consider either Steven Spielberg’s “Jaws,” released in 1975, as the birth of the summer blockbusters.

Expensive movies that are expected to turn a huge profit often have large marketing campaigns and extensive merchandising. Prior to “Jaws,” movies were not really advertised on TV because it cost too much. Also, the summer was considered the off season for film releases. Since 1975, however, some of the top grossing movies in Hollywood history have been released in the summer.

24/7 Tempo has identified the biggest summer blockbuster each year since 1975 — beginning with “Jaws” — based on domestic box office data provided by box office reporting service Box Office Mojo.

Many of the biggest summer blockbusters involve superheroes. 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, blockbuster movies without sequels are becoming increasingly rare.

A movie’s performance at the box office gets plenty of attention. What’s the biggest box-office bomb of all time? It seems there is never a guarantee a movie is going to turn a profit — here are the biggest movie flops in Hollywood history.

Click here for the summer blockbuster of every years since 1975

Methodology

To determine the biggest summer blockbuster each year since 1975, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on movies’ box office gross and release date from film data site Box Office Mojo.

Films released between the first Friday in May through Labor Day weekend of each year were ranked based on lifetime domestic box office gross.

Data on the number of movies released each summer and their cumulative domestic box office gross also came from Box Office Mojo. Data on production budgets came from film data site The Numbers.

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1975: Jaws
> Domestic box office: $260,000,000
> Movies released in summer of 1975: 1
> Starring: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
> IMDb score: 8.0 out of 10
> RT audience score: 90%
> Tomatometer score: 98%

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1976: The Omen
> Domestic box office: $48,570,885
> Movies released in summer of 1976: 1
> Starring: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, Harvey Stephens
> IMDb score: 7.5 out of 10
> RT audience score: 80%
> Tomatometer score: 86%

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1977: Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope
> Domestic box office: $460,998,007
> Movies released in summer of 1977: 4
> Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
> IMDb score: 8.6 out of 10
> RT audience score: 96%
> Tomatometer score: 92%

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1978: Grease
> Domestic box office: $181,813,770
> Movies released in summer of 1978: 5
> Starring: John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Stockard Channing
> IMDb score: 7.2 out of 10
> RT audience score: 87%
> Tomatometer score: 75%

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Source: Courtesy of American International Pictures

1979: The Amityville Horror
> Domestic box office: $86,432,520
> Movies released in summer of 1979: 17
> Starring: James Brolin, Margot Kidder, Rod Steiger
> IMDb score: 6.3 out of 10
> RT audience score: 52%
> Tomatometer score: 28%

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1980: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back
> Domestic box office: $291,738,960
> Movies released in summer of 1980: 27
> Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
> IMDb score: 8.7 out of 10
> RT audience score: 97%
> Tomatometer score: 94%

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1981: Superman II
> Domestic box office: $108,185,706
> Movies released in summer of 1981: 24
> Starring: Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder
> IMDb score: 6.8 out of 10
> RT audience score: 76%
> Tomatometer score: 86%

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1982: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
> Domestic box office: $435,110,554
> Movies released in summer of 1982: 55
> Starring: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote
> IMDb score: 7.8 out of 10
> RT audience score: 72%
> Tomatometer score: 98%

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1983: Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi
> Domestic box office: $309,205,079
> Movies released in summer of 1983: 66
> Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher
> IMDb score: 8.3 out of 10
> RT audience score: 94%
> Tomatometer score: 82%

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Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

1984: Ghostbusters
> Domestic box office: $242,212,467
> Movies released in summer of 1984: 61
> Starring: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Sigourney Weaver
> IMDb score: 7.8 out of 10
> RT audience score: 88%
> Tomatometer score: 97%

Source: Courtesy of Rialto Pictures

1985: Rambo – First Blood Part 2
> Domestic box office: $150,415,432
> Movies released in summer of 1985: 72
> Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Richard Crenna, Charles Napier
> IMDb score: 6.5 out of 10
> RT audience score: 60%
> Tomatometer score: 33%

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1986: Top Gun
> Domestic box office: $179,800,601
> Movies released in summer of 1986: 74
> Starring: Tom Cruise, Tim Robbins, Kelly McGillis
> IMDb score: 6.9 out of 10
> RT audience score: 83%
> Tomatometer score: 56%

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1987: Beverly Hills Cop II
> Domestic box office: $153,665,036
> Movies released in summer of 1987: 94
> Starring: Eddie Murphy, Judge Reinhold, Jürgen Prochnow
> IMDb score: 6.5 out of 10
> RT audience score: 57%
> Tomatometer score: 47%

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

1988: Who Framed Roger Rabbit
> Domestic box office: $154,112,492
> Movies released in summer of 1988: 96
> Starring: Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy
> IMDb score: 7.7 out of 10
> RT audience score: 84%
> Tomatometer score: 97%

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1989: Batman
> Domestic box office: $251,188,924
> Movies released in summer of 1989: 89
> Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger
> IMDb score: 7.5 out of 10
> RT audience score: 84%
> Tomatometer score: 71%

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

1990: Ghost
> Domestic box office: $217,631,306
> Movies released in summer of 1990: 82
> Starring: Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg
> IMDb score: 7.1 out of 10
> RT audience score: 80%
> Tomatometer score: 74%

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Source: Courtesy of TriStar Pictures

1991: Terminator 2: Judgment Day
> Domestic box office: $203,464,105
> Movies released in summer of 1991: 103
> Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong
> IMDb score: 8.5 out of 10
> RT audience score: 94%
> Tomatometer score: 93%

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1992: Batman Returns
> Domestic box office: $162,833,635
> Movies released in summer of 1992: 101
> Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer
> IMDb score: 7.0 out of 10
> RT audience score: 73%
> Tomatometer score: 80%

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

1993: Jurassic Park
> Domestic box office: $402,523,348
> Movies released in summer of 1993: 98
> Starring: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum
> IMDb score: 8.1 out of 10
> RT audience score: 91%
> Tomatometer score: 91%

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

1994: The Lion King
> Domestic box office: $421,785,283
> Movies released in summer of 1994: 98
> Starring: Matthew Broderick, Jeremy Irons, James Earl Jones
> IMDb score: 8.5 out of 10
> RT audience score: 93%
> Tomatometer score: 93%

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

1995: Batman Forever
> Domestic box office: $184,031,112
> Movies released in summer of 1995: 108
> Starring: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey
> IMDb score: 5.4 out of 10
> RT audience score: 32%
> Tomatometer score: 38%

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Source: Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

1996: Independence Day
> Domestic box office: $306,169,255
> Movies released in summer of 1996: 108
> Starring: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum
> IMDb score: 7.0 out of 10
> RT audience score: 75%
> Tomatometer score: 67%

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

1997: Men in Black
> Domestic box office: $250,690,539
> Movies released in summer of 1997: 116
> Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith, Linda Fiorentino
> IMDb score: 7.3 out of 10
> RT audience score: 79%
> Tomatometer score: 92%

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

1998: Armageddon
> Domestic box office: $201,578,182
> Movies released in summer of 1998: 125
> Starring: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck
> IMDb score: 6.7 out of 10
> RT audience score: 73%
> Tomatometer score: 38%

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Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

1999: Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
> Domestic box office: $474,544,677
> Movies released in summer of 1999: 188
> Starring: Ewan McGregor, Liam Neeson, Natalie Portman
> IMDb score: 6.5 out of 10
> RT audience score: 59%
> Tomatometer score: 52%

Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

2000: Mission: Impossible II
> Domestic box office: $215,409,889
> Movies released in summer of 2000: 189
> Starring: Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandiwe Newton
> IMDb score: 6.1 out of 10
> RT audience score: 42%
> Tomatometer score: 57%

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Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution

2001: Shrek
> Domestic box office: $267,655,011
> Movies released in summer of 2001: 185
> Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz
> IMDb score: 7.8 out of 10
> RT audience score: 90%
> Tomatometer score: 88%

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

2002: Spider-Man
> Domestic box office: $403,706,375
> Movies released in summer of 2002: 287
> Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe
> IMDb score: 7.3 out of 10
> RT audience score: 67%
> Tomatometer score: 90%

Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

2003: Finding Nemo
> Domestic box office: $380,529,370
> Movies released in summer of 2003: 356
> Starring: Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould
> IMDb score: 8.1 out of 10
> RT audience score: 86%
> Tomatometer score: 99%

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Source: Courtesy of DreamWorks Distribution

2004: Shrek 2
> Domestic box office: $441,226,247
> Movies released in summer of 2004: 361
> Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz
> IMDb score: 7.2 out of 10
> RT audience score: 69%
> Tomatometer score: 89%

Source: Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

2005: Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
> Domestic box office: $380,270,577
> Movies released in summer of 2005: 338
> Starring: Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Ewan McGregor
> IMDb score: 7.5 out of 10
> RT audience score: 66%
> Tomatometer score: 80%

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Source: Courtesy of Buena Vista Pictures

2006: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
> Domestic box office: $423,315,812
> Movies released in summer of 2006: 331
> Starring: Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley
> IMDb score: 7.3 out of 10
> RT audience score: 72%
> Tomatometer score: 53%

Source: Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

2007: Spider-Man 3
> Domestic box office: $336,530,303
> Movies released in summer of 2007: 352
> Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Topher Grace
> IMDb score: 6.2 out of 10
> RT audience score: 51%
> Tomatometer score: 63%

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2008: The Dark Knight
> Domestic box office: $533,720,947
> Movies released in summer of 2008: 350
> Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart
> IMDb score: 9.0 out of 10
> RT audience score: 94%
> Tomatometer score: 94%

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Source: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

2009: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
> Domestic box office: $402,111,870
> Movies released in summer of 2009: 308
> Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel
> IMDb score: 6.0 out of 10
> RT audience score: 57%
> Tomatometer score: 20%

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2010: Toy Story 3
> Domestic box office: $415,004,880
> Movies released in summer of 2010: 320
> Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack
> IMDb score: 8.2 out of 10
> RT audience score: 90%
> Tomatometer score: 98%

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Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2011: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
> Domestic box office: $381,193,157
> Movies released in summer of 2011: 346
> Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
> IMDb score: 8.1 out of 10
> RT audience score: 89%
> Tomatometer score: 96%

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2012: The Avengers
> Domestic box office: $623,357,910
> Movies released in summer of 2012: 379
> Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
> IMDb score: 8.0 out of 10
> RT audience score: 91%
> Tomatometer score: 91%

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2013: Iron Man 3
> Domestic box office: $408,992,272
> Movies released in summer of 2013: 374
> Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce, Gwyneth Paltrow
> IMDb score: 7.1 out of 10
> RT audience score: 78%
> Tomatometer score: 79%

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2014: Guardians of the Galaxy
> Domestic box office: $333,714,112
> Movies released in summer of 2014: 367
> Starring: Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper
> IMDb score: 8.0 out of 10
> RT audience score: 92%
> Tomatometer score: 91%

Source: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

2015: Jurassic World
> Domestic box office: $652,306,625
> Movies released in summer of 2015: 389
> Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Ty Simpkins
> IMDb score: 7.0 out of 10
> RT audience score: 78%
> Tomatometer score: 71%

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2016: Finding Dory
> Domestic box office: $486,295,561
> Movies released in summer of 2016: 396
> Starring: Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill
> IMDb score: 7.3 out of 10
> RT audience score: 84%
> Tomatometer score: 94%

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2017: Wonder Woman
> Domestic box office: $412,563,408
> Movies released in summer of 2017: 369
> Starring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright
> IMDb score: 7.4 out of 10
> RT audience score: 83%
> Tomatometer score: 93%

Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2018: Incredibles 2
> Domestic box office: $608,581,744
> Movies released in summer of 2018: 425
> Starring: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Sarah Vowell
> IMDb score: 7.6 out of 10
> RT audience score: 84%
> Tomatometer score: 93%

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2019: The Lion King
> Domestic box office: $543,638,043
> Movies released in summer of 2019: 404
> Starring: Donald Glover, Beyoncé, Seth Rogen
> IMDb score: 6.9 out of 10
> RT audience score: 88%
> Tomatometer score: 52%

Source: Courtesy of Warner Bros.

2020: Tenet
> Domestic box office: $57,929,000
> Movies released in summer of 2020: 87
> Starring: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki
> IMDb score: 7.5 out of 10
> RT audience score: 76%
> Tomatometer score: 70%

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Source: Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

2021: Black Widow
> Domestic box office: $178,612,808
> Movies released in summer of 2021: 170
> Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz
> IMDb score: 7.0 out of 10
> RT audience score: 92%
> Tomatometer score: 80%

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