Summer Blockbusters fail almost as much as they succeed. For every great, worthy inclusion into the Top list, there are at least 3 or 4 doomed blockbusters laying on the ground. The buttery promise of high adventure, beautiful actors/actresses and incredible special effects leads thousands to the darkened, air-conditioned theaters to suspend their disbelief for an hour or two. Here are Danny’s list of Best and Worst Summer Blockbuster Films.
Best 5 Summer Blockbusters
Even though I wasn’t born when this movie came out in theaters on June 20, 1975, I have read enough articles about the film’s debut. This film is the grandfather of ALL Summer Blockbuster films. With Steven Spielberg directing and John Williams’ music composition, this movie brought true terror, suspense and fear to movie screens throughout the country. With a budget of only $9 million, it went on to a box office of $470.7 million!
Jurassic Park (1993)
Once again, Steve Spielberg brought us terror, suspense, and fear to the big screen, only this time it was with dinosaurs! With his direction and John Williams’ fantastic musical score (that high schools throughout the United States would play during half-time at football games), movie goers were transported to a theme park like no other. Real. Live. Dinosaurs! This film brought forth the era of groundbreaking computer-generated imagery by Industrial Light & Magic & DTS surround sound. With a budget of $63 million, it went on to generate a box office of $1.029 BILLION!
The Lion King (1994)
When coming up with this list, I wanted to make sure to include at least one animated film. For me, no other summer animated film stood out more than Disney’s The Lion King. Directed by Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, this film brought together voice-over talent of the likes of Matthew Broderick, James Earl Jones, Jeremy Irons, Johnathan Taylor Thomas, Whoopi Goldberg Cheech Marin, Jim Cummings and many, many more. We were transported to Africa to see a young lion cub grow up to be the Lion King he was destined to be, all the while, being entertained with original songs by Elton John and Tim Rice and original scores by Hans Zimmer. With a budget of $45 million, this movie ended up with a box office of $968.5 million!
I was working at Cinemark Cinema IV (home of Front Row Joe), in Corsicana, TX, when this movie came out. Up until then, there really hadn’t been a disaster movie centered around tornadoes. With Steven Spielberg as an Executive Producer, screenplay by Michael Crichton and Anne-Marie Martin, directed by Jan de Bont, an all-star cast of Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Jami Gertz, Cary Elwes and a young Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and a soundtrack with music from Van Halen, Soul Asylum, Red Hot Chili Peppers and many more, it was no wonder why this would go on to be the second-highest domestic grossing film of 1996. On a budget of $92 million, it made $494.4 million at the box office!
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
What I like to dub as “this generation’s Star Wars”, Disney’s Marvel gave us a movie we were not expecting at all. James Gunn directed an incredible cast of Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan and many more, in a crazy space adventure set to a soundtrack from the 1960s and 1970s. It is still to this very day, my favorite Marvel film and the one I have re-watched more times than any other. On a budget of $232.3 million, it went on to capture a box office of $773.3 million!
Worst 5 Summer Blockbusters
Battlefield Earth (2000)
This film could be why I do not care for Scientology, other than Tom Cruise’s crazy hopping-on-the-couch antics. This nonsense is based upon the first half of L. Ron Hubbard’s 1982 novel of the same name. Directed by Roger Christian and starring John Travolta and Forest Whitaker, we’re transported to the year 3000, where humans have been slaves to an alien race for over a thousand years. There’s a battle, on a field, on earth. Bad effects, bad acting, bad directing, bad music. The film cost $73 million to make and only brought in a box office of $29.7 million. You do the math.
The Last Airbender (2010)
As a fan of Nickelodeon’s animated series in which the film is based on the first season, I was looking forward to seeing a live-action take. With M. Night Shyamalan directing, producing and writing the screenplay, I thought Avatar: The Last Airbender fans were in for a treat. I was sadly mistaken. Poor casting/acting, awful pacing of plot, mediocre special effects led to much disappointment. It is still Shyamalan’s worst-reviewed movie to date. While it made $319.7 million at the box office, on a budget of $150 million, the film has such a poor critical response, that I have to put it in my bottom five. Even the creators of the animated series have officially said that they would like to pretend the film does not exist. Ouch.
Green Lantern (2011)
I had so much hope for this film when it came out. With DC Entertainment and Warner Brothers giving us Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, I thought DC would be back on track with delivering a solid superhero film. With a thin plot, overproduction in many areas, forgettable soundtrack/music score, mediocre acting, we’re left with a great character in an awful film. It made $220 million at the box office on a budget of $200 million, but plans for sequel(s) were canned and now Ryan Reynolds has moved on to the greatness that is Deadpool and even pokes fun of his time spent in the Green Lantern suit.
ALL of the Transformers movies (2007-2017)
All I have to say about these films is that I despise Michael Bay taking a part of my childhood, putting it into a blender & hitting the shred button. Such beloved characters, awesome animation, great storylines and he decided to make humans the main focus, while these robots (with WAY too many moving parts that it becomes too distracting / gives me a headache) are an afterthought plot-device to keep the sludge rolling. Yes, the films have made over $4 BILLION at the box office, but even some bad films out there have made money.
I was keeping an open mind about this film (reboot?) when I first heard about it. I am fans of most of the cast AND I loved Paul Feig’s Freaks and Geeks, so I have to say that I was extremely let-down when I sat through a film that had the main female roles take on typical stereotypes written from the male perspective. I wanted Kristen Wiig’s character to be MORE like Peter Venkman, sarcastic & witty and willing to “pour on the charm” rather than the nerdy, OMG there’s a MAN in the room with me and now I’m a bumbling idiot around him. I wanted Leslie’s Jones’ character to be on the same academic level as her team couterparts but instead she working in the subway ticket booth, because I guess that’s as high up as Paul Feig and Katie Dippold think an African-American woman can get. I wanted Melissa McCarthy’s character to be funny, but in a smart, charming way like Ray Stanz and not the raunchy/physical style she portrayed. Also, ghosts do not have genitials, so shooting them in that area with proton particle beams would have zero effect, just saying. The film had a budget of $144 million and while it made $229.1 million at the box office, the film is considered a bomb because of the large amount that was spent on marketing it.