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The 5 Most Influential Summer Blockbusters
For the first time in nearly half a century, The world will be without a summer movie season. But rather than wallow, let's take a look back at some of the hits that have transformed the industry and crafted the kinds of tentpole movies (for good or ill) that we know today.

Ice Age: Continental Drift
Not a movie you hear a lot about, is it? But this forgettable children’s film made nearly 85% of its $877 million gross internationally in 2012 (including numerous records in Latin America), leading a shift in the development of computer-animated films. The deep cast of goofy, colorful characters is filled with celebrity cameos (seriously, in the English version, everyone from Peter Dinklage to Nicki Minaj to Patrick Stewart to Rebel Wilson is in this) and focus on low-brow humor and physical comedy let most of the movie’s gags adapt easily to various languages, exemplifying what is arguably the dumbing down of children’s films to appeal to a global audience.

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios

(Marvel’s) The Avengers
The release of The Avengers does two things: culminates the blueprint for a “shared universe” brand that most studios immediately try to replicate to varying degrees of success (good: The Fast & Furious Franchise, bad: The Dark Universe) and solidifies the market potential for China explored by Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Pirates of the Caribbean and exploited starting with Iron Man 3 and Transformers: Age of Extinction. Who knew 2012 would be so important for the industry?

Photo courtesy of Disney

The father of the summer blockbuster, Jaws blended horror, spectacle, and character to wrap ticket lines around the block and become the highest-grossing of film of all time in 1975. It also had a major impact on the view of sharks in the popular imagination. While shark-related deaths are rare, Jaws’ depiction of them as killing machines was so pervasive after the film that the mediocre sequel invented the greatest tagline of all time. The only thing Jaws was lacking was a certain… Je ne sais quoi… Oh wait, I mean “a giant merchandising initiative”.

Photo courtesy of Universal

In 1989, a 30-year old artsy kid from Burbank creates the modern blockbuster. Expanding on the success of Star Wars with an already-established IP and a fresh, well-received director, and a marketing blitz the likes of which had never been seen. Popularizing more serious takes of superheroes, it was dubbed “The Summer of Batman” and it’s a cultural phenomenon every blockbuster has tried to replicate.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros

Star Wars
What Jaws created, Star Wars perfected. With a prototype teaser trailer and a toy line that wouldn’t be ready for months after the film’s release (you got a cardboard display to “fill in” with characters that would come later), Star Wars defied the odds and toppled Jaws’ box office record, becoming part of the canon of human mythos along the way. Over 40 years later, each new film is an event in and of itself, even the not-so-great ones.

Photo courtesy of StarWars.com


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