The Best Years for Summer Movies

By 6.1k votes 645 voters 60k views 35 items tags f p @

List Criteria: "Summer movies" in a given year must have opened in the months of May, June, July or August.

List of the best "summer seasons" for new mainstream films. The notion of the "summer blockbuster" movie season started in June of 1975, when Steven Spielberg's Jaws became the biggest box office draw to date (the troubled production had spiraled out of control and wound up costing nearly four times as much as was initially projected). Since then, studios have all attempted to program event movies for the summer months, typically around fare designed to appeal to younger audiences, such as action movies and broad comedies. The long July 4th weekend has always been a coveted release date for new films, but the summer season now extends far longer than it did in the '70s and '80s. New "summer" films now open in early May and continue coming out right up through Labor Day.

In the decades since Jaws, many classic films have seen release during the busy summer movie season. Great summer movies happen every year, but some years have more than others. It's now possible to go back and look at the actual historical summers that have given us some of these memorable film experiences, and evaluate which season itself featured the most genuinely good summer movies. This isn't just a summer movies list or a list of best movies by year, this is a list of the best years for summer movies from '75 through the present day.

Check out more lists like Greatest Movies that Take Place During Summer, Movies That Take Place in Summer Camp, and Hottest Actors in Summer Movies
Collection Photo:  via publicdomainpictures.net
  • 2 ReRanks
  • 2 See list ranked by
Z
G Options B Comments & Embed
  1. 1
    + 286
    - 91

    1984

    1984 is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Years for Summer Movies
    Photo: user uploaded image
    Notable releases: Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Karate Kid, Gremlins, The Neverending Story, Once Upon a Time in America, Purple Rain, Red Dawn, Revenge of the Nerds, Top Secret, Bachelor Party, The Natural
  2. 2
    + 233
    - 79

    1985

    1985 is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Years for Summer Movies
    Photo: user uploaded image
    Notable releases: Back to the Future, The Goonies, Pee Wee's Big Adventure, Teen Wolf, Weird Science, National Lampoon's European Vacation, The Black Cauldron, Cocoon, Fletch, Fright Night, St. Elmo's Fire
  3. 3
    + 218
    - 73

    1982

    1982 is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Years for Summer Movies
    Photo: user uploaded image
    Notable releases: Blade Runner, E.T., The Thing, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Poltergeist, The Road Warrior, Rocky III, Tron, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Conan the Barbarian, The Secret of Nimh, An Officer and a Gentleman
  4. 4
    + 239
    - 89

    1980

    1980 is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Years for Summer Movies
    Photo: user uploaded image
    Notable releases: The Empire Strikes Back, The Shining, Airplane!, The Blues Brothers, Caddyshack, Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, Dressed to Kill, Fame, Friday the 13th, Used Cars, The Big Red One, The Blue Lagoon
  5. 5
    + 183
    - 62

    1989

    1989 is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Years for Summer Movies
    Photo: user uploaded image
    Notable releases: Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, When Harry Met Sally, Dead Poets' Society, Do the Right Thing, The Abyss, Ghostbusters II, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Lethal Weapon 2, License to Kill, Parenthood, Uncle Buck, Road House
  6. 6
    + 199
    - 82

    1994

    1994 is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Years for Summer Movies
    Photo: user uploaded image
    Notable releases: Forrest Gump, Speed, The Lion King, True Lies, The Mask, Clear and Present Danger, The Crow, Maverick, Natural Born Killers, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Spanking the Monkey
  7. 7
    + 215
    - 95

    1986

    1986 is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Years for Summer Movies
    Photo: user uploaded image
    Notable releases: Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Aliens, Top Gun, Stand by Me, The Fly, Big Trouble in Little China, Back to School, Cobra, Labyrinth, Short Circuit, Transformers: The Movie, SpaceCamp, Flight of the Navigator
  8. 8
    + 140
    - 59

    1993

    1993 is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Years for Summer Movies
    Photo: user uploaded image
    Notable releases: Jurassic Park, The Fugitive, Sleepless in Seattle, In the Line of Fire, The Firm, The Last Action Hero, Menace II Society, Cliffhanger, Dave, Free Willy, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, So I Married An Axe Murderer, Hard Target
L List Options B Comments & Embed z Share Next List >