Ranked: Every Summer Movie Season Since 1980 – Part 2

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We continue our comparison of the best summer movie seasons since 1980. Part 2 is a look at the best ones! 

Click here for Part 1 of our ranking.     

2015 and 2016 may just be the most overthetop summer movie seasons yet. It seems like nearly every movie slated for a summer 2015 or 2016 release is heavily anticipated. Because of these impending summers of movie awesomeness, we’ve decided to take a look back at summer movie seasons of years past. The idea of the summer movie season is currently in full swing, but it didn’t catch on immediately. Hollywood had to do its fair share of experimenting to determine what types of films would be most successful. As a result, some summer movie seasons have been better than others. We’ve reviewed them all for you and ranked them from worst to best. Last week, we listed the worst summer movie seasons since 1980. This week, we’re posting our picks for the best.  

movielinx

Each month the Cinelinx staff will write a handful of articles covering a specified film-related topic. These articles will be notified by the Movielinx banner. Movielinx is an exploration and discussion of our personal connections with film. This month we’re mourning the end of the 2014 summer movie season and discussing our favorite summer movie seasons of the past! Be sure to vote in our 2014 Summer Movie Awards. 


To rank the summer movie seasons, I created an algorithm that utilizes several criteria. The algorithm looked at 4 criteria to determine how to rank the summer movie seasons:

  • Average Quality of the Movies Released
  • Quantity of Movies Released
  • Variety of Movies Released (Genres)
  • Popularity of Movies Released (Box Office Data)

Here is a diagram that explains all of the data that is listed below:

 Data Overview copy

Now that we have all this data, let’s put it to good use! Here’s the rest of our ranking of summer movie seasons, from worst to best:


#18 – 1995

Waterworld is one of the biggest flops of all time. The movie that made the most money was Batman Forever. Disney’s hit was Pocahontas. These aren’t very impressive facts about 1995. It would have ended up much lower on this list, but it does have a large quantity of films, so at least moviegoers in the summer of 1995 had something to watch.   

            Studs:

  • Die Hard: With a Vengeance – May 1995 – $100m (51%)
  • Casper – May 1995 – $100m (44%)
  • Pocahontas – June 1995 – $141m (56%)
  • Batman Forever – June 1995 – $184m (41%)
  • Apollo 13 – June 1995 – $172m (95%)

          Duds:

  • The Perez Family – May 1995 – $2.7m ($11m) (63%)
  • Braveheart – May 1995 – $75m ($72m) (78%)
  • Johnny Mnemonic – May 1995 – $19m ($26m) (14%)
  • Judge Dredd – June 1995 – $34m ($85m) (18%)
  • First Knight – July 1995 – $37m ($75m) (47%)
  • The Indian in the Cupboard – July 1995 – $35m ($45m) (70%)
  • Under Siege 2: Dark Territory – July 1995 – $50m ($60m) (34%)
  • Waterworld – July 1995 – $88m ($175m) (43%)
  • Virtuosity – August 1995 – $24m ($30m) (33%)

          Notables:

Crimson Tide (87%), Congo (20%), Clueless (81%), Species (35%), Babe (97%), The Usual Suspects (88%), Mortal Kombat (33%)

 


#17 – 1991

1991-terminator-2 2030195b

Terminator 2 may be the perfect summer movie, but everything else from 1991 is rather lackluster at best. Hudson Hawk and The Rocketeer are two excellent examples of how Hollywood’s experimentation to create the ultimate summer film sometimes backfired.

Studs:

  • City Slickers – June 1991 – $124m (90%)
  • Robin Hood: Price of Thieves – June 1991 – $165m (50%)
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day – July 1991 – $204m (92%)

          Duds:

  • Stone Cold – May 1991 – $9m ($25m) (29%)
  • Hudson Hawk – May 1991 – $17m ($65m) (24%)
  • The Rocketeer – June 1991 – $46m ($42m) (61%)
  • Barton Fink – August 1991 – $5m ($9m) (91%)
  • Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man – August 1991 – $7m ($23m) (24%)

          Notables:

Backdraft (71%), Thelma & Louise (83%), Point Break (68%), Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (57%), Hot Shots! (83%)


#16 – 1994

The summer of 1994 was full of underwhelming movie experiences. Sure, Hollywood tried to cater to contemporary tastes, but nothing really clicked. Forrest Gump and The Lion King are well-loved, but everything else is easily forgettable.

            Studs:

  • Maverick – May 1994 – $101m (67%)
  • The Flintstones – May 1994 – $130m (22%)
  • Speed – June 1994 – $121m (93%)
  • The Lion King – June 1994 – $422m (90%)
  • Forrest Gump – July 1994 – $329m (71%)
  • True Lies – July 1994 – $146m (72%)
  • The Mask – July 1994 – $119m (77%)
  • Clear and Present Danger – August 1994 – $122m (82%)

          Duds:

  • Beverly Hills Cop III – May 1994 – $42m ($50m) (46%)
  • Renaissance Man – June 1994 – $24m ($40m) (17%)
  • City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold – June 1994 – $43m ($40m) (19%)
  • Wolf – June 1994 – $65m ($70m) (61%)
  • Wyatt Earp – June 1994 – $25m ($63m) (42%)
  • Baby’s Day Out – July 1994 – $16m ($50m) (21%)
  • The Shadow – July 1994 – $31m ($40m) (35%)

          Notables:

            The Crow (82%), Angels in the Outfield (35%), The Client (80%)


#15 – 1999

Liam-Neeson-in-Star-Wars-Episode-1-The-Phantom-Menace gallery primary

1999 saw a large number of summer films released, and it had a lot of hits. Unfortunately, it also had a lot of duds. Star Wars Episode 1 gave a new generation of movie watchers an experience they will never forget, but Wild Wild West created a new definition of excess. Therefore, 1999 ends up as a mediocre summer experience.  

            Studs:

  • The Mummy – May 1999 – $155m (55%)
  • Star Wars Episode I – May 1999 – $474m (57%)
  • Notting Hill – May 1999 – $116m (83%)
  • Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me – June 1999 – $206m (51%)
  • Tarzan – June 1999 – $206m (88%)
  • The General’s Daughter – June 1999 – $102m (22%)
  • Big Daddy – June 1999 – $163m (40%)
  • American Pie – July 1999 – $101m (61%)
  • The Blair Witch Project – July 1999 – $140m (87%)
  • Runaway Bride – July 1999 – $152m (46%)
  • The Sixth Sense – August 1999 – $293m (85%)

          Duds:

  • The Thirteenth Floor – May 1999 – $11m ($16m) (29%)
  • Instinct – June 1999 – $34m ($55m) (27%)
  • Wild Wild West – June 1999 – $113m ($175m) (17%)
  • Muppets From Space – July 1999 – $16m ($24m) (63%)
  • Eyes Wide Shut – July 1999 – $55m ($65m) (77%)
  • The Iron Giant – August 1999 – $23m ($50m) (97%)
  • Mystery Men – August 1999 – $29m ($68m) (60%)
  • Detroit Rock City – August 1999 – $4m ($16m) (46%)
  • Bowfinger – August 1999 – $66m ($55m) (80%)
  • Universal Soldier II: The Return – August 1999 – $10m ($40m) (0%)
  • The 13th Warrior – August 1999 – $32m ($125m) (33%)
  • The Astronaut’s Wife – August 1999 – $10m ($34m) (16%)

          Notables:

South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut (81%), Lake Placid (40%), The Haunting (17%), Inspector Gadget (21%), The Thomas Crowne Affair (69%)

 


#14 – 2007

This was the year of threes. The Spider Man, Shrek, Rush Hour, Jason Bourne, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Ocean’s 11 franchisesall released a second sequel. Harry Potter, Fantastic Four, and Die Hard also released a sequel. If you’re a fan of those franchises, 2007 was good to you.

            Studs:

  • Spider-Man 3 – May 2007 – $336m (63%)
  • Shrek the Third – May 2007 – $322m (40%)
  • Ratatouille – June 2007 – $206m (96%)
  • Transformers – July 2007 – $319m (57%)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – July 2007 – $292m (79%)
  • The Simpsons Movie – July 2007 – $183m (90%)
  • The Bourne Ultimatum – August 2007 – $227m (94%)

          Duds:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End – May 2007 – $309m ($300m) (45%)
  • Surf’s Up – June 2007 – $58m ($100m) (78%)
  • Evan Almighty – June 2007 – $100m ($175m) (23%)
  • Sunshine – July 2007 – $3m ($40m) (75%)
  • Hot Rod – August 2007 – $13m ($25m) (40%)
  • Rush Hour 3 – August 2007 – $140m ($180m) (18%)
  • Stardust – August 2007 – $38m ($70m) (76%)
  • The Invasion – August 2007 – $15m ($80m) (19%)
  • The Last Legion – August 2007 – $5m ($67m) (16%)

          Notables:

Knocked Up (90%), Ocean’s Thirteen (70%), Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (37%), 1408 (78%), Live Free or Die Hard (82%), Hairspray (91%), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry (14%), Superbad (88%), Halloween (25%)

 


#13 – 1983

Endor

Besides Star Wars Episode 6, 1983 is let down by its sequels. Superman III is one of the biggest franchise-killers of all time. Smokey and the Bandit was never any good to begin with, so another sequel is an understandable failure. A Pink Panther film without Sellers? What were they thinking? Luckily, 1983 has a number of solid hits. War Games, Trading Places, Octopussy, Vacation, and Mr. Mom were all very enjoyable summer movies.

            Studs

  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – May 1983 – $309m (78%)
  • War Games – June 1983 – $74m (92%)
  • Trading Places – June 1983 – $90m (88%)
  • Octopussy – June 1983 – $68m (42%)
  • Superman III – June 1983 – $59m (26%)
  • Staying Alive – July 1983 – $63m (0%)
  • Mr. Mom – July 1983 – $64m (85%)
  • Vacation – July 1983 – $61m (95%)
  • Risky Business – August 1983 – $63m (96%)

          Duds

  • Krull – July 1983 – $16m ($27m) (33%)
  • Smokey and the Bandit III – August 1983 – $7m ($9m) (20%)
  • Curse of the Pink Panther – August 1983 – $3m (Unknown) (29%)

      Notables:

None


#12 – 2000

Gladiator was the breakout hit of 2000, making lots of money as well as earning critical praise. The X-Men franchise got its beginnings here, as did the Scary Movie franchise. What allows the year 2000 to rank this high on this list despite Battlefield Earth is that it has a fairly good average rating, a good amount of variety, and lots of selection. Also, it only has 2 sequels. Besides 2005, every other year in the next decade and a half will consist largely of sequels.

            Studs:

  • Gladiator – May 2000 – $187m (76%)
  • Mission: Impossible 2 – May 2000 – $215m (57%)
  • The Perfect Storm – June 2000 – $182m (47%)
  • Scary Movie – July 2000 – $157m (54%)
  • X-Men – July 2000 – $157m (82%)
  • What Lies Beneath – July 2000 – $155m (46%)

          Duds:

  • Battlefield Earth – May 2000 – $21m ($80m) (3%)
  • Gone in 60 Seconds – June 2000 – $101m ($103m) (24%)
  • Titan A.E. – June 2000 – $22m ($75m) (52%)
  • The Patriot – June 2000 – $113m ($110m) (62%)
  • The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle – $26m ($76m) (43%)
  • The Kid – July 2000 – $69m ($65m) (49%)
  • Hollow Man – August 2000 – $73m ($90m) (27%)
  • The Replacements – August 2000 – $44m (50m) (40%)
  • The Art of War – August 2000 – $30m ($40m) (16%)

          Notables:

Dinosaur (65%), Shanghai Noon (79%), Big Momma’s House (30%), Shaft (68%), Chicken Run (97%), Me, Myself, & Irene (48%), Nutty Professor II: The Klumps (26%), Coyote Ugly (22%), Space Cowboys (78%), The Cell (45%)

 


#11 – 1987

robocop23

Robocop, Predator, and The Untouchables are probably the standouts, but there is a good supporting cast with Full Metal Jacket, Spaceballs, Dirty Dancing, and Beverly Hills Cop II. There are some significant missteps, but their lack-of-popularity meant that audiences saw through their facades to begin with.

            Studs:

  • Beverly Hills Cop II – May 1987 – $153m (46%)
  • The Untouchables – June 1987 – $76m (80%)
  • Predator – June 1987 – $59m (78%)
  • The Witches of Eastwick – June 1987 – $63m (73%)
  • Dragnet – June 1987 – $57m (46%)
  • Robocop – July 1987 – $53m (88%)
  • La Bamba – July 1987 – $54m (96%)
  • The Living Daylights – July 1987 – $51m (75%)
  • Stakeout – August 1987 – $65m (87%)
  • Dirty Dancing – August 1987 – $63m (72%)

          Duds

  • Ishtar – May 1987 – $14m ($40m) (26%)
  • Superman IV – The Quest for Peace – July 1987 – $11m ($17m) (12%)
  • Jaws 4: The Revenge – July 1987 – $15m ($23m) (0%)
  • Masters of the Universe – August 1987 – $17m ($22m) (17%)

         Notables:

Spaceballs (54%), The Lost Boys (75%), Roxanne (88%), Full Metal Jacket (94%)


Now for the TOP TEN BEST SUMMER MOVIE SEASONS (SO FAR):


#10 – 1986

1986 has a bit of everything. Quality? 4 films with ratings above 90%, 3 above 80%. Quantity? The second most films released in the summer for any year in the 80’s. Variety? Action, Science Fiction, Comedy, Drama, Adventure, Horror, and Family Films are all well represented. Popularity? Well….it’s best to forget about Howard the Duck and Shanghai Surprise.

            Studs:

  • Cobra – May 1986 – $125m (worldwide) (13%)
  • Top Gun – May 1986 – $179m (54%)
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – June 1986 – $70m (80%)
  • Ruthless People – June 1986 – $71m (94%)
  • Back to School – June 1986 – $91m (84%)
  • The Karate Kid Part II – June 1986 – $115m (43%)
  • Aliens – July 1986 – $85m (98%)
  • Stand By Me – August 1986 – $52m (91%)

          Duds:

  • Invaders From Mars – June 1986 – $5m ($12m) (27%)
  • Pirates – July 1986 – $6m ($40m) (25%)
  • Big Trouble in Little China – July 1986 – $11m ($20m) (83%)
  • Howard the Duck – August 1986 – $16m ($30m) (14%)
  • Shanghai Surprise – August 1986 – $2,300,000.00 ($17m) (14%)

           Notables:

Short Circuit (57%), Labyrinth (66%), The Fly (91%)


#9 – 2001

Imhotep-The-Mummy-Returns-high-priest-imhotep-10550673-720-480

2001 may not win any awards due to the quality of its films, but it certainly gave audiences a lot to see. Because of the large quantity, there’s also a lot of variety. The Mummy Returns, Rush Hour 2, American Pie 2, and Dr. Dolittle 2 were all successful additions to franchises at the time, and a Jurassic Park film is always going to be a special summer movie experience. The Fast and Furious franchise started here, and so did Shrek.

            Studs:

  • The Mummy Returns – May 2001 – $202m (47%)
  • Shrek – May 2001 – $267m (89%)
  • Pearl Harbor – May 2001 – $198m (25%)
  • Jurassic Park III – July 2001 – $181m (49%)
  • Planet of the Apes – July 2001 – $180m (45%)
  • Rush Hour 2 – August 2001 – $226m (52%)

          Duds:

  • Angel Eyes – May 2001 – $24m ($38m) (33%)
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire – June 2001 – $84m ($90m) (49%)
  • Evolution – June 2001 – $38m ($80m) (43%)
  • Swordfish – June 2001 – $69m ($80m) (26%)
  • Artificial Intelligence: AI – June 2001 – $78m ($90m) (73%)
  • Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within – June 2001 – $32m ($137m) (44%)
  • Osmosis Jones – August 2001 – $13m ($70m) (55%)
  • Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – August 2001 – $25m ($70m) (29%)
  • Ghosts of Mars – August 2001 – $8m ($28m) (21%)

          Notables:

A Knight’s Tale (58%), Moulin Rouge (76%), The Animal (30%), Dr. Dolittle 2 (42%), The Fast and the Furious (53%), Cats & Dogs (54%), Scary Movie 2 (15%), Legally Blonde (68%), The Score (73%), America’s Sweethearts (31%), The Princess Diaries (25%), American Pie 2 (52%), The Others (83%), Rat Race (44%), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (53%)

 


#8 – 1980

In 1980, the idea of a summer blockbuster wasn’t really in full swing yet, but that didn’t stop a bunch of legendary films from being released. Watch out, you might start drooling.

           Studs:

  •          Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back – May 1980 – $280m (96%)

  • The Blues Brothers- June 1980 – $57m (87%)
  • Airplane! – July 1980 – $83m (98%)
  • Smokey and the Bandit II – August 1980 – $66m (20%)

          Duds:

  • Raise the Titanic – August 1980 – $7m ($40m) (50%)

          Notables:

The Shining (92%), Caddyshack (76%)


#7 – 1988

Die-Hard-Script

So 1988 has a few poorly-received films, but you’ll forget about those when you see the ones that everyone loved. 1988 has 5 films with ratings above 90%. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was not only an impressive technical achievement, but a very entertaining summer escape. Big made Tom Hanks a star. Bull Durham has been ranked by Sports Illustrated as the #1 sports movie of all time. Oh, and 1988 also gave birth to the modern action film (Die Hard). Thank you 1988.  

            Studs:

  • Willow – May 1988 – $57m (48%)
  • Crocodile Dundee 2 – May 1988 – $109m (11%)
  • Big – June 1988 – $114m (97%)
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit? – June 1988 – $154m (98%)
  • Coming to America – June 1988 – $128m (68%)
  • Bull Durham – June 1988 – $50m (97%)
  • Die Hard – July 1988 – $81m (92%)
  • A Fish Called Wanda – July 1988 – $63m (93%)
  • Cocktail – July 1988 – $78m (5%)

          Duds:

  • Rambo III – May 1988 – $53m ($58m) (36%)
  • Caddyshack II – July 1988 – $11m ($22m) (4%)
  • The Blob – August 1988 – $8m ($19m) (61%)

          Notables:

None


#6 – 1981

The birth of the Indiana Jones franchise. Do I need to say anything else? How about the release of three epic cult films? A formidable comic book film? What about Bill Murray? Are you convinced now? Movies from summer 1981 were awesome.

            Studs:

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark – June 1981 – $248m (95%)
  • The Cannonball Run – June 1981 – $57m (31%)
  • For Your Eyes Only – June 1981 – $54m (73%)
  • Superman II – June 1981 – $108m (89%)
  • Stripes – June 1981 – $85m (88%)
  • Arthur – July 1981 – $81m (90%)

          Duds:

  • Dragonslayer – June 1981 – $6m ($18m) (85%)

          Notables:

Outland (58%), Clash of the Titans (66%), The Fox and the Hound (69%), Escape from New York (83%), Tarzan the Ape Man (11%), An American Werewolf in London (91%)

(+6/-1)

 


#5 – 1998

armageddon-250212-6

1998 is the apex of 90’s movie technology. The message seemed to have been “Go Big or Go Home”, and that’s just what Hollywood did. There were not one, but two end-of-days asteroid epics, a monster Spielberg hit, and another well-loved Disney animated classic. Even the Jim Carrey comedy went big.  

            Studs:

  • Deep Impact – May 1998 – $140m (37%)
  • Godzilla – May 1998 – $136m (25%)
  • The Truman Show – June 1998 – $125m (94%)
  • Mulan – June 1998 – $120m (86%)
  • Doctor Dolittle – June 1998 – $144m (32%)
  • Armageddon – July 1998 – $201m (39%)
  • There’s Something About Mary – July 1998 – $176m (83%)
  • Saving Private Ryan – July 1998 – $216m (93%)

          Duds:

  • Quest for Camelot – May 1998 – $22m ($40m) (36%)
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – May 1998 – $10m ($18m) (50%)
  • Six Days, Seven Nights – June 1998 – $74m ($80m) (36%)
  • Out of Sight – June 1998 – $37m ($48m) (93%)
  • Lethal Weapon 4 – July 1998 – $130m ($140m) (52%)
  • The Negotiator – July 1998 – $44m ($50m) (75%)
  • Snake Eyes – August 1998 – $55m ($73m) (40%)
  • The Avengers – August 1998 – $23m ($60m) (5%)

          Notables:

The Horse Whisperer (73%), Hope Floats (24%), The X Files: Fight the Future (64%), Small Soldiers (47%), The Mask of Zorro (83%)


#4 – 1982

1982 has one film with a perfect score (Mad Max 2) and one with the worst possible score (Megaforce). Luckily, everyone remembers Mad Max 2 and no one remembers Megaforce. 1982 is a year of legendary summer releases. Spielberg’s megahit E.T. is perhaps the ultimate summer movie, and Wrath of Khan is as good as Star Trek movies ever got. Disney blew away audiences with Tron, and The Thing and Poltergeist gave horror fans something to cheer about. Even one of the studs, Blade Runner, ended up being one of the most highly-regarded sci-fi films of all time.

            Studs:

  • Annie – May 1982 – $57m (50%)
  • Rocky 3 – May 1982 – $125m (61%)
  • Poltergeist – June 1982 – $74m (87%)
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – June 1982 – $79m (90%)
  • E.T. The Extraterrestrial – June 1982 – $485m (98%)
  • The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas – July 1982 – $69m (56%)
  • An Officer and a Gentleman – July 1982 – $129m (81%)

          Duds:

  • Grease 2 – June 1982 – $4,600,000.00 ($13m) (22%)
  • Blade Runner – June 1982 – $32m ($28m) (91%)
  • Megaforce – June 1982 – $5,600,000.00 ($18m) (0%)

          Notables:

The Thing (80%), Firefox (42%), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (100%), Tron (70%), Fast Times at Ridgemont High (79%), Friday the 13th Part 3 (13%)


#3 – 2002

the bourne identity

At first glance, 2002 may not seem that impressive. But scroll down and then you’ll see why it ended up this high on our list. This year’s all about quantity, not as much about quality. 2002 has the most films released of any year on this list during the summer months. As such, it’s expected that there will be some duds, and indeed there are. Pluto Nash is one of the biggest box office bombs of all time. But let’s not dwell on that. Instead, let’s consider the franchises which released films this year; Star Wars, Spider-Man, Men in Black, Austin Powers, Jason Bourne, and Spy Kids. In addition, there’s a Spielberg film, a Christopher Nolan film, the last good Shyamalan film, a well-received graphic novel adaptation, a loved Disney animated feature, and a healthy dose of hilarious comedies. If you were bored at the movies in the summer of 2002, you must have been dead.

Studs:

  • Spider-Man – May 2002 – $403m (89%)
  • Star Wars Episode II – May 2002 – $310m (67%)
  • Scooby-Doo – June 2002 – $153m (30%)
  • Men in Black II – July 2002 – $190m (39%)
  • Austin Powers in Goldmember – July 2002 – $213m (54%)
  • Signs – August 2002 – $227m (74%)

          Duds:

  • Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron – May 2002 – $73m ($80m) (69%)
  • Bad Company – June 2002 – $30m ($70m) (10%)
  • Windtalkers – June 2002 – $40m ($115m) (32%)
  • Reign of Fire – July 2002 – $43m ($60m) (40%)
  • Eight Legged Freaks – July 2002 – $17m ($30m) (48%)
  • Stuart Little 2 – July 2002 – $120m ($64m) (81%)
  • K-19: The Widowmaker – July 2002 – $35m ($90m) (60%)
  • Blood Work – August 2002 – $26m ($50m) (53%)
  • The Adventures of Pluto Nash – August 2002 – $4m ($100m) (5%)
  • FearDotCom – August 2002 – $13m ($40m) (3%)

          Notables:

Unfaithful (49%), About a Boy (93%), Enough (22%), Insomnia (92%), Undercover Brother (77%), The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (44%), The Bourne Identity (83%), Lilo & Stitch (86%), Minority Report (90%), Mr. Deeds (22%), Like Mike (57%), Road to Perdition (81%), Spy Kids 2 (74%), xXx (48%)

 


#2 – 1989

1989 gave audiences a lot of choices and for the most part, didn’t disappoint. With only 2 duds and 11 hits, it has one of the highest ratios of hits vs. misses. It features a number of films from several well-loved franchises (Batman, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Lethal Weapon, James Bond, Honey I Shrunk the Kids) and features three very well-received stand alone movies (When Harry Met Sally, Parenthood, and Dead Poet’s Society). On top of this, it had a wide range or variety; action, adventure, science fiction, comedy, family, drama, and even a bit of horror. Sure, it had two duds, but those don’t really count against it in the long run. For one, the only duds in 1989 were two types of films that usually do not bomb; James Bond films and James Cameron films. Two, they’re very entertaining films and they have good ratings (excellent summer movies).  

            Studs:

  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – May 1989 – $197m (88%)
  • Dead Poet’s Society – June 1989 – $95m (85%)
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier – June 1989 – $52m (21%)
  • Batman – June 1989 – $251m (73%)
  • Ghostbusters 2 – June 1989 – $112m (51%)
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids – June 1989 – $130m (75%)
  • Lethal Weapon 2 – July 1989 – $147m (82%)
  • When Harry Met Sally – July 1989 – $92m (88%)
  • Turner & Hooch – July 1989 – $71m (54%)
  • Parenthood – August 1989 – $100m (92%)
  • Uncle Buck – August 1989 – $69m (64%)

          Duds:

  • Licence to Kill – July 1989 – $34m ($42m) (76%)
  • The Abyss – August 1989 – $54m ($70m) (88%)

          Notables:

Road House (40%), Do the Right Thing (96%)


#1 – 1984

Temple-of-Doom-Screencap-indiana-jones-18905057-1024-440

The summer of 1984 was as close to perfect as we’re probably going to get. Above all, it was a summer of films that were fun to watch. Temple of Doom may not be the best Indiana Jones film, but it is as entertaining as they come. Ghostbusters is a legendary good time, as is Gremlins, and The Karate Kid was an inspirational film that audiences couldn’t help but enjoy. Not only were the films of the summer of 1984 fun to watch, but they were well received by critics and audiences alike. All of the hits have a rating above 70%, and even the only dud of the season had a high rating. In fact, the only avoidable film in the whole summer season was Conan the Destroyer, but even that one has some watchability due to the fact that it stars Arnold Schwarzenegger. No other summer can touch 1984’s combination of fun, well-received and profitable collection of films.  

Studs

  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – May 1984 – $179m (84%)
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock – June 1984 – $76m (78%)
  • Ghostbusters – June 1984 – $238m (97%)
  • Gremlins – June 1984 – $148m (84%)
  • The Karate Kid – June 1984 – $90m (90%)
  • Purple Rain – July 1984 – $68m (74%)
  • The Neverending Story – July 1984 – $100m (worldwide) (81%)

          Duds

  • Once Upon A Time In America – June 1984 – $5m ($30m) (89%)

          Notables

Sixteen Candles (86%), Conan the Destroyer (27%), The Last Starfighter (76%), Red Dawn (53%)

 


That’s it! Which summer movie seasons were your favorite? Do you agree with our ranking?

Click here for Part 1 of our ranking.     

Here’s a look at how later years have compared:

Summer Movies By The Numbers: 2015 vs. 2016

Summer Movies by the Numbers: 2017 vs. 2018