Hollywood summer blockbusters are a surprisingly modern phenomena, originating when technical issues with the mechanical shark meant Stephen Spielberg’s Jaws was delayed until July 1975.
The movie’s success transformed how Hollywood studios scheduled the release of their biggest blockbusters, and audiences ever since have been treated to some of the year’s most eagerly anticipated releases during the summer months.
To compile this list of movies earning the most in revenue, Newsweek examined worldwide box office figures of films released in the U.S. between May and August from movie database The Numbers.
Here are the most successful summer movie blockbusters of all time…
25. Despicable Me 2 ($975,216,835)
2013 ‧ Family/Comedy ‧ 1h 38m
In the second installment of the Despicable Me franchise, the Anti-Villain League decides to hire reformed super-villain Gru to wage war against a new super-criminal.
Rotten Tomatoes’ crucial consensus states: “Despicable Me 2 offers plenty of eye-popping visual inventiveness and a number of big laughs.”
24. The Lion King ($986,214,868)
1994 ‧ Family/Musical ‧ 1h 29m
Disney’s iconic 1994 musical animation follows lion cub Simba’s journey to adulthood and the acceptance of his royal destiny when the princeling returns to reclaim his throne.
Rotten Tomatoes’ crucial consensus states: “Emotionally stirring, richly drawn, and beautifully animated, The Lion King stands tall within Disney‘s pantheon of classic family films.”
23. The Dark Knight ($999,046,281)
2008 ‧ Action/Adventure ‧ 2h 32m
Gotham City’s mafia hires psychopathic criminal mastermind The Joker, who offers to kill Batman.
Rotten Tomatoes’ crucial consensus states: “Dark, complex and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga.”
Stream on Hulu
22. Finding Dory ($1,025,006,125)
2016 ‧ Family/Adventure ‧ 2 hours
Forgetful blue tang fish Dory heads off in search of her long-lost parents with the help of her aquatic friends.
Rotten Tomatoes’ crucial consensus states: “Funny, poignant, and thought-provoking, Finding Dory delivers a beautifully animated adventure that adds another entertaining chapter to its predecessor’s classic story.”
21. Star Wars: The Phantom Menace ($1,027,044,677)
1999 ‧ Sci-fi/Adventure ‧ 2h 16m
A pair of powerful Jedi Knights attempt to stop the Trade Federation from invading the planet Naboo.
Rotten Tomatoes’ crucial consensus states: “Burdened by exposition and populated with stock characters, The Phantom Menace gets the Star Wars prequels off to a bumpy
—albeit visually dazzling—start.”
20. Despicable Me 3 ($1,032,596,894)
2017 ‧ Family/Comedy ‧ 1h 36m
The third Despicable Me film, which beat both its predecessors at the box office, tells the story of a former child star obsessed with the character he played in the 1980s, who proves to be Gru’s most formidable nemesis he has yet encountered.
Rotten Tomatoes’ crucial consensus states: “Despicable Me 3 should keep fans of the franchise consistently entertained with another round of colorful animation and zany—albeit somewhat scattershot—humor.”
19. Jurassic Park ($1,045,573,035)
1993 ‧ Sci-fi/Adventure ‧ 2h 8m
A paleontologist visiting a theme park containing cloned dinosaurs is tasked with protecting a group of humans after a power failure leads to the animals’ release.
Rotten Tomatoes’ crucial consensus states: “Jurassic Park is a spectacle of special effects and life-like animatronics, with some of Spielberg’s best sequences of sustained awe and sheer terror since Jaws.”
Stream on Peacock
18. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($1,045,713,80)
2011 ‧ Adventure/Action ‧ 2h 17m
The fourth installment of the Pirates series sees Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) fall in love with the enigmatic Angelica (Penelope Cruz), who forces him aboard the ship of the legendary pirate Blackbeard.
Rotten Tomatoes’ crucial consensus states: “It’s shorter and leaner than the previous sequel, but this Pirates runs aground on a disjointed plot and a non-stop barrage of noisy action sequences.”
Stream on Starz
17. Aladdin ($1,046,649,706)
2019 ‧ Family/Musical ‧ 2h 8m
In the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic, kind-hearted thief Aladdin, his love Princess Jasmine and the mischievous Genie race to save the kingdom’s ruler.
Rotten Tomatoes’ crucial consensus states: “Aladdin retells its classic source material’s story with sufficient spectacle and skill, even if it never approaches the dazzling splendor of the animated original.”
16. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest ($1,066,179,72)
2006 ‧ Adventure/Action ‧ 2h 31m
Captain Jack Sparrow searches for legendary pirate Davy Jones to avoid being enslaved by him, in the second of the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Rotten Tomatoes’ crucial consensus states: “Gone is [Johnny] Depp’s unpredictability and much of the humor and originality of the first movie.”
15. Toy Story 3 ($1,068,879,522)
2010 ‧ Family/Comedy ‧ 1h 48m
When owner Andy readies to depart for college, his loyal toys find themselves trapped in daycare, from where they plot their escape.
Rotten Tomatoes’ crucial consensus states: “Deftly blending comedy, adventure, and honest emotion, Toy Story 3 is a rare second sequel that really works.”
14. Toy Story 4 ($1,073,080,32)
2019 ‧ Family/Comedy ‧ 1h 40m
Just beating the third in the animated series of films, Toy Story 4 follows Woody and his friends on a road trip that reveals just how vast the world can be for a toy.
Rotten Tomatoes’ crucial consensus states: “Heartwarming, funny, and beautifully animated, Toy Story 4 manages the unlikely feat of extending—and perhaps concluding—a practically perfect animated saga.”
13. The Dark Knight Rises ($1,082,228,107)
2012 ‧ Action/Thriller ‧ 2h 44m
Eight years after Batman vanished, arrives Bane, a masked terrorist with ruthless plans for Gotham City.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “The Dark Knight Rises is an ambitious, thoughtful, and potent action film that concludes Christopher Nolan’s franchise in spectacular fashion.”
12. Transformers: Age of Extinction ($1,104,054,072)
2014 ‧ Action/Sci-fi ‧ 2h 45m
With help from a new team of humans, Optimus Prime and his Autobots battle a shadowy group attempting to control the direction of history.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “With the fourth installment in Michael Bay’s blockbuster Transformers franchise, nothing is in disguise: Fans of loud, effects-driven action will find satisfaction, and all others need not apply.”
11. Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($1,123,794,079)
2011 ‧ Action/Sci-fi ‧ 2h 37m
A mysterious event from the planet’s past erupts into the present which threatens to bring a war to Earth so colossal, the Transformers alone will not be able to save Earth.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “Its special effects—and 3D shots—are undeniably impressive, but they aren’t enough to fill up its loud, bloated running time, or mask its thin, indifferent script.”
10. Spider-Man: Far from Home ($1,132,183,514)
2019 ‧ Action/Adventure ‧ 2h 9m
Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man battles a new threat while on a school summer vacation to Europe.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “A breezily unpredictable blend of teen romance and superhero action, Spider-Man: Far From Home stylishly sets the stage for the next era of the MCU.”
9. Minions ($1,159,631,140)
2015 ‧ Family/Comedy ‧ 1h 31m
Minion Kevin, his rebellious friend Stuart and lovable little Bob venture into the world to find a new evil boss for their fellow creatures to follow.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “The Minions’ brightly colored brand of gibberish-fueled insanity stretches to feature-length in their self-titled Despicable Me spinoff, with uneven but often hilarious results.”
8. Iron Man 3 ($1,215,392,272)
2013 ‧ Action/Adventure ‧ 2h 11m
After his world is destroyed, Iron Man is pitted against an enemy whose evil powers know no bounds.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “With the help of its charismatic lead, some impressive action sequences, and even a few surprises, Iron Man 3 is a witty, entertaining adventure and a strong addition to the Marvel canon.”
7. Incredibles 2 ($1,242,805,359)
2018 ‧ Family/Comedy ‧ 2h 5m
The family of superheroes returns, with Bob facing the challenges of stay-at-home parenting, while wife Helen attempts to stop another supervillain.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “Incredibles 2 reunites Pixar’s family crimefighting team for a long-awaited follow-up that may not quite live up to the original, but comes close enough to earn its name.”
6. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom ($1,308,334,005)
2018 ‧ Action/Sci-fi ‧ 2h 10m
Four years after Jurassic World’s destruction, the island’s dormant volcano roars into life, triggering a race to save the park’s dinosaurs.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom adds another set piece-packed entry to the blockbuster franchise, although genuinely thrilling moments are in increasingly short supply.”
5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ($1,334,392,544)
2011 ‧ Fantasy/Fantasy ‧ 2h 10m
The battle between Harry Potter and his friends and the evil forces of the wizarding world escalates into an all-out war.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “Thrilling, powerfully acted, and visually dazzling, Deathly Hallows Part II brings the Harry Potter franchise to a satisfying—and suitably magical—conclusion.”
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron ($1,395,316,979)
2015 ‧ Action/Adventure ‧ 2h 22m
Tony Stark and Bruce Banner ready an AI peacekeeping program called Ultron, but the project goes catastrophically out of control.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “Exuberant and eye-popping, Avengers: Age of Ultron serves as an overstuffed but mostly satisfying sequel, reuniting its predecessor’s unwieldy cast with a few new additions and a worthy foe.”
3. The Avengers ($1,515,100,211)
2012 ‧ Adventure/Action ‧ 2h 24m
The planet’s superheroes must learn to fight together to prevent mischievous demigod Loki and his alien army from conquering the world.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “Thanks to a script that emphasizes its heroes’ humanity and a wealth of superpowered set pieces, The Avengers lives up to its hype and raises the bar for Marvel at the movies.”
2. The Lion King ($1,654,381,934)
2019 ‧ Family/Adventure ‧ 1h 58m
The 2019 photorealistic remake of the Disney classic again follows young lion prince Simba, who flees his kingdom after the murder of his father and returns to regain what is rightfully his.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “While it can take pride in its visual achievements, The Lion King is a by-the-numbers retelling that lacks the energy and heart that made the original so beloved—though for some fans that may just be enough.”
1. Jurassic World ($1,669,979,967)
2015 ‧ Action/Sci-fi ‧ 2h 5m
The Jurassic World luxury resort, providing a habitat for an array of genetically engineered dinosaurs, transforms into a nightmare for tourists when one particularly deadly dinosaur escapes.
Rotten Tomatoes’ critics’ consensus states: “Jurassic World can’t match the original for sheer inventiveness and impact, but it works in its own right as an entertaining—and visually dazzling—popcorn thriller.”