The biggest, loudest films designed purely to entertain: all released between the months of May and August and grossing more than US$100 million
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981): Is there a more purely perfect action hero in all of adventure flickdom than Indiana Jones? Tom Selleck must still be kicking himself for turning down the role. Expect Nazis and snakes. Lots of snakes.
Jaws (1975): Until Jaws, films were released gradually, opening in a few major cities until they became a success – only then were prints forwarded to cinemas across the country. Excited by feedback from advance screenings, studio bosses took the unusual step of unleashing Jaws nationwide on one day. The summer blockbuster was born, and Jaws remains not just the first, but undoubtedly one of the best.
Ghostbusters (1984): Dan Akroyd pitched this monster hit as ghost-busting fighters travelling through time and dimensions, using wands instead of Proton Packs. Ivan Reitman overhauled the story, and a pop culture touchstone transpired.
ET The Extra-Terrestrial (1982): This was the highest grosser ever until Jurassic Park supplanted it. An elderly woman, Pat Welsh, provides the voice of ET – she smoked 40 cigarettes a day.
The Empire Strikes Back (1980): The most anticipated sequel of all time also contains the reveal to end all reveals. To keep the secret, ‘I am your father’ did not appear in the script – only George Lucas, director Irvin Kershner, Mark Hamill and James Earle Jones knew that the line would be added.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991): A motorcycle accident stopped original choice Billy Idol from playing the T-1000. Good news for Robert Patrick.
Face/Off (1997): The most ridiculous concept Hollywood ever threw money at, but it works. Arnie and Sly Stallone were considered before Nic Cage and John Travolta made the cut.
Aliens (1986): The mother of all monster movies earned Sigourney Weaver an Oscar nomination for Best Actress – a landmark for a sci-fi/horror film.
The Bourne Identity (2002): Until Bourne, Matt Damon was just Ben Affleck’s buddy. An awesome car chase in a banged-up Mini catapulted him onto the action A-list.
20 Jurassic Park(1993): Tim Burton bid for the rights, but it was to be Spielberg’s mega-hit, which gives us some calm moments of awe before a T-Rex mangles a goat.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988): Robert Zemeckis’s comic-book noir is a benchmark for mixing live action with animation, anticipating today’s ubiquitous CGI-hybrid blockbusters.
Die Hard (1988): Bruce Willis was seventh in line to star in this era-defining actioner: Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Burt Reynolds, Richard Gere, Harrison Ford and Mel Gibson were offered it first, but all turned the role down.
Total Recall (1990): Reasons to love Total Recall: the tracker up the nose, Arnie in a dress, and a reasonable plot twist to boot. Undoubtedly one of the Governator’s best.
Batman (1989): Heath Ledger hit a bullseye with his Joker, but that doesn’t devalue Jack Nicholson’s gloriously deranged take in the original film. Plus, he did it to a Prince soundtrack.
Gladiator (2000): No one brings the huge like Ridley Scott, recapturing the grandeur of earlier landmarks Alien and Blade Runner with this massive Roman-era epic. 155 mins
Gremlins (1984): You remember the rules: no bright light. No water. And no food after midnight. But Gremlins may have been too dark: a month after its release, the PG-13 rating was introduced.
Wall-E (2008): Pixar had never produced anything so perversely post-apocalyptic: a quirky robot cleans up a ruined, abandoned Mother Earth. The lesson: pop animation can go beyond princesses and fart jokes.
The Dark Knight (2008): Silly Katie Holmes turned down the chance to reprise her role as DA Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight to star in Mad Money with Diane Keaton. One film grossed more than US$1bn; the other did not.
Back to the Future (1985): Michael J Fox earned his place in this ace franchise: he was already committed to TV show Family Ties, so he filmed the show in the day and the movie at night.
Independence Day (1996): This set the bar for blowing major landmarks to smithereens on screen. We hear the US military originally intended to provide vehicles and costumes for the film, but backed out when the producers refused to remove Area 51 references from the script.