When did the best summer movies in history come out?

2010 was a hideous summer for movies. This got us wondering: When did the truly great summer movies come out? So we did some research - and created a chart that will make you weep with joy.

We went back sixty years, and pored over all the great summer movies, plotting out on a calendar when they would have hit theaters if they'd all been released in 2010 (the color codes tell you what year they were originally released). Not all these films is perfect, but every single one has its place in the pantheon of great scifi cinema. (Yes, even The Phantom Menace. Remember when people camped out for weeks to see it? Heck, Jabba the Hutt's 10-second cameo got more applause on opening night than your local U.S. Representative will ever receive in his or her lifetime.) And oh, we snuck in one film from 2010 that just rocked our socks.

This led to some starry-eyed fantasizing on our part — what if a roaring tide of great summer scifi came and washed all the stinking celluloid effluvium out of this summer's multiplexes? Oh, the options! Escape from New York, π, and Beyond Thunderdome would all come out the same day! Darren Aronofsky, Tina Turner, or Ernest Borgnine? However would we choose?

We also saw a few interesting trends. For example, as the years go by, you see more and more big movies getting released in May. In the 50s and 60s, August was a pretty big month for summer movies. But then the Star Wars movies staked out territory in May - and suddenly it was a sizzling movie month. Today it seems like the July 4 weekend pretty much signals the end of awesome movie season.


Also, you can see an odd historical repeat: Both Fly movies (the 50s and the 80s ones) came out in August.

Consider this chart a summer movie palate cleanser. Arrivederci, Summer 2010. May the movies of Summer 2011 bring us only joy with our Jujubes.

Illustration for article titled When did the best summer movies in history come out?

Awesome research by Lindsay Wolfe. Many thanks to our designer Stephanie Fox.


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Uhhh... why did you include Superman III and IV?

Three I guess you can sorta expect people to think good things are still coming for it, but IV everyone had to know was gonna suck out loud, which it did.