Blockbuster (entertainment)

The term blockbuster was originally defined by a large audience response. After a while to a high-budget production at mass markets, with associated merchandising, on which the financial fortunes of a film studio or a distributor depended. It was defined by its production budget and marketing effort rather than its success and popularity, and was essentially a tag that a movie’s marketing itself.

Origin of the term

The term began to appear in the American press in the early 1940s, [1] referring to aerial bombs capable of destroying a whole block of streets. [2] Later, successful movies, hit movies, best selling novels , and computer games.

In film, a number of terms were used to describe a hit. In the 1970s these included: “spectacular” ( The Wall Street Journal ), “super-grosser” ( New York Times ), and “super-blockbuster” ( Variety ). In 1975 the use of “blockbuster” for movies coalesced around Steven Spielberg ‘s Jaws has become perceived as something new: a cultural phenomenon, a fast-paced exciting entertainment, almost a genre. Audiences interacted with such films, talked about them afterwards, and went back to see them again just for the thrill. [3]

Blockbuster movies

Before Jaws set box office records in the summer of 1975, successful films, such as Quo Vadis , The Ten Commandments , Gone with the Wind , and Ben-Hur , were called blockbusters based purely on the amount of money earned at the box office. Jaws is considered as the first film of New Hollywood ‘s “blockbuster era” with its current meaning, implying a genre film. [4] It also consolidated the “summer blockbuster” trend, through which major film studios and distributors planned their entire annual marketing strategy around a big release by July 4. [5]

Jaws exceeded $ 100,000,000 in film sales and sales in North America. [6] However earlier films such as Gone with the Wind (1939) and The Sound of Music (1965) easily passed this threshold. [7]

After the success of Jaws , a lot of Hollywood movie sellers. Film companies started green lighting and were highly releasing extensively on massive advertising blitzes leading up to their theatrical release.

Although the term “blockbuster” was originally defined by audience response, it was a medium-sized, high-budget production with mass market, with associated merchandising, on which the financial fortunes of film studio or distributor depended. It was defined by its production budget and marketing effort rather than its success and popularity, and was essentially a tag that a movie’s marketing itself. In this way it became possible to refer to such films as Hollywood’s Godzilla (1998) or Last Action Hero (1993) both a blockbuster and a box office disaster. [8]

Eventually, the focus on creating blockbusters grew so intense that a backlash occurred, with critics and some movie-makers decrying the prevalence of a ” blockbuster mentality ” and lamenting the death of the author-driven, “more artistic” small-scale movies of the New Hollywood era. This view is taken, for example, by movie journalist Peter Biskind , who wrote that they were all Jaws , and as production costs rose, they were less willing to take risks and therefore based on the “lowest common denominators” of the mass market. [9]

In a book written by Chris Anderson titled The Long Tail , he mentions the many different possibilities of the film brought to Hollywood and the many ancillary markets that followed. It is a society that is hit-driven, and makes way for only those films that are expected to be a hit, is in fact a limited society. [10] Anderson notes in The Long Tailthe example of a world that thrives on that is a world of scarcity. As the transition of online distribution has been made, it has been seen that we are now entering a world of abundance, and not of limited possibilities. As time went on, and people became more comfortable with it, the changes were astounding. He also speaks on the society and the voice of society is listed to. If a movie was a blockbuster hit, it may have only seemed that way to the people who traveled to spend their money on it. For the individuals who did not, their voices were somewhat silent. And when directors would sit down to make a film of another blockbuster, they would watch the film instead of a collective whole.

Low-budget hits

When a film is made of a low budget is particularly successful or exceeds the expectations of the films in its genre, then that film is a blockbuster as well, in the original meaning of the word. Such films may not receive the title “blockbuster” in the current meaning of the word but are labeled “hits” or ” sleepers “.

Return on investment

The financial demands of widespread marketing and distribution are a major factor in generating profits. This HAS led to a phenomenon whereby blockbuster movies Such As Superman Returns (2006), The Last Airbender (2010) Battleship (2012), Edge of Tomorrow (2014), and The Legend of Tarzan(2016) have been perceived as less than $ 300 million worldwide. As a consequence some film producers have turned to distributing small but promising, low-budget films with the hopes of capitalizing on the modern market’s film consumption. The term “sleeper hit” may not be used in this industry, but films that yield extreme profits based on investment. A number of films have been produced at extremely low budgets that have been produced, producing a very high return on investment to their respective studios.

An example of this is the 2004 documentary film Tarnation , whose budget weighed in at $ 218 and whose sales ticket totaled $ 1.16 million, a profit margin of 266,416.97%. A more famous example is the 2007 thriller Paranormal Activity , which operated on a budget of $ 15,000 and took in over $ 193 million in worldwide ticket sales. Other low-budget high-gross movies include The Blair Witch Project , Halloween , Pulp Fiction , American Graffiti , Napoleon Dynamite , Get Out and Deadpool .

See also

  • Box office bomb
  • Four-quadrant movie
  • List of highest-grossing openings for movies
  • List of highest-grossing movies
  • Oscar season
  • Sleeper hit
  • AAA game , equivalent in the videogame industry


  1. Jump up^ Google Ngram Viewer: blockbuster
  2. Jump up^ Oxford: blockbuster
  3. Jump up^ Tom Shone: Blockbuster (2004). London, Simon & Schuster UK. ISBN 0-7432-6838-5. See pp. 27-40.
  4. Jump up^ Neale, Steve. “Hollywood Blockbusters: Historical Dimensions.” Ed. Julien Stinger. Hollywood Blockbusters. London: Routeledge, 2003. pp. 48-50. Print.
  5. Jump up^ Shone (2004), Chapter 1.
  6. Jump up^ Jaws
  7. Jump up^ All Time Box Office (adjusted for inflation)
  8. Jump up^ Shone (2004), page 28.
  9. Jump up^ Peter Biskind: Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock ‘N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood . Simon and Schuster, 1998.
  10. Jump up^ Anderson, Chris. “The Long Tail” (PDF) . Chris Anderson . Retrieved April 20, 2011 .