The big budget movies during the summer. You know the ones.
The summer blockbuster is generally categorized by: being heavily advertised well over a year before its premiere, an immense budget by whatever major film studio is producing it, often-times a well-known cast of actors or production crew (with some degree of variance), the prevalence of sequels, and an overall emphasis on BIG. Big Budget, Big Stars, Big Effects, and (so the studio prays) Big Profits.
The modern summer blockbuster began primarily with three movies: Jaws, Star Wars, and Raiders of the Lost Ark (the Trope Maker, Namer, and Codifier, respectively) and continued on from there, opening up space for films that previously would have been considered too risky or expensive to make: the first Terminator movie, Back to the Future, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and so on. Because the good and/or popular ones do, in fact, yield Big Bucks, people continue to make them today.
Summer blockbusters are often (or are often thought to be) at odds with critics because as a general rule they emphasize flash over substance.
Compare and contrast B-Movie, Dump Months, Le Film Artistique, Oscar Bait and Epic Movie (which is usually a high-minded, sprawling drama rather than an action or fantasy flick). Not to be confused with The Mockbuster, no matter how hard studios like The Asylum try. This type of film came of age mainly during (of course) The Blockbuster Age of Hollywood.
- Actionized Sequel
- Bullet Time
- Dirt Forcefield
- Outrun the Fireball
- Special Effects (can range from Visual Effects of Awesome to Special Effect Failure)
- Stuff Blowing Up