Except when movie theaters are closed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer movie release period is critical to the $11 billion the industry brings in from ticket sales every year. Some of the biggest releases are done over the three long holiday periods of the season: Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day. If COVID-19 cases drop off in 2022, summer ticket sales will be a bonanza for an industry already challenged by the rise of streaming, as shelter from home viewership made a sharp upturn.
The biggest summer movie release of all time, thus far, is “Jurassic World,” which hit theaters in 2015 as the fourth installment in the franchise launched by the original “Jurassic Park” in 1993 (there have been five “Jurassic” films altogether, with a sixth scheduled for release next year). It brought in a record-setting $652.3 million in domestic ticket sales, plus $1.7 billion in ticket sales worldwide. (It clearly doesn’t count as one of the worst movie sequels ever made.)
To determine the biggest summer movie releases of all time, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on domestic and worldwide ticket sales from The Numbers, an online movie database owned by the consulting firm Nash Information Services. Films are ranked on lifetime domestic box office receipts. Ticket sales figures are not adjusted for inflation. (These are the highest-grossing movies that never hit No. 1 at the box office.)
Only films with domestic release dates in June, July, or August of their release years were considered. Tomatometer scores come from Rotten Tomatoes, an online movie and TV review aggregator, and IMDb ratings come from IMDb, an online movie database owned by Amazon. Plot summaries are drawn principally from Google and IMDb.