’80s summer blockbusters just hit different back in the day. So let’s go back to those heady days and talk about some big movies.


I got the idea for this week’s 12-Inch Poll after heading to the movies for the first time in over a year earlier this month. Like many people, the pandemic changed my relationship with movie theatres. In my case, I was already going to the movies less frequently before the pandemic. I didn’t go at all during the pandemic, and now I only go if there’s a movie I really want to see when it’s out.


That made me think about what a drastic difference that is from when I was a kid growing up in the ’80s. I feel like I went to the movies for EVERY big release back in the day. I’d hit the Showcase Cinema in Woburn (remember the old, green seats with the arms that detached?) or the Showcase Cinema in Revere (RIP). Either with my family or my friends, I was at the movies every other week.


And that’s the thing: the releases were big back in those days. They were events. And you had to see them in theatres because there was no streaming. And even when home video came along, you’d still have to wait a pretty long time to see those big films. Home video was for re-watching: if you waited until it was on video to watch it for the first time, it was already spoiled. You’d missed the moment.


’80s Summer Blockbusters: Which One’s Your Favorite?

Let’s recapture those moments. I used this Oscars blog post about summer blockbuster movies from the ’80s as a jumping-off point. Now it’s up to you to jump into my list, revisit the trailers from these ’80s classics, and vote for your favorite. May the force be with you!


  • Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back

    The summer of 1980. I was only three years old when this one came out: too young. My first Star Wars movie was Return of the Jedi a couple years later.

  • Raiders of the Lost Ark

    THE blockbuster of the summer of ’81. Steven Spielberg directing, Harrison Ford as Indy. Instantly iconic, and a franchise that’s still rolling 40+ years later.

  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

    One of my earliest movie memories. I remember seeing this in theatres with my parents back in ’82, but it might have just been my dad, as my kid brother was still a baby and likely stayed home with my mom.

  • Rocky III

    Some argue Rocky III is the best Rocky movie of all. All I know is that Mr. T as Clubber Lang is the best foe Rocky ever faced and that this Mr. T and this movie were everywhere in the summer of ’82.

  • Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi

    Summer, 1983. My first Star Wars movie. When I close my eyes, I can still picture the images up on the big screen. This one stuck with me for a long, long time.

  • The Karate Kid

    “Wax on, was off.” Pretty sure my friends and I spent most of the summer of ’84 quoting Mr. Miyagi and aping Daniel-san’s crane kick. Good times.

  • Gremlins

    I was 7 years old in 1984. I was not emotionally prepared for how dark this movie got (the dad-dressed-as-Santa scene; you know what I mean). That being said, I was Gremlin-obsessed and absolutely owned a Gizmo stuffed animal.

  • Ghostbusters

    Of all the movies in this week’s Poll, I expect this one will garner the most votes. It’s universally beloved and generations still go back to it regularly almost 40 years later.

  • Back to the Future

    Of all the movies in this week’s Poll, I expect this one will garner the most votes. It’s universally beloved and generations still go back to it regularly almost 40 years later. Yes, I know. I just repeated myself verbatim. But it’s true for this one, too.

  • The Goonies

    Man, was it cool to be a kid in the summer of ’85. You got Back to the Future AND Goonies. In the same damn summer. We were spoiled.

  • Top Gun

    Full disclosure: I don’t care for Top Gun. Or any of the films in the franchise. Maybe it’s because I didn’t see it when it came out in the summer of ’86.

  • Aliens

    Here’s another one I didn’t see when it was an actual summer blockbuster. I was 9 in the summer of ’86. Too young for Aliens.

  • Die Hard

    It’s funny how, every holiday season, everyone argues about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Of course it’s not! It’s a summer blockbuster! Summer of ’88!

  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit

    I was 11 in the summer of ’88 when Roger Rabbit hopped into theatres. Thinking back to it now, I think Jessica Rabbit was my first-ever movie crush. Can you blame me?

  • Batman

    The first, bona fide Batman movie. Prince’s “Batdance” anchoring the soundtrack. This was the summer of ’89 to my 12-year-old mind.

  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

    Look at Indy, sneaking in at the end of the decade for one more summer blockbuster. Speilberg, Lucas, Ford, Connery. Cinema gold.

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