History of Cinema 12 – Blockbusters

A BLOCKBUSTER is a large bomb in World War 2. It received the nickname for it’s ability to decimate entire blocks of a city.

The term was first coined in 11/29/1942 in an article about Allied bombing in Italy. Time Magazine picked it up in 1943’s article “Mission to Moscow Is As Explosive As A Blockbuster.”

I had a difficult time finding any Youngstein photos. I am sure that he is not the blonde starlet in the middle.

Producer Max Youngstein, in 1952, defined a blockbuster as any film that grossed over $2 million. Time continued to find new ways to use the term by calling Supreme Court rulings and football plays blockbusters.

The term lost its meaning until 6/20/1975 when Jaws became th first Summer Blockbuster. It was not normal to watch movies in the summertime before Jaws. The film became the model of what is to be expected to this day. Audience behavior, exhibitor spending, and production and release planning all changed in a fundamental way. Star Wars cemented the idea.

Before Jaws there were a few blockbusters. In 1949, the British Daily Mirror thought that Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah would be a blockbuster. Variety called Quo Vadis a blockbuster in 1951. 1953 was the Year of Blockbusters as 135 films each grossed $1 million.

What is your favorite blockbuster?

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