EJ Moreno on the most significant event movies of all time…
It seems like everyone is excited for the Avengers film, Endgame. This event has people on social media buzzing, AMC is doing a 22-movie marathon leading up to it, and people are lining up outside of cinemas worldwide. A moment like this doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s always astounding to see.
For this piece, let’s look back at the most memorable event movies in Hollywood history. One of the only rules set for this list is that one film per franchise will feature. With the number of impressive franchises in Hollywood, it wouldn’t be far to see so many from just one brand. With that out of the way, let’s dive into some movie events!
10. Gone With The Wind
About 300,000 people showed up in Atlanta for the premiere for Gone With The Wind. Not only did the people of 1939 see a landmark film at the time, but this premiere had three-days of festivities leading up to it. This kind of event surrounding a film released was unheard of at the time, with President Jimmy Carter recalling it as “biggest event to happen in the South in my lifetime.”
To say the film broke records at the time would be an understatement. Just at the Capitol Theatre in New York, Gone With The Wind was averaging eleven thousand admissions per day in late 1930, and within four years of its release had sold an estimated sixty million tickets across the United States – those numbers being about just under half the population at the time. Adjust for inflation and the movie is the highest grossing of all-time sitting at about $3.7 billion.
The term “summer blockbuster” didn’t exist until Jaws. Everything about the film’s release was different as Universal Pictures had something momentous on their hands. The marketing was intense with the television campaign begin the strongest at the time with an unheard of $700,000 spent on national advertising. Jaws had an extensive amount of merchandise tie-ins, even before Star Wars made it a regular thing in 1977.
All of this came to a head during the film’s release when it was rolled out in the United States to mostly positive praise and a boatload of cash. It only took Jaws 78 days to overtake The Godfather as the biggest film in North America, and it went on to shatter box-office records Singapore, New Zealand, Japan, Spain, and Mexico. Even the United Kingdom went wild for its home release with 23 million people watched its inaugural broadcast in October 1981.
8. The Lion King
Animated films don’t often feel like Hollywood movements. Disney is always a fan-favorite, but they never got rabid fans as you’d see for Star Wars, Star Trek, or even the Ninja Turtles! That all changed during the Disney Renaissance in the early ’90s with The Little Mermaid and growing even wilder with Beauty and the Beast. Then the phenomenon we call The Lion King hit theaters in 1994.
Families flocked to see the film with The Lion King feeling like the must-see movie of 1994. It remains a staple part of the Disney catalog to this day with a remake just around the corner. Box Office Mojo estimates that the film sold over 74 million tickets in the US in its initial theatrical run, and it remains the highest-grossing traditionally animated film of all time. Another insane number, Disney racked in about $214 million for Lion King toys during Christmas 1994 alone!
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