Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > Entertainment Discussions > Movie Talk
Reload this Page >

How do you define "blockbuster"?

Movie Talk A Discussion area for everything movie related including films In The Theaters

How do you define "blockbuster"?

Old 06-10-24, 12:31 PM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Posts: 766
Received 148 Likes on 109 Posts
How do you define "blockbuster"?

This question popped into my head while reading another thread wherein two movies were called blockbusters. This surprised me, as I couldn't recall either being too successful.

So, assuming a film is released in theaters and isn't a streaming-only situation where the "true" viewership will never be known, where is the line between Blockbuster and Non-Blockbuster? I'm not even sure $200M gets you there with inflation, but maybe it's enough?
Old 06-10-24, 12:40 PM
  #2  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 5,609
Received 380 Likes on 291 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

Revenue is at least double the film's budget (including marketing) + pop culture water cooler talk = my definition of a blockbuster

For example (and I dislike the movie) - Napoleon Dynamite
  • $400,000 budget (from Box Office Mojo, probably doesn't include marketing costs)
  • $46,118,097 Worldwide Gross
  • Definitely had pop culture water cooler talk back in 2004

The following users liked this post:
story (06-11-24)
Old 06-10-24, 12:45 PM
  #3  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Posts: 13,312
Received 1,134 Likes on 821 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

$300,000,000 @ US domestic box office
Old 06-10-24, 12:55 PM
  #4  
Administrator
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,072
Received 1,103 Likes on 641 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

Blockbusters are a state of mind
-Barbie: intended, successful blockbuster
-Furiosa: intended, but failed (in terms of revenue) blockbuster
-Paranormal Activity: surprise blockbuster

It's a combination of studio intention as a tentpole, in-theater gross, and cultural cache
The following users liked this post:
story (06-11-24)
Old 06-10-24, 01:41 PM
  #5  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Somewhere between Heaven and Hell
Posts: 34,434
Received 791 Likes on 570 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

Originally Posted by Count Dooku
$300,000,000 @ US domestic box office
What if the movie cost $350M to make and market and isn't China friendly?
Old 06-10-24, 01:56 PM
  #6  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 45,423
Received 1,051 Likes on 832 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

Blockbuster meant actual lines, so I'll go with actual lines.
The following 3 users liked this post by RichC2:
Ash Ketchum (06-11-24), Crocker Jarmen (06-10-24), story (06-11-24)
Old 06-10-24, 02:37 PM
  #7  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Posts: 1,990
Received 148 Likes on 112 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

It's an arbitrary description used by the marketing departments, media and PR agencies. Movies should have been judged by the number of tickets sold but instead they used dollars at the box office which can be easily skewed and manipulated as required. Inflation calculations are also difficult to determine accurately.

A movie in New York City might be $17 a ticket whereas in Smalltown, USA the price might be $9.75 for the same film on the same opening night.
The following users liked this post:
IBJoel (06-10-24)
Old 06-10-24, 02:39 PM
  #8  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
Crocker Jarmen's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 8,882
Received 507 Likes on 332 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

Originally Posted by RichC2
Blockbuster meant actual lines, so I'll go with actual lines.
Correct. Jaws, The Exorcist, Star Wars, literally lines around the block. With that huge of an audience, the top-grossing and pop-cultural status came naturally.

It's one of those terms that may not work anymore, like when I say I'm setting the DVR to "tape my show".
The following 4 users liked this post by Crocker Jarmen:
Ash Ketchum (06-11-24), HeIsTheZissou (06-11-24), RichC2 (06-10-24), story (06-11-24)
Old 06-10-24, 03:47 PM
  #9  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Austin, TX, USA
Posts: 13,312
Received 1,134 Likes on 821 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

Originally Posted by devilshalo
What if the movie cost $350M to make and market and isn't China friendly?
The concept of a blockbuster was always simply a matter of how much money a movie earned at the US box office. The original measure was $100,000,000. Therefore the new definition is adjusting the amount for 2024.

How much a movie cost to make is not a factor because it was never a measure of profitability, just raw box office dollars, and the US is the only market that matters. If you want to categorize a film as a blockbuster based on the international box office, then you have to call it a "world-wide blockbuster."
Old 06-11-24, 05:50 AM
  #10  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Atascadero, CA
Posts: 10,679
Received 291 Likes on 212 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

A movie my elderly mother brings up is a blockbuster. Dune part 2 has been the only blockbuster this year.
Old 06-11-24, 05:57 AM
  #11  
DVD Talk Legend
 
Ash Ketchum's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 12,671
Received 291 Likes on 225 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

Although the meaning has changed over the decades, as I recall, "blockbuster" used to refer to those big Hollywood epics that cost millions, hopefully made millions and played reserved seat runs in the largest downtown movie palaces before spreading out, gradually, to neighborhood "showcase" theaters in the outer boroughs and finally the 3rd run "nabes," neighborhood theaters with lower prices and battered, sometimes shortened prints. Films like QUO VADIS (1951), THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956), BEN-HUR (1959), THE LONGEST DAY (1962), LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962), SPARTACUS (1960), EL CID (1961), IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1963), HOW THE WEST WAS WON (1963) and CLEOPATRA (1963).

Then in the 1970s, "blockbuster" shifted to become those films which played thousands of theaters at a time and were quick to capitalize on immediate audience interest and make lots of money much quicker than the epics. These were more genre entertainments rather than historical spectacles, so we got LOVE STORY, THE GODFATHER, THE EXORCIST, JAWS, STAR WARS, and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Four of these were based on best-selling novels.

Nowadays, with $200 million budgets and wide runs the norm for franchise-spawned CGI-created action and fantasy films, it's taken on yet a new meaning.
Old 06-11-24, 08:28 AM
  #12  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2022
Posts: 766
Received 148 Likes on 109 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

Originally Posted by Crocker Jarmen
Correct. Jaws, The Exorcist, Star Wars, literally lines around the block. With that huge of an audience, the top-grossing and pop-cultural status came naturally.

It's one of those terms that may not work anymore, like when I say I'm setting the DVR to "tape my show".
Dad?
Old 06-11-24, 09:07 AM
  #13  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Somewhere between Heaven and Hell
Posts: 34,434
Received 791 Likes on 570 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

Originally Posted by Ash Ketchum
Then in the 1970s, "blockbuster" shifted to become those films which played thousands of theaters at a time and were quick to capitalize on immediate audience interest and make lots of money much quicker than the epics. These were more genre entertainments rather than historical spectacles, so we got LOVE STORY, THE GODFATHER, THE EXORCIST, JAWS, STAR WARS, and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.
Wasn't Star Wars' release somewhat limited, but later expanded once it blew up? I know being in Hawaii at the time, we rarely got films during its initial release. June 8, 1977 was when I was standing in line at the Cinerama for Star Wars, not May 25th.
Old 06-11-24, 09:49 AM
  #14  
Inane Thread Master, 2018 TOTY
 
OldBoy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Are any of us really anywhere?
Posts: 49,881
Received 988 Likes on 825 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

the movie they make big.
Old 06-11-24, 12:23 PM
  #15  
DVD Talk Hall of Fame
 
Crocker Jarmen's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 8,882
Received 507 Likes on 332 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

Interesting. On Wikipedia, it describes the origins of "blockbuster" coming from comparison to arial bombing, specifically for a film about bombers:

The term began to appear in the American press in the early 1940s,[1] referring to the blockbuster bombs, aerial munitions capable of destroying a whole block of buildings.[2] Its first known use in reference to films was in May 1943, when advertisements in Variety[3] and Motion Picture Herald described the RKO film, Bombardier, as "The block-buster of all action-thrill-service shows!" Another trade advertisement in 1944 boasted that the war documentary, With the Marines at Tarawa, "hits the heart like a two ton blockbuster."

...Another explanation is that trade publications would often advertise the popularity of a film by including illustrations showing long queues often extending around the block, but in reality the term was never used in this way. The term was actually first coined by publicists who drew on readers' familiarity with the blockbuster bombs, drawing an analogy with the bomb's huge impact. The trade press subsequently appropriated the term as short-hand for a film's commercial potential. Throughout 1943 and 1944 the term was applied to films such as Bataan, No Time for Love and Brazil.[4]
The following users liked this post:
IBJoel (06-11-24)
Old 06-11-24, 12:39 PM
  #16  
Administrator
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 3,072
Received 1,103 Likes on 641 Posts
Re: How do you define "blockbuster"?

Originally Posted by Crocker Jarmen
Interesting. On Wikipedia, it describes the origins of "blockbuster" coming from comparison to arial bombing, specifically for a film about bombers:
action-thrill-service shows
I'm going to start referring to genre films this way from now on

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.