Summer is officially here. The season means many things to many people: for children, ending the school year; for teens, starting a summer job; for adults, taking that long-awaited vacation. It is a time for picnics, family cookouts, and sports events—from Major League Baseball games to those played by Little Leaguers. It is also a time to beat the summer heat and head to the air-conditioned theaters for the highly anticipated action/adventure/suspense movies.
Ever since Jaws broke the $100 million threshold for ticket sales in 1975, studios began re-evaluating release schedules, realizing that viewers were quick to flock to theaters from May through August to see spectacular pictures, that is, those with big budgets, big action, and big effects. In addition to reaping over-the-top box-office revenue, the studios want these films to be memorable, particularly when it comes to Academy season. And indeed, quite a few of these summer movies—at least certain lines or scenes—are ingrained in our memory. In fact, the mere mention of one of these titles can bring back personal memories of a long-forgotten event or period in our lives—more or less insignificant happenings, but those that make us smile.
Let’s start at the beginning, with Jaws. I am sure there are more than a few of you who, whether you will admit it or not, looked twice before diving into your clear, chlorinated pool to make sure there wasn’t an unexpected fin cutting the water surface. Two summers later, a new cultural phenomena was born when George Lucas introduced Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader, and Yoda, and in the process, redefined the science-fiction genre—a trend he continues to this day with the upcoming Clone Wars, scheduled for August. Throughout this nearly 30-year span, how many young boys were recruited as lightsaber-wielding Jedi, battling Darth Vader or a sith? Truth be told, my son had to battle adults who found his Christmas present of lightsabers too irresistible. And how many teen boys had a poster of Princess Leia tacked to their wall? As for Han Solo, how many women swooned over this rugged pilot, only to fall harder when he donned a western-style hat and a whip, turning archaeology into a sexy summertime adventure that continues today after a long hiatus.
And just in time to celebrate the Fourth of July, we had Will Smith, Tom Cruise, and others to thank for saving our country—and our planet—from cosmic disaster or alien invasion. Dark glasses and odd-looking weapons became popular props, fear struck hard when War of the Worlds started anew, and kids of all sizes became awestruck by vehicles that transformed into robots. Next came the onslaught of Marvel-ous characters, from Spider-Man, to Batman, to the Fantastic Four, and more—each subsequent movie filled with more thrills than the previous one. Just how many of you were reminded of your youth, when you tied a cape around your neck and ran around the house as the Caped Crusader or devised a web slinger to snare villains? Similarly, pirates have always been popular, but never so much as when Johnny Depp sailed the seas. No doubt when your children grow up, they will look back on their sword-fighting, eye-patch-wearing, treasure-seeking days with a smile.
Movies create memories. And this year’s 2008 summer blockbuster season has a good deal to offer in terms of potential memory-makers—from the return of Indiana Jones, to the return of the Incredible Hulk, to the return of the Mummy, from a new handsome Narnian prince, to a new, iron-willed comic book hero. Which one will create a lasting memory for you?