Blockbuster (entertainment)

From ArticleWorld

For a film to be classed as a Blockbuster it generally has to achieve takings at the box office which reach or exceed a level which is set by the film industry as a whole. This level is hoped to be higher than the budget which was spent on making the film in order for it to make a profit and by financially successful for the studio which made it. Sometimes films which star high profile actors and which have had much time and money invested in them through promotion and advertisement can be labelled as Blockbusters, regardless of financial achievement. This is because of the public awareness of the film, rather than the box office figures, and this type of Blockbuster can sometimes be a box office flop.


The first film to be recognised as a Blockbuster on its takings was Steven Spielberg’s Jaws in 1975. At this point the Blockbuster threshold was $100 million and once it had been achieved once, many more films followed swiftly after. At the start of the 21st Century the threshold was raised to $200 million in order to reflect the increased prices of cinema tickets. For some films, this limit of $200 million is only for sales in North America and in order to be a worldwide Blockbuster it must achieve $400 million in ticket sales around the globe.


Nobody knows exactly where the term Blockbuster came from but there are several proposed theories. Initially the term was used in the theatre world and one suggestion is that a play which was particularly successful could drive others on the same block to closure, therefore busting the block. Another idea is that a film which drew a large audience would create a queue from the cinema around the blocks in America, causing congestion, delays and damaging the block system.