The Real Reason We Call Hit Movies ‘Blockbusters’

The term “blockbuster” can have different meanings when it comes to movies. Those that typically fit the term are films with high budgets, remarkable special effects, and a star-studded cast, as reported by Film Draft. Furthermore, those that were considered blockbuster movies were the ones that made bank in box-office sales. In fact, Variety magazine called 1953 the “year of box-office blockbusters,” as about 135 movies that debuted that year earned at least $1 million, which is equivalent to approximately $10.3 million in today’s money (via Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive). In 1954, the magazine Film Bulletin published an article on film company United Artists, wherein the term “blockbuster” was used to describe films it will produce that achieve at least $2 million in sales in Canada and the United States.

Today, the factors that come into play when talking about blockbuster movies include the amount of money spent in production, the number of sales in a given time period, a positive reaction from movie critics, and its lasting impact on the audience.

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