The Evolution of the Summer Blockbuster

King Spielberg and King Lucas

Having each revolutionized the film industry and made a fortune in the process, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas made a move in 1981 that was totally appropriate for The Decade of Greed: They joined forces. While on vacation together in Hawaii, the close friends conceived the character of Indiana Jones, who first appeared in 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The dynamic duo decided that Spielberg would direct and Lucas would produce, which turned out to be yet another groundbreaking moment, as Lucas was able to convince Paramount to finance the film’s entire $20 million budget but let him retain ownership of 40 percent of the film and collect half of the profits once it hit a specific threshold. Money.

The film ended up as the highest grossing film of 1981, lassoing up $389 million worldwide, and spawned three more features and one TV show (The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles) over the next 27 years. A fifth installment in the film franchise has also been rumored.

Of the 10 highest-grossing films of all time, Lucas and Spielberg made seven of them (Raiders of the Ark comes in last place—think about that). While Lucas has made few returns to the director’s chair over the years, four of his Star Wars installments occupy spots on the list (with his 1977 original at number one). Spielberg has continued to define the summer movie landscape—as well as winter, spring and fall—in the decades since, with movies like E.T. and Jurassic Park (which hold the number two and nine spots, respectively).

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