The Top 10 Biggest Fourth of July Blockbusters of All Time

Jacob Harper  |

For the movie industry, July 4 is time to roll out the big guns. It makes sense. Kids are out of school, a large chunk of the populace is off work, and it’s well enough into the summer that maybe it’s time to sit in a dark, air conditioned room for two and a half hours.

July 4 is when the studios really make their big plays. This year, the big Indepedence Day movie rolling out is the Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum vehicle White House Down. With those two stars holding it up, coupled with a patriotic premise, it’s sure to rake in some ungodly numbers. But how will it fare compared to the blockbusters of yore?

We thought we’d look at the biggest past winners on this historically robust movie-going time, and also check in to see how those studios made out. We decided to look at the top 10 grossing July 4 releases – and in case anyone is curious, #11 was the aptly named Independence Day.

All numbers courtesy of Box Office Mojo:

10. Men in Black/9. Men in Black II

Studio: Sony Corporation (SNE)

Opening Week Gross: $51.06 million (MiB); $52. 14 million (MiB II)

These Tommy Lee Jones Will Smith vehicles were the big winners of 1997 and 2002, respectively. The franchise has always been a huge boon for Sony. The first two films garnered $1.03 billion in box office sales, and the release of the third installment of the sci-fi franchise in 2012 also injected much needed cash into the entertainment corporation.

Sony currently sits at $21.50 a share, up 91.96 percent on the year.




8. Superman Returns

Studio: Warner Brothers, subsidiary of Time Warner Inc (TWX)

Opening Week Gross: $52.53 million

Though savaged by the critics, this reboot of the Superman franchise still raked in $52.53 million over the July 4 holiday in 2006. Along with Batman in 2005's Batman Begins, Superman Returns helped re-assert the DC Comics in a film marketplace led that decade by Marvel and their X-Men franchise.

Time Warner sits at $59.57 a share, and is up 24.48 percent on the year. Their stock recently got a bump with the release of the Superman origin story, Man of Steel.


7. The Amazing Spider-Man

Studio: Sony

Opening Week Gross: $62 million

The first Spiderman film utilizing Andrew Garfield as the titular character (in place of Tobey Maguire) was another big July 4 success for Sony. By the end of its run the 2012 remake had brought in $752 million worldwide.

The movie’s healthy box office take couldn’t save Sony’s stock plunge, as 2012 saw them downgraded to near junk status by Moody’s on account of the proliferation of camera phones edging in on their imaging business. Their stock wouldn’t begin its recovery till January 2013.


6. Hancock

Studio: Sony

Opening Week Gross: $62.6 million

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The movie mighty have been a dud with critics, but never underestimate the ability for Will Smith to draw a crowd. Well, unless you’re talking about his latest movie, the absolute flop After Earth.

Hancock, about an alcoholic anti-superhero, led the pack on the 2008 July 4 week. Almost immediately following the release of Hancock Sony’s stock began a dip that lasted until a low in March 2009 of $16.56 a share - although that is almost certainly a result of the simultaneous meltdown of the global financial markets.


5. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Studio: Summit Entertainment, a subsidiary of Lions Gate Films (LGF)

Opening Week Gross: $64.83 million

The first non sci-fi/comic book entry into the list, the love traingle of Edward, Bella and Jacob brought in big numbers from the franchise’s rabid tween demo. Eclipse was the third installment in the Twilight franchise, and like its predecessors proved to be another reliable hit for Summit.

Parent company Lions Gate’s stock has been steadily rising since 2010, and currently sits at $30.47 a share, and is up a robust 85.79 percent on the year.


4. War of the Worlds

Studio: Paramount, subsidary of Viacom (VIAB)

Opening Week Gross: $64.87 million

The sci-fi disaster film marks Paramount’s first entry on the big blockbuster list. A remake of the HG Wells classic, this Tom Cruise popcorn flick ended up taking in $704 total worldwide by the end of its fantastic 2005 run.

Viacom’s stock is at $68.68, up 30.22 percent on the year.


3. Transformers

Studio: Paramount/Dreamworks Animation SKG (DWA)

Opening Week Gross: $70.5 million

The first in the Michael Bay helmed super smash series, Transformers took an old toy line and turned it into one of the most profitable franchises ever. Made on a staggering (at the time ) $150 million dollar budget, Transformers eventually raked in $709 million worldwide for quite a healthy profit.

Paramount distributes the Transformers movies in conjunction with Dreamworks. Dreamworks’ stock is at $26.10 a share, up 57.15 percent on the year.


2. Spider-Man 2

Studio: Sony

Opening Week Gross: $88.15 million 

The (obviously) second installment in the Tobey Maguire era of Spiderman, Spider-Man 2 has been Sony’s biggest July 4 success story to date. The movie firmly established Spiderman in the superhero blockbuster pantheon, and also helped solidify the career of co-star James Franco.


1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Studio: Paramount/Dreamworks

Opening Week Gross: 97.85 million

The biggest success on July 4 so far, the third movie in the Transformers franchise brought in eye-popping numbers, taking in $1.12 billion worldwide in 2011. Unsurprsignly, the monster numbers triggered a greenlight for a fourth installment in the series.

Dreamworks' stock repsonded well to numbers, ticking up around 10 percent that month. The end of the year saw them take a hit though with the release of flop Rise of the Guardians.


DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:

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