The big budget movies during the summer. You know the ones.
The summer blockbuster is generally categorized by: being heavily advertised well over a year before its premiere, an immense budget by whatever major film studio is producing it, often-times a well-known cast of actors or production crew (with some degree of variance), the prevalence of sequels (Star Wars in particular started the oft-bemoaned tradition of standing in line dressed like someone who hasn't been laid in 10 years, also known as a Wookiee), and an overall emphasis on BIG. Big Budget, Big Stars, Big Effects, and (so the studio prays) Big Profits.
The modern summer blockbuster began primarily with three movies: Jaws, Star Wars, and Raiders of the Lost Ark (the Trope Maker, Namer, and Codifier, respectively) and continued on from there, opening up space for films that previously would have been considered too risky or expensive to make: the first Terminator movie, Back to The Future, ET the Extraterrestrial, and so on. Because the good ones do, in fact, yield Big Bucks, people continue to make them today.
Summer blockbusters are often at odds with critics because as a general rule they emphasize flash over substance. In fact, many critics have an extreme bias against movies of the type for generally no reason other than their existence. Consider Transformers (not the animated one, oddly) which actually received more positive reviews than negative reviews—a fact often ignored by those who insisted that poor critical reception against the sequel was due to an anti-Transformers bias on the part of critics.
See also Epic Movie, which is different that this because epics are often sprawling dramas as opposed to action and fantasy films. Compare and contrast B-Movie, Dump Months, Le Film Artistique, Oscar Bait. Not to be confused with The Mockbuster, no matter how hard studios like The Asylum try. This type of film came of age mainly during (of course) the Blockbuster Age of Hollywood.
- Actionized Sequel
- Bullet Time
- Dirt Forcefield
- Outrun the Fireball
- Special Effects (can range from Visual Effects of Awesome to Special Effect Failure)
- "Stop Having Fun!" Guys: The reaction of many movie critics and purists towards people who enjoy the movie.
- Stuff Blowing Up