Ranking the Best & Worst Independence Day Blockbusters

The Fourth of July is widely seen as a launching post for some of the biggest movies of the year, as school is out for most kids, adults are on vacation and firework bans means fewer people have the opportunity to blow shit up.

We took a look back at the last 20 years—from 1995 to the present—and ranked 30 of the biggest blockbusters (or blockbuster wannabes) that were released around the Fourth of July weekend. Due to the way the holiday affects release date configurations, it was a little tricky to decide which movies to include:

  • If the Fourth fell on a Monday or Tuesday, we included movies released the previous week
  • If the Fourth fell on a Wednesday or later, we only included movies released that same week

Because of these rules, some movies that were arguably released to take advantage of the Fourth of July weekend but were released a week early—with their own pre-Independence Day weekend—were excluded (which is why the second and fourth Transformers movies didn’t qualify).

Also excluded were limited release movies and other films that generally weren’t perceived to be anything other than counter programming at the time, with a couple rare exceptions.

30. The Lone Ranger (2013)

This misguided and racist blockbuster wannabe only had an impact where it counts: Disney’s bottom line.

29. Wild Wild West (1999)

Quite possibly Will Smith’s worst movie, this sci-fi stinker was a bomb of epic proportions.

28. Terminator: Genisys (2015)

Though some of the other movies on this list are arguably worse, this poorly made action flick falls so far short of the franchise’s potential it deserves to be kicked bloody.

27. Earth to Echo (2014)

This family sci-fi thriller wanted to be E.T., but instead was a poorly made found-footage disaster.

26. The Last Airbender (2010)

Night Shyamalan took a break from making bad original movies to make this adaptation of the popular cartoon, which features a nonsensical story and some of the worst casting decisions in the history of film.

25. Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde (2003)

The first Legally Blonde was a lot of fun. Its unnecessary sequel was exactly what you’d expect it to be: woefully unnecessary.

24. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)

The Ice Age films were never all that good (Scrat aside), but this sequel was especially dull.

23. Tammy (2014)

This awkward comedy-drama attempts to be funny while handing us an uber-depressing story about a sad, overweight woman and her alcoholic grandmother.

22. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

One good thing about the third Twilight movie: it actually has a semblance of a plot, a central villain and a certain degree of resolution. Then they made two more movies.

21. Judge Dredd (1995)

Critically reviled, this Stallone starrer had some OK action for its time. That time is long gone.

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By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Action Movies, Animated Movies, Comedies, Comic Book Movies, Crime Films, Drama Movies, Featured, Science Fiction Movies, Thriller Movies, Top 10 Movie Lists, Westerns

AROUND THE WEB

  • The Real George Bush

    Terminator 2 came on on Wed July 3 – does that not count? Because I would wedge that in right at #1.

  • This list looks only at movies released over the last 20 years (1995 and onward. Terminator 2 came out in 1991. That being said, yes, it would be at the top of this list.