What Were the Most Popular Movies of the 1970s?

There were so many movies that have been released in the 1970s, but only a few of them have truly stood the test of time and become a timeless classic. To know more, here is a list of the most popular movies of the 1970s that you can still enjoy watching today.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a musical fantasy film that was originally released in 1971. The movie was directed by Mel Stuart (previously known as the director of a romantic comedy film titled “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium) and starred Gene Wilder as the titular character. The film served as an adaptation of a popular novel titled “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” written by Roald Dahl and published in 1964.

The movie follows the story of a child named Charlie Bucket, who got the opportunity to go on a tour inside Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory after finding a Golden Ticket that was hidden inside a few chocolate bars. The film was released on June 30, 1971, and although it had positive reviews, it was not received well at the box office since it only earned about $4 million by the end of its run against a $3 million budget. Eventually, the movie became a cult classic and gained more popularity over the years.

Jaws (1975)

The movie that started the shark thriller craze that stretched from the 1970s up to the 2000s was Jaws, a film directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg and was released in 1975. What some people don’t know is that the story of Jaws is based on the 1974 novel of the same name that was written by American author Peter Benchley. The movie focuses on three men who are trying to hunt down a man-eating great white shark that attacks people at a summer resort town.

Jaws was regarded as the first major film that was shot primarily on the ocean. Because of how harsh the ocean was, production for Jaws had several issues, so Spielberg would often have to go over the budget and over the shooting schedule just to finish the film. The hardships that the cast and crew experienced during the filming of Jaws were worth it, as the film became one of the highest-grossing films of all time. If you are a massive fan of Jaws, then you would need to show it by having a poster of the movie in your bedroom or other areas in your home. To know more about Jaws movie posters and other home décor items from the 70s, you can take a look at our Nostalgic 70s Home Décor Ideas.

Rocky (1976)

Rocky is a sports drama film that premiered in 1976 and was directed by John G, Avildsen, who won the Academy Award for Best Director for the same movie. Sylvester Stallone, who plays the titular character Rocky, is also the film’s writer. Rocky tells the story of the titular character who got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change his life by simply fighting a heavyweight champion boxer named Apollo Creed in the boxing ring.

The movie premiered on December 3, 1976, in the United States and became the highest-grossing film of the said year. At the 1977 Academy Awards, Rocky was nominated ten times and won three awards, including Best Picture. Because of how influential it was in the history of cinema, Rocky is considered one of the greatest films of all time.

Star Wars (1977)

Another iconic film of the 1970s was Star Wars, the first movie of the franchise of the same name that premiered in 1977. The first Star Wars film was directed by George Lucas and produced by his company Lucasfilm. The story of the movie follows Luke Skywalker, who helps the Rebel Alliance fight against the evil Galactic Empire while also meeting loyal friends along the way.

The film was released on May 25, 1977, and it instantly became a blockbuster hit while also being received well by critics for its acting, story, direction, editing, screenplay, and sound. Star Wars would become the second-highest-grossing film in North America as of 2023, and it is also considered one of the greatest and most influential movies in history. Check out our Nostalgic 70s Gift Ideas if you are planning on getting a Star Wars movie poster for yourself or for a loved one.

The popularity of Star Wars also enabled it to have a best-selling line of action figures that were manufactured by Kenner Products in the late 1970s and early 1980s. To know more about the Kenner Star Wars action figures, you can go read about The Most Nostalgic “As Seen on TV” Toys of the 1970s.

Superman (1978)

Superman is a superhero film that is based on a character of the same name by DC Comics, one of the biggest comic book companies in the world. The Superman film, which was often marketed as “Superman: The Movie,” was released in 1978 and was directed by Richard Donner, who was previously known for directing the classic horror film The Omen released in 1976. The Superman movie focuses on the origins of Superman/Clark Kent (played by Christopher Reeve) as he struggles from balancing his life as a superhero and a news reporter.

Up until the end of 1978, the Superman movie was considered the most expensive film ever made, as it had a budget of $55 million, which was considered a lot of money for a Hollywood movie during that time. Fortunately, the movie was a critical and commercial success, as it was able to get $300.5 million at the box office.

Halloween (1978)

A very influential horror film was released in 1978, and this film was called Halloween, which was actually an independent movie that was directed by John Carpenter, who would later direct another classic horror film titled “The Thing” (1982). The movie starred Jamie Lee Curtis (in her movie debut) as Laurie Strode, a babysitter who was stalked by mental patient and serial killer Michael Myers along with her friends.

Because Halloween was an independent film, it only had a budget of about $300,000 to $325,000. But it was able to gross more than $7 million at the box office, making it one of the most profitable independent movies of all time. Besides being successful commercially, Halloween is also considered one of the most influential movies of all time and served as an inspiration for serial killer-focused horror movies.

And those are just some of the most popular movies of the 1970s. If you haven’t watched any of these movies yet, it would be great if you can organize a 1970s movie marathon with friends or family members so that you can enjoy watching the mentioned movies with your loved ones.