What kind of film is a blockbuster?

A commercially successful film

A blockbuster is a common term that film critics, enthusiasts, and moviegoers use to describe popular movies that make a lot of money (often matching their large budgets). People may also use it to refer to other highly-successful works of art, such as a book, play, or video game.

While blockbusters must be financially successful, they don't have to be actually good (well-reviewed by critics). Many poorly-reviewed films have become blockbusters, and many well-reviewed movies have not. Some examples of good and not-so-good blockbuster movies include Avatar, Jaws, Titanic, The Lion King, The Dark Knight, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and almost any MCU or SW movie.

Origin of blockbuster

The slang term "blockbuster" originated from the blockbuster bombs used during World War II, which were powerful enough to bust up a city block. Theater buffs began using the term in the mid-1940s as slang to describe movies that busted up the box office by selling many tickets. The term grew in popularity mainstream in the 1970s and has embedded itself in the public lexicon. The term also inspired the once-successful but now-defunct "Blockbuster" movie and game rental chain.

Alternative meaning

People may also describe things unrelated to movies, video games, books, etc., that are significant in scope and noteworthy. For example, a trade that involves several big-time players in the NFL may be a "blockbuster trade." Or, politicians may make a "blockbuster deal" to avoid hitting the national debt ceiling.


I can't believe Paranormal Activity became the blockbuster that it was
I can. People love the found-footage movies. Look at the success of The Blair Witch Project

Related Slang


Updated May 23, 2023

Blockbuster definition by

This page explains what the slang term "Blockbuster" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the team.

We are constantly updating our database with new slang terms, acronyms, and abbreviations. If you would like to suggest a term or an update to an existing one, please let us know!