30 Years of Memorial Day Blockbusters, Ranked

So, how’s your Memorial Day? Did you go out to the moving pictures? Chances are pretty good that you did — Memorial Day is one of the biggest movie-going weekends of the year, the Monday holiday adding another opportunity to hit the multiplex. And though it’s no longer the official kickoff for the summer movie season (a decade or so of Marvel movies have moved that milestone to the first weekend of May), it’s still a date that is earmarked, sometimes years in advance, by studios with blockbuster dollars in their eyes. That’s not to say that they usually open good blockbusters then; in fact, when your film editor took a look at the biggest Memorial Day moneymakers since Return of the Jedi back in ’83, it’s quite the race to the bottom. Here’s our ranking of them, from worst to best.


31. The Hangover Part II (2011)

It’s not so much that it’s offensive, unfunny, overlong, and unaccountably nihilistic — though it’s all those things. It’s that director Todd Phillips and his otherwise-agreeable cast rushed out (less than two years after the surprise success of the original) such a crass, beat-by-beat Xerox of the original film; it’s less a sequel to The Hangover than a remake, and a poor one at that.

30. Pearl Harbor (2001)

Hey, remember when Michael Bay decided to be a Real Filmmaker? Good times.

29. Sex and the City 2 (2010)

At long last, the Sex and the City folks gave us a motion picture that played into all of the worst criticisms of the original television show. Even the fans hated this one!

28. X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

When Bryan Singer got the chance to restart the Superman franchise, he turned the keys to his beloved X-Men over to… Brett Ratner, the unaccountably successful director of the Rush Hour movies. Who’da thunk he’d turn out an unwatchable train wreck that all but reverses the subtext of Singer’s originals?

27. Godzilla (1998)

In which Independence Day creators Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin somehow did the impossible: they made a giant, city-crushing monster utterly forgettable.

26. The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Emmerich and Devlin strike again! It’s not quite as bad as Godzilla. That’s about the nicest thing that can be said about it.

25. Cobra (1986)

Sylvester Stallone attempted to create another five-letter franchise hero with this oh-so-‘80s tale of a super-cop tracking a killer. And he was wildly successful, as any fan of Cobra II, Cobra III, and Cobra — Ghost Protocol can tell you.

24. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)

Anyone else totally forget that they made another one of these?