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1980s in film: Map


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The decade of the 1980s in film involved many significant films.


1 Events

2 Top Grossing Films

3 Trends

4 List of films: # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z.


The 1980s saw the continued rise of the blockbuster, an increased amount of nudity in film and the increasing emphasis in the American industry on film franchises, especially in the science fiction, horror, and action genres. Much of the reliance on these effect-driven blockbusters was due in part to the Star Wars films at the advent of this decade and the new cinematic effects it helped to pioneer.

The teen comedy sub-genre saw its popularity rise during this decade.

The PG-13 rating was introduced in 1984, to accommodate movies that straddled the line between PG and R.

Top grossing films

The following are the 10 top-grossing films of the decade:

  1. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), $435 million
  2. Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983), $309 million
  3. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), $290 million
  4. Batman (1989), $251 million
  5. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), $245 million
  6. Ghostbusters (1984), $238 million
  7. Beverly Hills Cop (1984), $234 million
  8. Back to the Future (1985), $210 million
  9. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), $197 million
  10. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), $179 million

In the list, where revenues are equal numbers, the newer films are listed lower, due to inflation making the dollar-amount lower compared to earlier years.


The films of the 1980s covered many genres, with hybrids crossing between multiple genres. The trend strengthened towards creating ever-larger blockbuster films, which earned more in their opening weeks than any previous film, due in part to staging releases when audiences had little else to choose.

  • blockbusters - The decade started by continuing the blockbuster boom of the mid-'70s. The sequel to 1977's Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back opened in May of 1980 becoming the highest-grossing film of the year. The film is considered among the best of films of the decade (it being the highest rated '80s film on IMDb). It was followed by Return of the Jedi (1983) finishing the trio. It perfectly set the euphoric fanastical tone of many of the similar films to come. Superman II was released in Europe and Australia in late 1980 but not distributed in the United States until June 1981. Though now seen as campier over the original 1978 Superman, Superman II was received with a positive reaction. From the success of The Empire Strikes Back, creator George Lucas teamed up with director Steven Spielberg to create one of the most iconic characters in the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark starring Harrison Ford, who had also co-starred in The Empire Strikes Back. The story about an archaeologist and adventurer, Indiana Jones (Ford), hired by the U.S. government to go on a quest for the mystical lost Ark of the Covenant, created waves of interest in old 1930s style cliffhanger serials. It became the highest grossing film of 1981, leading to sequels all in the top-10 films of the decade. In 1982, Spielberg directed his family, fairy-tale science-fiction blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which shattered all records, earning 40% more than any Star-Wars film, and double or triple the renevue of 46 of the top 50 films.

  • westerns - A stylish form of western was evolving, with films such as Silverado (1985).

  • James Bond - The James Bond film series entered its third decade in 1981 with Roger Moore starring in the more realistic For Your Eyes Only after the outlandish excess of Moonraker in 1979. The decade saw the beginning of a new era for Bond since the previous decade's directors originally directed a 1960s Bond, the new director brought to the series, John Glen, criticized for a less stylistic and more "workman" style of direction, directed all the EON Bond films from 1981 to 1989. Moonraker was the last for regular Bernard Lee who portrayed Bond's boss M. For the eighties Bonds, a collection of numerous MI6marker superiors would brief Bond on his missions. 1983 was a significant year for the series as a non-EON Bond was released, Never Say Never Again, directed by The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner with Sean Connery returning to the role for the last time since 1971's Diamonds are Forever; it was competing with the next EON film Octopussy at the box-office with media dubbing the situation 'The Battle of the Bonds'. Even lesser known in the same year was one-time Bond George Lazenby appearing in the TV-reunion movie The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. as a Bond-like character "JB". A View to a Kill (1985) was the last for Roger Moore before Timothy Dalton was chosen as the new Bond in 1987's The Living Daylights and lastly in 1989's Licence to Kill.

List of films



























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