Today’s Blockbusters, Tomorrow’s Classics

by Michelle Miles

A few weeks ago, my BFF and I were talking about movies. I had mentioned how I just purchased Ben Hur and The Quiet Man and that my next purchase would be El Cid and The Ten Commandments (okay, so I have a thing for Charlton Heston, I can’t help it…). Eventually the subject progressed to today’s movies becoming tomorrow’s classics.

She posed the question: What movies would be classics in ten years or so?

To answer this, though, we have to back up thirty-two years. Back in 1977, George Lucas released a little movie called Star Wars and it became an instant hit. And back then, movies stayed at the theater a really long time. Like a year. (I got a Star Wars storybook for Christmas in 1978. I only know this because my sister scribed the date inside when she gave it to me. And yes, I still have it, albeit it's a little tattered.)

I also remember sitting in the theater, watching the opening scroll across the screen and Sis whispering it in my ear. I was immediately in science fiction love. Major love. I had a thing for Luke (but quickly saw the error of my ways and knew Han was the bad boy of the universe and definitely the one for me. BFF says she’d like to be Vader’s GF, but then, that’s BFF).

I definitely say the Star Wars trilogy (the original – not the new one) has become a classic in its own right. At the time, they were groundbreaking and there was no other science fiction movie out like it. (I mean, hello, Flash Gordon (1980)? The only thing cool was the flying guys and even THAT was a stretch. So I don’t think so. Well, okay, maybe having Queen do the soundtrack helped...I still hear the "FLASH! AHHHAA" in my head and that's kinda creepy.) People devoured everything Star Wars. With the new version of Star Wars, I think some of that magic is lost. Yes, it’s spawned a whole new generation of kids (my son, for example) but it’s just not like back then. I miss those days of true movie magic.

But I digress, so back to the initial question.

The first thing I thought of was Pirates of the Caribbean (2003). Because it was so hugely popular and Jack Sparrow is such a quirky character, there’s a lot to love. Adventure, sea-faring pirates, sword duels, romance. It has it all. I’m not sure if the entire trilogy would become a classic, but definitely the first one.

And then Lord of the Rings (2001). I’d say the entire trilogy because it’s a seamless, continuing story. It helped that Viggo is yummy as Aragorn (a definite plus). Peter Jackson did the story justice with his retelling and it’s a fantastic movie to watch. Edge-of-your-seat drama (will Frodo make it to Mordor?), wizards both good and bad, talking trees, elves, dwarves and evil icky things that go bump in the night.

Other movies under consideration: Con Air (1997), Apollo 13 (1995), Forrest Gump (1994), (although, I’m not sure any of those are quite old enough for Classic Status), The Princess Bride (1987), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). You knew I had to get an Indy reference in there, didn’t you? And do you suppose it’s any coincidence movies that end up being classics have the same star in them? i.e., Harrison Ford, Charlton Heston, Katherine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Viggo Mortenson, Tom Hanks, Cary Grant,

For me, a classic movie is timeless. It’s a movie with wide appeal and characters you can love thirty years later. It’s a move that sweeps you off your feet and carries you away to a land unknown. (Hmm, kind of like a good book, too.)

What current blockbusters do you think will become classics? AND what movies from 20-30 years ago do you think have become movie classics today?

Michelle Miles writes speculative romance and sexy contemporaries and is a member of Romance Writers of America. You can learn more about her books at


  1. Hey Michelle!

    Girl, you have got some great taste in movies. I remember when Star Wars first hit the theaters, I was dating age back then. I remember I accepted every date offered just to get a chance to see it again---I think I made it 12 times all told :) And then we were blown away when Harrison Ford switched gears and became our beloved Indy. Ah, what great days those were....

    As for what will become classics, well who knows for sure? But I'd have to say The Lord of The Rings will be around in an ever popular way. And probably the Harry Potter's as well :)

    Great posting!

  2. Michelle, you picked the same classics I would have. And you're right about standing the test of time. Recently I watched some old movies from back when the world was black and white. Some were too dated to appeal to me, but others did stand up. I'm thinking of "Arsenic and Old Lace" and "Bringing Up Baby" as those which stood the test of time. Oh, loved Cary Grant. One you didn't mention was that seems a classic IMO was "To Kill A Mockingbird" with Gregory Peck. Also "The Wizard of Oz," which gave me nightmares as a child, and "Gone With The Wind." Now, I really think "Sleepless in Seattle" is a classic. When have you seen a romance in which the hero and heroine don't really meet until the last five minutes of the movie? I also hear people reference "French Kiss" ("You're French, aren't you?" and "You make my ass twitch") and "When Harry Met Sally" ("I'll have what she'd having")quite often. Does that make them classics?

  3. One movie that I wish more people had seen so that it would become a classic the The Muppets Frog Prince. It is witty and cute, and it appeals to kids and adults alike. Disney has no intention of releasing it on DVD (grr), but you can watch it on You Tube:

    Caroline, I'm with you on Arsenic and Old Lace. I was just telling hubby the other that they should remake it with George Clooney in the Cary Grant role. Also ITA with When Harry Met Sally. It is a nice story with themes that transcend Meg Ryan's various hairstyles.

  4. Hi Michelle. I love to talk movies, but have no real clue what makes a movie become a classic. For me, a child of the '80's and '90's, the movies that spoke to me and I've watched over and over are Out of Africa, The Way We Were, Butch and Sundace, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo's Fire, Pretty in Pink, A River Runs Through It, Con Air, Last of the Mohicans, Die Hard...

    Okay, I'm rambling. New movies that might one day be classics...Wall*E, Twilight, Juno.

  5. Definitely When Harry Met Sally. Walk the Line with Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix is a classic to me. Maybe a couple Sandra Bulluck films: Two Weeks Notice and Miss Congeniality. Practical Magic is great! I think people will want to watch that 25 years from now.

    What about The Thomas Crown Affair with Pierce Brosnan and Renee Russo? I love that show.

  6. Blockbuster Plots is my name. Plot for writers is my game.
    Wonderful post.
    For more on creating a blockbuster plot to improve your chances of becoming a classic, go to:

  7. Michelle, love the blog, and so many of your picks!

    I think Dirty Dancing should be a classic. What's Up, Doc?, too, but it was designed to be an updated 1930-40s madcap rom com.

    I'll still brake for anything Cary Grant, Doris Day and/or Jim Garner made!

    Nancy Haddock

  8. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by! You all have great movie picks and thought of some I'd forgotten about. Thanks for sharing! :)

  9. Oh I love your list! I would have added Casablanca! and the Harry Potter movies;) Ben Hur was on over Easter and my Dad said that they could never re-make that movie as good as the version directed by William Wyler (starring Charlton Heston). I agree - LOTR trilogy became an instant classic - not only because the story was so great (thanks to Tolkien) but the world that Peter Jackson created was amazing. Also - Princess Bride - I think I've seen that movie a gagillion times :D

  10. I think that what makes a classic can be two things, either can be our emotional experience we have during the film and if that is experienced and shared by the collective, and second when the film represents social and cultural points of view and again wether the collective agrees with what is experienced through the film. Of course it is important how this is represented, like what aesthetic the film is, ex. casablanca was a cross between film noir and classic hollywood structure, sin city was a film noir but personally that was the only thing interesting about it and lacked any real story. Sorry for a rant.

  11. Hey Michelle

    Not sure what exactly makes a classic, but the ones I find myself rewatching are When harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and Muriel's Wedding, starring Toni Collette. To me, it was 'the' story that brought on the chick-lit/chick-story revolution. Bridget Jones'Diary could become one too, in the sense that future generations may see what life was like for a singleton circa 2000.

    Definitely agree with LOTR. Not so sure about Harry Potter though. And, Pirates of The Carribean-The curse of the Black Pearl definitely ranks on see-again-and-again list.



  12. Great list!

    So many wonderful movies. Hmm... I think I'll add That Thing You Do! to future classics. Along with the 80's hit, Back to The Future.

    Arsenic and Old Lace. What a great movie! And of course, His Gal Friday. Talk about classic...

    Nice post!


  13. Instant classics for me:

    Lord of the Rings trilogy
    Harry Potter series
    Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2

    Films that have already become cult film classics (and are favorites of mine):

    Original Batman (Tim Burton)
    Edward Scissorhands
    Sin City

    Great post!

  14. Julia - I'd forgotten about the original Tim Burton version of Batman, so I'm with you on that. It's a great flick!

    Chrion - Back to the Future was so fun, wasn't it? I love how they tied all three of them together.

    Thanks, everyone, for stopping by! :)

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