Film has been around for over one hundred and forty years. It began with the first movie ever made in 1988 – albeit one that lasted about 2 seconds – and the first feature-length film in 1906. Of course, cinema has changed dramatically since then. We’ve moved from films and soundtracks being played on separate devices to lifelike CGI films and franchises that last a decade. Here are our top 7 picks of movies that forever changed the film industry.

Jaws (1975)
Jaws proved to be the film that catapulted director Steven Spielberg into the spotlight as a household name. It wasn’t just about the gut-wrenching thrill of hunting and being hunted by a huge shark, of course. Jaws changed the game by becoming the first blockbuster movie.

Prior to Jaws, every movie was released at only a handful of theaters. If it were a success in the local area, it would be requested by additional theaters and have a slow disbursement throughout regions of the country. However, the producers of Jaws advertised their movie with 30-second trailers across multiple channels. Then, they released the film simultaneously across the US, allowing hundreds of thousands of people to see it at once. That release format has remained the standard ever since.

Toy Story (1995)
Although there were plenty of animated movies gear toward children, Toy Story broke the technological mold as the first high quality fully CGI movie. Afterward, filmmakers worldwide scrambled to integrate CG production into every film they could.

Although it was certainly ingenious, Toy Story also contributed to the death of hand-drawn animation. Whether that should be considered a good thing or a sad loss is a decision we’ll leave up to you. It also contributed to a shift away from princess-themed movies for kids in general, leading to more diverse storylines and the growth of Pixar Studios.

Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner is one movie that didn’t challenge the technology of the time, but rather the stories that were told and popularized. Though Star Wars was gaining notoriety, much of the general public was still largely uninterested in science fiction film production.

That changed dramatically with the release of Blade Runner. Set in the futuristic world of 2019, this film depicted a dystopian world. Earthlings were distributed among colonies and the plot revolved around nitty-gritty action. There’s no doubt this was one of the major stepping stones toward widespread acclaim for the more cerebral science fiction genre.

The Breakfast Club (1985)
Oh, the drama of high school. The Breakfast Club is a quintessential coming-of-age film that changed the way stories about kids and teenagers were viewed. It was rare for movies to focus on teens before the release of The Breakfast Club. It was even more rare to depict high schoolers – especially teenage girls – in a way that depicted their depth.

John Hughes broke the mold by casting Molly Ringwald as an average high school student. Not only was she likeable, she was relatable and awkward. She was accompanied by a cast of varied characters who all embodied – and subsequently broke – their stereotypes. Coming-of-age themes are now immensely popular across most genres.

Harry Potter (2001 – 2011)
Any list of groundbreaking movies would be incomplete without including the Harry Potter franchise. Even if you don’t know your Hogwarts house, you’ve at least heard of Harry Potter. You probably know the vague plot, and we’d guess you’re aware that there are multiple books, movies, and a whole section of Orlando Studios dedicated to the world’s favorite wizard.

This was the first time that millions were invested into a children’s story and billions were reaped in profit. In fact, it was one of the first fantasy novel series to be booked into a movie series as well. Afterward, movies like The Hunger Games, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Twilight followed the idea of a multi-film adaptation. It also set the precedent for 2-part endings, which changed the film and entertainment industries forever.

Star Wars (1977 – 2019)
George Lucas directed the first Star Wars film in the 1970s, but even 20th Century Fox didn’t have much faith in his production. They actually elected to allow him an unprecedented ownership of merchandise profits because they were thoroughly convinced it would flop. After 9 Star Wars movies – not to mention shows, books, and spin-offs, it’s safe to say that Lucas knew what he was doing.

The first film kickstarted a franchise that was the light for others to follow. It had a staying power that other franchises haven’t had, considering Star Wars movies are still being released after more than 30 years.

The Avengers (2012)
The Avengers is a quintessential superhero film set in the Marvel Universe. There had been quite a few movies involving characters of the same cast before its release – five, to be exact. Audiences met Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America individually as a build-up to the team coming together. The Avengers changed everything when it finally meshed all the big-name superheroes in Marvel Comics. Nobody thought you could have so many lead characters in one movie and still have a decent plot.

At this point, the ball just keeps rolling. There are an astounding 23 movies that all feed into the same storyline surrounding The Avengers, and it’s not done. This movie was remarkable for the way it combined such a huge cast of characters to tell a singular story.

What will the next groundbreaking film be?
It’s hard to know what lies ahead for the movie industry. No one ever saw the changes brought about by the films listed above. In fact, many of the titles we listed were seriously criticized ahead of their release. No one thought Star Wars would ever lead to a sequel, and people scoffed at the idea of a movie about a teenage girl and her friends in detention. It just goes to show that innovation comes when we least expect it.