The 11 defining features of the summer blockbuster

Right off the bat, we see that if you want to make a blockbuster movie, it’s a good idea to have a scene where one or more persons run or drive in pursuit of something, perhaps down a major thoroughfare of a city (which probably paid the producers to film there). Chases showed up in 36 percent of the films in our data set and in half of the films released since 2005. Maybe a car explodes, as one does in 20 percent of the films in our set. Indeed, explosions in general are critical — since 2010, 77 percent of blockbusters featured at least one explosion.

Of course, action movies aren’t all special effects and people chasing each other. At some point, one character catches up to another, and then you get the showdown. And what happens then? They throw down, that’s what. Fighting is an integral part of action movies, but the type of fighting varies.