High-profile films typically release in the fall, to better position themselves in the awards season conversation. The biggest blockbusters often come out in early summer, to help fill the needs of idle moviegoers willing to kill time with fights, chases and huge explosions. Between these two lucrative periods of the film calendar lies a dead zone perhaps even more barren than the freezing wasteland of January: the last two weeks of August. Historically speaking, Hollywood treats this string of dates as a dumping ground for projects that are neither likely hits nor potential awards contenders. They’re the forgotten, the unwanted, the fillers released indiscriminately in theaters nationwide with the near certainty that America will choose one last gasp of the beach over whatever they offer.
And yet, every once in a while, a truly terrific studio flick pops up during this box office poisonous period, continuing to earn classic status. What follows are 13 major Hollywood films released after 1975, all of which opened in theaters just before Labor Day in their respective years, bringing unexpected quality to the late summer dump.