Most memorable film themesby TomConnors | created - 26 May 2011 | updated - 27 Apr 2013 | Public
There are tons and tons of movies that have great music, but every once in a while there area few that just stick out more, and are easily identified after hearing only a few notes. John Williams dominates the list, but there are so many greats as well by Danny Elfman, Jerry Goldsmith, and more... Here's a few of the best...
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1. Jaws (1975)
PG | 124 min | Adventure, Drama, Thriller
A local sheriff, a marine biologist and an old seafarer team up to hunt down a great white shark wrecking havoc in a beach resort.
Votes: 464,621 | Gross: $260.00M
All it takes as those low key bump-bump....bump-bump-bump.... and you know exactly what you're hearing. Probably used more times in OTHER movies than any other film theme. Even the parodies of the song are too close to confuse it with anything else. John Williams signature theme became a character, a voice, it was the shark.
2. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
PG | 121 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Luke Skywalker joins forces with a Jedi Knight, a cocky pilot, a Wookiee and two droids to save the galaxy from the Empire's world-destroying battle-station while also attempting to rescue Princess Leia from the evil Darth Vader.
Votes: 1,027,914 | Gross: $322.74M
Probably one of the most recognizable theme song in History next to Jaws. George Lucas' space-saga needed a beefy big score, otherwise the old-school space-serial type film that he had made probably would have half fell on it's face without John Williams booming score setting the stage for the biggest adventure of all time. Lucas had originally planned on using existing classical music, and tracks from 2001: A Space Odyssey, thank god he changed his mind.
3. Superman (1978)
PG | 143 min | Action, Adventure, Drama
An alien orphan is sent from his dying planet to Earth, where he grows up to become his adoptive home's first and greatest superhero.
Votes: 138,138 | Gross: $134.22M
Once again John Williams hits one out of the park, as he proves to be the MVP of film scores over and over again. Williams' theme for the Man of Steel, Superman for his film debut in 1978 is still associated with the last son of Krypton, to this day. All the stars lined up for this movie, like most of them on the top spot, but you can't help to think that the extremely appropriately identifiable theme songs helped them feel so big and important.
4. Rocky (1976)
PG | 120 min | Drama, Sport
Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.
Votes: 427,359 | Gross: $117.24M
Sport movies would never be the same after Rocky. The formula worked to a T here, as it did continuously through most of it's sequels, here the music is so important to Rocky's world. Bill Conti's theme sticks with you because of the emotions it makes you feel every time you hear it. Every time your running fast somewhere, working out, or anything remotely close, you hear it in your head and start to hum it to yourself, for some reason it charges you, gives you that extra boost, hell it worked for Rocky right? Go for it!
5. Halloween (1978)
R | 91 min | Horror, Thriller
Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield to kill again.
Votes: 177,526 | Gross: $47.00M
John Carpenter's striking and chilling score to his signature film is just spot on and perfect, still the scariest film theme ever. Much like Tubular Bells in The Exorcist, the music sends chills down your spine as the piano plays those high keys, as an electronic hum builds like two different songs that finally collide just like the inevitable strike of serial killer Michael Myers as he wields his butcher knife.
6. Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
R | 105 min | Action, Comedy, Crime
A freewheeling Detroit cop pursuing a murder investigation finds himself dealing with the very different culture of Beverly Hills.
Votes: 138,717 | Gross: $234.76M
7. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
PG | 138 min | Drama, Sci-Fi
After an accidental encounter with otherworldly vessels, an ordinary man follows a series of psychic clues to the first scheduled meeting between representatives of Earth and visitors from the cosmos.
Votes: 155,218 | Gross: $132.09M
8. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
PG | 115 min | Action, Adventure
Archaeologist and adventurer Indiana Jones is hired by the U.S. government to find the Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis.
Votes: 737,783 | Gross: $248.16M
9. Beetlejuice (1988)
PG | 92 min | Comedy, Fantasy
When a recently-deceased ghost couple find their now-vacant home invaded by an obnoxious family, they hire a sleazy ghost who gets rid of humans to help them.
Votes: 211,821 | Gross: $73.71M
10. Batman (1989)
PG-13 | 126 min | Action, Adventure
The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker.
Votes: 293,472 | Gross: $251.19M
I remember hearing an interview with Danny Elfman where he said that he had come up with the melody for Tim Burton's Batman theme while in the bathroom aboard an airplane. He said something to the effect of how the engines for the plane helped him sonically envision the batmobile's booster blasting as the horns trumpeted the Dark Knight's signature tune. I'd like to believe it's true, either way, the theme erased the hokey version from the 60's TV show. Like John Williams and Steven Spielberg, Danny Elfman and Tim Burton still have a symbiotic relationship for their films still going strong.
11. Gremlins (1984)
PG | 106 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror
A boy inadvertently breaks three important rules concerning his new pet and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.
Votes: 162,242 | Gross: $148.17M
PG | 124 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
After the rebels are overpowered by the Empire on the ice planet Hoth, Luke Skywalker begins Jedi training with Yoda. His friends accept shelter from a questionable ally as Darth Vader hunts them in a plan to capture Luke.
Votes: 955,484 | Gross: $290.48M
13. The Pink Panther (1963)
Not Rated | 115 min | Comedy, Crime, Romance
Inspector Clouseau travels to Rome to catch a notorious jewel thief known as "The Phantom" before he conducts his most daring heist yet--a princess' priceless diamond with one slight imperfection, known as "The Pink Panther."
Votes: 41,617 | Gross: $10.88M
14. Psycho (1960)
R | 109 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A Phoenix secretary embezzles $40,000 from her employer's client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.
Votes: 479,808 | Gross: $32.00M
15. Friday the 13th (1980)
R | 95 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller
A group of camp counselors are stalked and murdered by an unknown assailant while trying to reopen a summer camp which, years before, was the site of a child's drowning.
Votes: 94,962 | Gross: $39.75M
16. Back to the Future (1985)
PG | 116 min | Adventure, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Marty McFly, a 17-year-old high school student, is accidentally sent thirty years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean invented by his close friend, the maverick scientist Doc Brown.
Votes: 835,999 | Gross: $210.61M
19. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
R | 91 min | Horror
Several people are hunted by a cruel serial killer who kills his victims in their dreams. While the survivors are trying to find the reason for being chosen, the murderer won't lose any chance to kill them as soon as they fall asleep.
Votes: 168,826 | Gross: $25.50M
20. Star Trek (2009)
PG-13 | 127 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
The brash James T. Kirk tries to live up to his father's legacy with Mr. Spock keeping him in check as a vengeful Romulan from the future creates black holes to destroy the Federation one planet at a time.
Votes: 537,680 | Gross: $257.73M
21. The Social Network (2010)
PG-13 | 120 min | Biography, Drama
Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, but is later sued by two brothers who claimed he stole their idea, and the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.
Votes: 530,942 | Gross: $96.96M
22. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999)
PG | 136 min | Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Two Jedi Knights escape a hostile blockade to find allies and come across a young boy who may bring balance to the Force, but the long dormant Sith resurface to claim their old glory.
Votes: 604,162 | Gross: $474.54M
23. The Terminator (1984)
R | 107 min | Action, Sci-Fi
A seemingly indestructible humanoid cyborg is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a waitress, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines, while a soldier from that war is sent to protect her at all costs.
Votes: 669,554 | Gross: $38.40M
PG-13 | 178 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
A meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle-earth from the Dark Lord Sauron.
Votes: 1,378,226 | Gross: $315.54M
25. Jurassic Park (1993)
PG-13 | 127 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.
Votes: 701,010 | Gross: $402.45M