Summer Glau was born in 1981, so in that respect, no.
If time is a construct introduced by humans because they don’t have the ability to see the totality of action in an absolute universal sense, then yes. Everything has always been and will always be, including summer movies.
In the more limited sense of U.S. cinema, my thoughts before turning to Google:
Before television, movies were produced and released in a constant flow. There were seasonal inflections caused by the advent of holidays such as Christmas. Whether release considerations went beyond that, I don’t know. But I doubt it.
With television came the concept of TV summer reruns. It may be that the studios regarded this fallow TV period as a time to introduce especially attractive movies. No data in my memory bank on this.
Also, in the late 50s and early 60s, the first baby-boomers entered their teen years. Hence, movies like Where the Boys are (1960) and the Funicello/Avalon beach-blanket movies, such as Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), were made. Perhaps these youth-targeted movies were introduced in the summer months. Could be wrong.
The summer movies that I’m considering here are seasonal offerings aimed at a youthish demo. Summer blockbusters are a whole different animal, from both marketing and genre perspectives, targeted even more tightly at the teen demo, with, also, the world market in mind. Summer blockbusters were invented with Jaws in 1975.
Finally, off the subject, I’m thinking of adults who are recently out of school and in the workforce and who now no longer have a clear concept of “summer,” as their year blends together for them with a vacation or two thrown in at arbitrary times – as opposed to youth free from school for several hopefully halcyon months. For such adults, if there were summer movies, perhaps now there aren’t, at least until kids of their own come along.
Turning to Google:
So much for my thoughts above. “Where the Boys Are” is a classic movie about summer, but its release date was three days after Christmas. “Beach Blanket Bingo” was released in April. So movies about summer and movies released in summer are two different things. Wet Hot American Summer (2001) came out in the summer. Random? Endless Summer (1966) was released in August in Japan. Ok. I know nothing about the relationship between “release” and “opening,” or why a movie would be released first in Japan. You can explain all this to me in a comment or guest post. Or not.
Now I’m thinking that there is no special seasonal-release category for summer movies (movies released in the summer), only for “summer blockbusters.”
There have not always been summer blockbusters. “Jaws” represents a change in Hollywood’s business model. Gone with the Wind (1939) was released in January. Ben Hur (1959) in December. Old-fashioned blockbusters.
So, bottom line, there have not always been movies about summer that were released specifically in summer; but there have always been movies about summer – a summer-movie genre. Let me see if I can turn up some titles from the 30s and 40s. Blondie Takes a Vacation (1939). Summer Bachelors (1926). Say, here’s a summer-camp movie rated 8.9 in IMBD: Thrill of a Lifetime (1937), with Ben Blue, Judy Canova, and Betty Grable. Uh oh. Frank Nugent in the NYT: “You have, in point of accuracy, an insipid concoction of sour japes and flat romantics which Fanchon (of Fanchon & Marco) has strung together like one of her old stage shows at the Roxy.” Oh, well. Would movies about county fairs count?
Who could have guessed, back in the day, that the drive-in would go away. Sitting out under the stars on the benches in front of the concession stand, we automatically classified whatever we were watching as a summer movie.
Which brings me to a treasure trove of summer-movie lore: the page that is displayed when you Google “summer movie memories.” For example, seven New Yorker essays on the subject. Based upon this veritable landslide of summer-movie nostalgia, to mix my metaphors, there have always been summer movies.