There are a number of reasons why a movie can flop upon its initial release, maybe the critics took the movie apart and cause viewers to steer clear of the film, maybe the release of the film was on the same week as a catastrophic event, but I think the main reason a movie does poorly in theaters is when it is up against other big-name movies. A lot of times audience members will buy a ticket for the movie they have heard the most about instead of taking a chance on a lesser-known film. The thing that most studios do not account for however is what happens after the film leaves the theater. There are many times when a movie may not do well in the theaters but finds its true home on the shelves of film lovers everywhere. This is a list of 5 times that is the case, 5 times a movie bombed in the box office, but became a classic anyway.
It’s a Wonderful Life
It’s a Wonderful life was released in 1946 and is considered to be the go-to Christmas movie in most homes. One would think that this movie has always been a staple around the holiday season, but they would be wrong. When this movie was released in 1946 it was met with mixed reviews and made so little money it actually bankrupted director Frank Capra’s company. This was just after the second world war so some feel that the timing just wasn’t right for a movie with this much emotion. After a few years of copyright issues, the film finally found its success but not until the 1980s and most likely this was due to the film being showed on television so much.
A Christmas Story
Keeping with the Christmas theme, A Christmas Story was released a week before Thanksgiving in 1983. Upon its release it was met with moderate success most likely due to the fact that holiday movies were just not that popular at the time, at least according to Roger Ebert. The New York Times gave it a negative review stating that the comic pieces tend to be exceedingly busy. The film picked up its reputation a little in 1985 when it began airing on television but really took off when Turner Broadcasting started its 24 Hours of A Christmas Story marathon in the mid-1990s. Now considered one of the best Christmas movies off all time, A Christmas Story had a cold take off.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Considered to be one of the go-to movies showcasing the wild and crazed drug culture of the 70s, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is based on the 1971 semi biographical novel of the same name written by Hunter S. Thompson. Hunter S. Thompson was the originator of “Gonzo Journalism”, a type of journalism where one would put themselves in the story and see what kind of chaos they could bring forth. Considered to be one of the most unpredictable and chaotic men of his generation, Thompson helped as much as he could on the film. This drug fuel epic was released in 1998 and stars Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro. This comical yet trippy movie was met with mixed reviews upon its release. Roger Ebert actual hated the film giving it a one out of four stars and stating that it was “a horrible mess of a movie”. Since its release it has grown a rather ravenous underground following and has been considered a go to “cult-classic” for drug movies.
The Big Lebowski
The Coen Brothers are no strangers to hit movies, just look at their back log with films like Raising Arizona, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou, No Country for Old Men and True grit, just to name a few. In 1998 the released the crime comedy film The Big Lebowski. With an all-star cast including Jeff Bridges, John Goodman Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, Tarra Reid and Phillip Seymore Hoffman, the film couldn’t lose. When the film hit theaters however the numbers were much lower than desired. All though it had decent reviews, it was in the theaters against the film Titanic which broke box office records its opening weekend. As time went on however more and more people began to fall in love with Bridges character, “The Dude”, who seemed to be written directly from Bridges life. The Big Lebowski is now considered to be a cult classic and is quoted in colleges around the country. Not many movies can bomb in theaters and later spawn its own religion however “Dudeism” was founded in 2005 and has ordained over 220,000 “Dudeist Priests”.
Dazed and Confused
Rounding out our list is one of the best coming-of-age comedies the 90s produced. Dazed and Confused was released in 1993 and was written and directed by Richard Linklater (Slacker, SubUrbia, School of Rock, Bad News Bears). The film had a cast of soon to be movie stars who had not broken just yet. The cast included Jason London, Ben Affleck Milla Jovovich, Joey Lauren Adams and Matthew McConaughey. The film did not have very much success in the box office however earning less than $8 million on a budget of just under $7 million. The film takes place in 1976 on the last day of school in Austin, Texas. It mostly follows two groups of friends, one that is going into high school and the other group who is about to be seniors in high school. As time went on the fan base grew larger and stronger with many stating that it was the film that best captures the feeling of being a teen going through the changes of status in different group dynamics.
There you have it, 5 movies that flopped in theaters but made their way into the hearts of fans around the world. A few honorable mentions before we leave you would be, Heathers, The Shawshank Redemption, The Wizard of OZ, Blade Runner and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Written exclusively for TheLastPicture.Show by Jacob Ruble
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