With the upcoming Salem’s Lot following in a long tradition of epic movie adaptations of Stephen King stories, it’s easy to forget that perhaps the most iconic of all time, The Shawshank Redemption, actually performed very poorly at the box office upon its initial release. Some movies need a little longer to get the recognition they deserve despite being thoroughly excellent in their own right.
That’s why the movie buffs of Reddit have come up with a huge list of movies that, though amazing works of filmmaking, flopped at the box office when they first came out.
It would be easy to write off a movie that was not just a box office failure but also panned by critics too but The Boondock Saints has a redemption arc worthy of the movie’s underdog vigilante main characters, as Redditor Koinutron explains. They describe how it “made $30,471 at domestic box office. $411k worldwide. Made $20-50M in DVD sales. I love this movie.”
Its tale of three oddball characters that end up becoming violent crime fighters in Boston while being hunted by a merciless FBI agent may have taken a while to find its audience but it now enjoys a cult classic status. With a third movie reportedly on the way, it shows how much has changed since the movie’s disappointing release.
While John Carpenter movies are beloved by a large group of cinephiles, wider audiences haven’t always been quick to see the appeal. One example of this is The Thing, which Redditor kasetti tentatively put forward, saying “The thing wasn’t the biggest flop, but it didn’t do too great either.”
Although the movie made back its production costs and spawned a fair amount of merchandise, its underwhelming box office performance meant many weren’t ready for just how terrifying and perfect the classic alien movie is. Of course, the movie is now considered a masterpiece even amongst Carpenter’s prestigious catalog.
Citizen Kane‘s legendary status as one of, if not the greatest movie of all time has almost become something of a cliche in itself, which makes it even more surprising that the movie struggled at the box office when it was initially released. Redditor peterhohman puts forward Orson Welles’ movie, saying that although it’s one “of the greatest films of all time”, it actually “lost money at the box office.”
The revolutionary techniques that Welles employed in the movie may have helped it secure its legendary status but they also likely limited the movie’s broad appeal to only those interested in watching something a little different at the time. Luckily, a re-release in the 50s found a more receptive audience and the movie achieved a greater degree of commercial success.
Paul Thomas Anderson might be a name that immediately gets film buffs excited but it’s fair to say his movies don’t always have the mainstream appeal to match. Redditor MammothFlan explains the problem, describing how The Master is “One of the best films of the 10s but lost a few million at the box office.”
They go on to list a few more examples of Anderson’s movies that lost money but The Master stands out as a uniquely superb piece of filmmaking. The movie centers on a drifter who finds himself wrapped up in a mysterious religious movement and it left a huge impact on critics and fans alike, though that number sadly ended up being quite small.
It’s a testament to how much the narrative around Dredd has changed that it’s now considered one of the best science fiction remakes of all time. Redditor boomboomgoal was the one to put forward the movie, echoing a sentiment felt by many in saying it’s a movie they “regret not seeing in the cinema”.
When the movie was released in 2012, audiences weren’t too interested in its depiction of a violent post-apocalyptic world where Dredd enforces a kind of justice and so it was considered a failure. However, more and more people have come to enjoy the movie’s rough charms and it’s now considered a cult success.
Based on the Scott Pilgrim graphic novel, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World impressed critics and quickly found an adoring fanbase when it was released. Unfortunately, the one thing it didn’t manage to achieve was a commercial success. Redditor ReflexImprov quickly received a ton of support for suggesting the fan favorite as one of the best flops in cinema.
They explain that “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World cost more than it made at the box office, but it is a fantastic movie” and, like many, they believe it deserved better. Though it didn’t perform as poorly as other flops, its large budget meant the poor performance was felt all the more keenly despite the movie’s unique and likable humor.
The directorial debut of Brad Bird, who went on to direct Ratatouille and The Incredibles, The Iron Giant is a heartfelt treat that features stunning visuals and a bunch of memorable moments. Though it was praised by critics and the few who went to see it on release, it didn’t get close to making back its production budget until it was revived on home video and became a cult classic.
Redditor gf120581 considers it a “Great example” of how amazing movies can flop, suggesting that “given how popular it has become since, entirely the fault of the studio and the marketing department”. While that can be debated, few on Reddit disagreed that the movie deserves to be considered amongst the best box office flops of all time.
Developing a sequel to another famous box office flop and giving it a budget usually reserved for superhero blockbusters was never likely to result in a huge amount of commercial success but Blade Runner 2049‘s underperformance is still impossible to ignore. Redditor Alpha-Trion was not alone in thinking that it was always going to be a flop.
They wondered “what compelled the studios to give so much money to an R-rated 3-hour long slow burn sci-fi thriller”, but mentioned that, like a lot of the movie’s fans, “I’m glad they did”. Its slow nature along with a fascinating and compelling story and one of the best science fiction couples mean it’s a darling of sci-fi fans and critics regardless of its box office performance.
From Carrie and The Shining to the recent It movies, Stephen King’s stories seem to have a box office appeal that outweighs almost any other author and Warner Bros. is banking on it working again for the upcoming Salem’s Lot movie. However, Redditor DunklerReiter only had to say “Shawshank Redemption” for many to agree that it’s an iconic box office flop.
Upon its initial release, the incredible prison escape movie that stars Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman failed to make back its production costs though thankfully a successful awards season gave it a new lease of life. It’s now hard to imagine a time when The Shawshank Redemption wasn’t one of the most beloved movies ever made but, for a while, it was the case.
While Blade Runner 2049 might have underperformed with a bigger budget, Blade Runner stands out even more, as no movie since has come to have such an important status in the world of art despite being a box office flop. This point was emphasized by the fact that even many Redditors didn’t know the movie was a failure at the box office.
Redditors like shaunika had to tell others the extent of the commercial failure of Ridley Scott’s distinctive cyberpunk adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, saying “it made like 32 mil on a 28 mil budget”. Though critics still disagree about its quality, there’s no doubt that Blade Runner shaped the world of sci-fi in cinema and beyond, which is why many agree it’s the greatest movie to flop at the box office ever.
NEXT: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts You Didn’t Know About Blade Runner