25 brilliant films that exploded at the box office

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IIt can’t be easy to predict which movies will fire at the box office, but every once in a while, something big happens that doesn’t go so well.

Over the years, there have been a surprising number of films that have struggled, or even failed, to recoup their budgets, unfairly earning the “box office flop” label.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why movies like these – Children of men and It’s a wonderful life, to name a few – have a hard time finding an audience at first. But, most of the time, the quality shines through and the film ultimately finds a cult fan base beyond its theatrical release.

With the advent of streaming services, reliance on box office numbers has diminished somewhat over the years. It also means that movies that struggled to find an audience when released could potentially find love years later after being added to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or some other service.

The assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford (2007)

Andrew Dominik’s revered western only recouped half of its $ 30million (£ 22million) budget when it hit theaters in 2007. However, it luckily found love after its release. on DVD and Blu-ray, no doubt helped by its inclusion in several “best movies”. the lists of films of the year.

Black hat (2015)

Michael Mann’s underrated cyber-thriller was a box office bomb, earning just $ 19.7million (£ 15million) at the box office against a budget of $ 70million (£ 52.5million). pounds sterling). Unfairly scathing reviews probably didn’t help.

Blade Runner (1982)

It’s hard to imagine a flagship film like Blade runner being a flop at the time of its release, but that’s exactly what Ridley Scott’s sci-fi film was. After a lackluster tour of America, the film proved to be sustainable with global audiences and became word of mouth success in the process. Yet he only recovered $ 10.5million (£ 8million) more than his budget of $ 30million (£ 22.5million).

Children of Men (2006)

While now considered one of the best films of the 21st century, Alfonso Cuarón’s dystopian thriller, starring Clive Owen, failed to make its box office money when it was released in 2006. .

Citizen Kane (1941)

Orson Welles’ film may now be a beloved classic, but that was a different story in the early 1940s: it failed to recoup its box office costs – and was beaten to the Oscar for best film by (the very good one) How green was my valley.

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(Pictures from RKO radio)

Watchmakers (1995)

Spike lee Watchmakers ranks among the director’s most disappointing box office performances to date, taking just $ 13million (£ 10million) out of a budget of $ 25million (£ 18.7million).

Deep Water Horizon (2016)

Peter Berg’s real-life drama fell more than $ 30million (£ 10million) below its budget of $ 156million (£ 117million) – a shame considering it’s the one of Friday night lights best creator movies to date (who, the guy who directed Battleship and Thousand 22, we assume that does not say much).

Donnie Darko (2004)

Donnie Darko has grossed just over $ 7.5million (£ 5.6million) worldwide on a budget of $ 4.5million (£ 3.3million). A notable reason for its failure was likely due to the fact that its marketing campaign focused on the scene involving an airplane engine crash a few weeks before September 11. Thankfully, the film became a cult following after its DVD release and is now one of the most famous films of the 2000s.

(Dale Robinette / Fleur / Gaylord / Adam Fields Prod / Kobal / Shutterstock)

Event Horizon (1997)

With its fears à la B and its ridiculous twists, Event horizon had all the ingredients to become a hit. Instead, it was a commercial and critical failure, grossing $ 26.7million (£ 20million) out of a production budget of $ 60million (£ 45million).

Fight Club (1999)

There was something of a controversy around David Fincher Fight Club at the time of its release due to rumors that studio executives didn’t like the finished product. It is for this reason that the bosses cut back on the planned marketing campaign in an attempt to reduce what they expected from bad ticket sales. So it’s no surprise that the film was a disappointment at the box office.

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Heaven’s Gate (1980)

Michael Cimino’s ambitious epic is known to be one of the biggest box office bombs of its time, losing United Artists studio around $ 37million (£ 27.7million) – more than $ 114 million dollars (£ 85.5 million) after adjusting for inflation. The film, which was criticized by critics at the time, has been re-evaluated in recent years – and is better regarded as one of the last truly director-directed films of this Hollywood era.

Hugo (2011)

Martin Scorsese’s charming family film was a commercial failure, grossing just $ 185million (£ 138.6million) against its budget of $ 150-170million (£ 112-127million). Five years later he would have another flop with Silence, which consequently made the studios reluctant to invest in the director’s future projects. Instead of. Scorsese moved on to streaming, releasing Irish on Netflix in 2019. It will release its next two films, including that of 2022 The killers of the flowering moon, on Apple TV +.

(Paramount / Gk / Kobal / Shutterstock)

The Insider (1999)

Though beloved by critics, the Michael Mann drama – starring Al Pacino and Russell Crowe – never clawed back its $ 68million (£ 51million) budget.

The Iron Giant (1999)

Although it is one of the greatest animated films of all time, The iron giant fell victim to Warner Bros’ skepticism of the genre after their previous effort failed, Camelot Quest. Future Pixar director Brad Bird’s film grossed $ 31.3million (£ 23.4million) worldwide on a budget of $ 70-80million (£ 52-60million) .

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

While not a major flop, this classic underperformed at the Christmas box office due to stiff competition from other big movies released at the time, including that of William Wyler. The best years of our life and Powell and Pressburger’s A matter of life and death.

The King of Comedy (1982)

Although Martin Scorsese’s drama was well received by critics, it exploded at the box office. Reflecting on this, lead star Robert De Niro said that the film “may not have been so well received because it gave off an aura of something that people didn’t want to see or know”.

King Richard (2021)

Despite the publication of a dissertation and many catchy titles weeks ago king richard, Will Smith failed to get people to care about his new movie. Tracing the life of the tennis coach father of Venus and Serena Williams, king richard is pure Oscar bait and, while not technically “brilliant”, it is an extremely charming watch. Not many people know: With a budget of $ 50million (£ 37million), her current revenue after two weeks of release stands at $ 16.4million (£ 12.2million).

Man on the Moon (1999)

This film by Miloš Forman’s Jim Carrey ended up costing Universal dearly after failing to recoup its budget of $ 52 million to $ 82 million (£ 39 to 61.4 million). In 2017, footage from the making of the film was turned into a documentary Jim and Andy: the great beyond, who documented Carrey’s transformation into comedian Andy Kaufman.

mother! (2017)

First, yes – we classify Darren Aronofsky’s psychological horror as a “big” movie. Second, yes – he’s considered a flop after making just $ 14million (£ 10.5million) at the box office.

Mulholland Drive (2001)

David Lynch’s Jigsaw Puzzle is considered one of the greatest movies of all time, but it was so difficult to market that it failed to recoup its $ 20 million budget ($ 15 million). pound sterling).

Scott Pilgrim Against the World (2010)

Edgar Wright’s latest film, Last night in Soho, flopped. at the box office – but that wasn’t the director’s first disappointment. In 2010, Scott pilgrim was a box office bomb, totaling $ 47.7million (£ 35.8million) against its production budget of $ 85-90million (£ 63.7million at 67.5million million pounds sterling). However, love for the film is strong 11 years later, with the director tweeting regularly every time it airs on TV.

‘Scott Pilgrim vs the world’

(Big Talk Productions / Kobal / Shutterstock)

The Redemption of Shawshank (1994)

This Stephen King adaptation could top IMDb’s ‘250 best’ list, but it was a box office disappointment when it was released, earning just $ 16million (£ 12million) when it was released. of its first theatrical release. It would then be re-released and gross $ 58.3million (£ 43.7million) which is kind of a cheat, but we’ll allow it.

A Simple Plan (1998)

This Oscar-nominated Coen brothers-style black from Sam Raimi, who is currently on BBC iPlayer, raised $ 17million (£ 12.7million) at the box office. It may have cemented its fate to be one of the most misunderstood films of the 1990s.

This is a spinal puncture (1984)

It wasn’t until its home entertainment release that Rob Reiner’s mock documentary This is the spinal cock, documenting the rise of a fictional band, has become the beloved classic that it is today.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

It might be a better adaptation of Roald Dahl, but Gene Wilder’s film made a tiny profit of $ 1million (£ 749) when it was originally released in 1971. It solidified its status. from one of the most beloved family movies of all time after becoming a regular fixture on Christmas TV shows.


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