That’s why we’re diving into the crème de la crème of the box office flops that are now beloved classics. From out-of-this-world sci-fi epics to slapstick comedies, we’ve got a diverse lineup that will leave you saying either, “wow, I can’t believe I’ve never seen that before,” or “wow, I can’t believe that film made zero dollars!”
The Shawshank Redemption
Forget cult classics, "The Shawshank Redemption" is just a pure classic! Despite initially performing poorly at the box office, this Stephen King adaptation is widely regarded as one of the greatest movies ever made. When it was released in 1994, the film had to compete with blockbusters like "Forrest Gump" and "Pulp Fiction," leaving it with a box office total of just $16 million in its first ten weeks.
However, after receiving critical acclaim, the film gained real momentum. Even Tim Robbins, who played the lead role, admitted that the title was a bit hard to remember: "Let's be real, it's not the catchiest title... But, hey, at least people aren't calling it 'Shimmy, Shimmy, Shake' anymore."
"True Romance," the 1993 romantic crime film, made just $12.6 million on a budget of $12.5 million. It's like they didn't even try to make a profit! Maybe they should have hired some marketing geniuses, or people were too busy watching "Speed" or "Jurassic Park" that year.
But fear not, "True Romance" has since reached cult status, with a star-studded cast including Brad Pitt, Patricia Arquette, Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, and Christopher Walken. And, of course, it's written by Quentin Tarantino, the guy who would go on to become an icon in the movie industry. So what are you waiting for? Watch it!
Dazed and Confused
Alright, alright, alright, let's break down a little flick called "Dazed and Confused." This movie, which had a budget of only $6.9 million, was a box office flop back in 1993. It only made around $8 million in theaters. But don't worry. Once it hit home video, it quickly became a cult classic.
And it's no surprise to us. This movie captures the true essence of the '70s and teenage life like no other. The young ensemble cast was just top-notch. Critics and audiences alike praised this movie for years. It's become a part of pop culture and a must-watch for anyone looking to relive the glory days.
Ah, the infamous "Showgirls" — the movie nobody wanted to see in theaters, but everybody wanted to rent on VHS. With a budget of $45 million and a global gross of just $37 million, it's safe to say that it didn't exactly do well financially. But once it hit Blockbuster Videos across the country, it raked in over $100 million in home sales.
Sure, the lines are cheesy, the costumes are outlandish, and the pool scene is...questionable. But who cares? Director Paul Verhoeven, screenwriter Joe Eszterhas, and "Saved by the Bell"'s Elizabeth Berkley created a movie that has captured our hearts (and made us cringe) for over 20 years.
Released in 1999, "Fight Club" had a tough time at the box office ($37 million domestically) due to its violent content. Director David Fincher even got into a fistfight with the marketing team at Fox, blaming them for the film's underperformance. But hey, younger audiences were all about the movie's rebellious attitude and crazy plot twist. And after its release on home video, it gained a loyal following of fans.
Edward Norton also pulled no punches at the marketing team: "I think they were too busy trying to make it look like a serious drama when in reality, it's hilarious. Who doesn't love a good fight club, right?"
Wet Hot American Summer
When "Wet Hot American Summer" hit theaters in 2001, it was about as popular as a vegan hot dog at a Texas barbecue. It only brought in $295,200 on a budget of $1.8 million! But little did the world know that the movie was actually a satirical masterpiece that was just too ahead of its time.
Plus, it had a cast of future superstars like Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, and Elizabeth Banks. Now, it's an absolute camp classic that has since spawned a sequel AND a prequel series on Netflix. You could say its cult status is only getting higher and higher!
"Cry-Baby" was about as popular at the box office as a pop-up ad for nose hair trimmers. It cost $12 million to make but only raked in around $8 million. That's like ordering a pizza that's missing a couple of slices. However, the film's unique blend of kitschy musical numbers and Johnny Depp's lame haircut drew in a cult following of fans who love everything weird and wacky.
"Cry-Baby"'s absurdity has aged like a fine wine, becoming a cherished favorite among those who appreciate campy humor and over-the-top satire. It's no wonder the Broadway musical adaptation won a Tony Award — the movie was ahead of its time, man.
The 2001 film "Donnie Darko" struggled to make a splash at the box office, barely earning over $500,000 on its $4.5 million budget. Despite boasting a cast of future Hollywood stars, the movie's release was hindered by unfortunate timing. It came out on October 26, 2001, and featured a scene in which a jet engine crashes into a house.
It eventually gained a cult following thanks to home DVD sales and a successful U.K. release a year after its disappointing U.S. box office intake. Today, "Donnie Darko" is considered one of the best teen dramas of the 21st century and launched the careers of the Gyllenhaal siblings.
The Big Lebowski
Did you know that "The Big Lebowski" was a bigger flop than your average bad date? With a budget of $15 million, it only made $18 million domestically, which is just one big bummer. But hold on to your White Russians because this movie has become a cult classic and even inspired its own religion, "Dudeism."
That's right, The Dude abides, and so do over 600,000 ordained priests worldwide. Not bad for a movie that wasn't exactly an instant hit! Plus, with comedic legends like John Goodman, Steve Buscemi, and John Turturro, it's no wonder "The Big Lebowski" has earned a spot on the list of greatest cult movies ever.
The Princess Bride
Once upon a time, there was a movie that was so great; people just didn't get it. Of course, we're talking about "The Princess Bride," a film that was a bit of a dud when it first came out in 1987. Maybe it was Fox's marketing campaign, or maybe people were just confused about whether it was a fantasy, action, comedy, or children's movie.
But, oh boy, did it catch on when it came out on VHS! It was like everyone had been living under a rock until they saw it. To put it in numbers, the movie had a budget of $16 million but only made around $30.9 million at the box office.
So, there's this movie called "Idiocracy," right? It was made for like $2.4 million and only made back $495,000 at the box office. That's, like, not a lot of money, you know? But then, like, people started watching it on T.V. and stuff, and they thought it was really funny.
It's all about this future where everyone is super dumb, and everything is run by corporations, which sounds pretty crazy if you ask us! So yeah, the movie didn't do so great when it first came out, but now it's like a cult classic. People love it, man. Give it a watch!
"Heathers" didn't exactly set the box office alight upon its release in 1988, only bringing in $1.1 million out of a $3 million budget. But it seems the film's snarky high school vibes and twisted humor were too good to stay buried. The film tackled tough topics like social hierarchy and violence in a way that made it a must-see for any misfit teen.
Winona Ryder and Christian Slater brought their A-game to the project, giving us some truly iconic performances. And let's not forget the slang this movie introduced into the teen lexicon, which we definitely won't repeat here. "Heathers" may not have made a big splash initially, but it's definitely made a lasting impression.
The Iron Giant
"The Iron Giant" — a critically-acclaimed animated film that nobody went to see! Despite having a budget estimated between a whopping $70 and $80 million, the movie only managed to make a measly $23.2 million at the box office. The marketing team rushed the campaign, and it failed to create any buzz.
Perhaps people were put off by the movie's mature themes, lack of fairy tale elements, and Cold War setting. And there was no singing, which you'd come to expect from Disney! But fear not, dear readers, because "The Iron Giant" found a new life on home release and has become a cult classic.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show" wasn't always the cult classic it is today. It made just $22,000 at the box office on a $1.6 million budget. But then something magical happened. Fans started dressing up, dancing, and acting out scenes at midnight screenings, creating a completely immersive experience.
It's like the movie got a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart. Fans started hosting conventions, clubs, and even live stage productions. Since then, it has grossed over $170 million worldwide. And, let's be honest, who wouldn't want to dress up in fishnets and heels and sing "Time Warp" at the top of their lungs?
Children of Men
Despite having an impressive budget of $76 million, "Children of Men" didn't do so well at the box office, only grossing $35.6 million domestically. However, this bleak dystopian film has since gained a cult following due to its gripping storytelling and stunning cinematography.
Alfonso Cuarón's vision of a world without children, and the political upheaval that follows, struck a chord with audiences. The film follows Clive Owen's character Theo, who embarks on a mission to protect the first pregnant woman in almost two decades. Cuarón created a thought-provoking meditation on society and the consequences of unchecked power. What a classic.
In the Sanderson sisters' words, "It's just a bunch of hocus pocus" this film was initially considered a box office flop. But like a spell cast by the witches themselves, "Hocus Pocus" has resurrected itself as a cult classic.
Despite its lackluster box office performance in 1993, the film has become a staple of the Halloween season, charming audiences young and old with its spooky, whimsical tale of three witch sisters wreaking havoc on Salem, Massachusetts. With a budget of $28 million, it may have been a financial disappointment at the time, but now, its immense popularity knows no bounds.
Oh, hi, Mark! "The Room" is an absolute trainwreck of a movie, and yet, it's a masterpiece of unintentional comedy. Written, produced, executive produced, and directed by the mysterious Tommy Wiseau, the film had a budget of $6 million but made a pitiful $1,916 at the box office.
Critics savaged it upon release, and its Rotten Tomatoes score sits at a dismal 23%. But somehow, people began to see its so-bad-it's-good charm. It's now a cult classic, with fans buying copies on home video and packing theaters for special showings. In fact, a comedy movie about the making of "The Room," called "The Disaster Artist," was released in 2017.
David Lynch's "Dune" was a risky move. The movie was based on Frank Herbert's complex sci-fi novel, and Lynch was determined to stay true to it, even if that meant alienating newcomers. That's why the movie tanked at the theaters, only making $30.9 million domestically against a $40 million budget.
But as the sands of time passed, "Dune" has become a cult classic, thanks to its epic world-building and Lynch's unique vision. The special effects may not have aged well, but the movie still offers plenty of fun for Lynch fans, especially as it marked the director's first collaboration with Kyle MacLachlan. Many agree that Denis Villeneuve's recent remake is a far superior version.
This movie made us all want to take a baseball bat to a printer. Unfortunately, 1999's "Office Space" had a dismal performance at the box office, barely earning back its $10 million budget. But once it hit home video, it became a cult classic, beloved by college kids and office workers alike. Who knew that a movie about TPS reports, flair, and a red stapler would resonate so profoundly with the 9-to-5 crowd?
"Office Space" is now considered a masterpiece of workplace satire, inspiring many to "jump to conclusions" and "have a case of the Mondays." So if you're stuck in a job you hate, remember: at least you're not working at Initech.
"Reservoir Dogs" wasn't exactly a box office smash when it was first released in 1992. Despite wowing critics at Sundance and Cannes, it only made a fraction of its $1.5 million budget at the box office. But thankfully, the film's gritty dialogue, iconic soundtrack, and Tarantino's unique style eventually earned it a cult following.
And let's face it, who doesn't love a good heist movie with many guys in matching suits? Nowadays, "Reservoir Dogs" is considered a classic, and it's hard to imagine a world without Mr. Blonde's infamous dance scene or the ear-slicing scene that still manages to make us cringe.
It's a Wonderful Life
The ultimate Christmas classic, "It's a Wonderful Life" was anything but wonderful at the box office. Despite a solid budget of $3.7 million, it only managed to scrape together $3.3 million in domestic gross, causing RKO Pictures to lose over half a million dollars. In fact, the film was such a flop that it almost bankrupted the studio.
But fast forward to today, and it's a beloved holiday movie that gets more airtime than Santa's sleigh. And really, isn't that the ultimate comeback story? If George Bailey can bounce back from financial ruin, then surely there's hope for your own failed project, right?
Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, "The Master" is a 2012 film about a guy who really, really loves Scientology. Starring Joaquin Phoenix and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, the film made a grand total of $28 million at the box office, which is about as much as Tom Cruise makes in a week.
But despite its lackluster performance, "The Master" has since become a cult classic. It turns out that people really love watching Joaquin Phoenix yell and twitch for two hours straight. And since then, Phoenix’s career has only reached crazier heights, especially after winning Best Actor for his role as the Joker.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
"Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" was the sweetest flop of all time. Despite the movie's colorful candy-filled world and Gene Wilder's captivating performance, it didn't quite win over audiences in 1971. In fact, it was such a flop that Paramount didn't want anything to do with it. Thankfully, Warner Bros. swooped in and picked it up.
The film only made about $4 million, but it found a new life on T.V. and became a beloved family classic. Now, we can't even imagine a world without Gene Wilder's iconic portrayal of Willy Wonka and the unforgettable Oompa Loompa songs that get stuck in our heads for days.
The Last Duel
Ridley Scott's 2021 epic "The Last Duel" combines the charm of medieval times with the drama of Matt Damon sporting a mullet. Starring Adam Driver, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Jodie Comer, this movie promised to be a medieval hit. Sadly, the film only grossed $30.6 million at the box office, which is about as much as it costs to make a suit of armor these days.
However, "The Last Duel" is now being hailed as a modern classic. Apparently, people have realized that medieval knights are way cooler than superheroes. The film's intense action scenes and drama have made it a favorite among fans of epic medieval tales.
"The Thing" may have been overshadowed by "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" when it first hit theaters in 1982, but this isn't a story about a friendly alien. No, "The Thing" was a full-fledged body horror masterpiece set at the South Pole, and its grotesque special effects initially scared off moviegoers. But as with all good horror flicks, the film found its audience later.
John Carpenter's tense and terrifying direction and incredible practical effects are unforgettable. The movie cost $15 million to produce and only earned slightly above its budget, making just over $19 million at the box office. However, fans soon found their way to this body horror gem.
The Matrix Resurrections
"The Matrix Resurrections," the long-awaited fourth installment in the Matrix franchise, hit theaters in December 2021 with a resounding... thud. Despite the return of Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, the movie's box office performance was more "The Matrix Reloaded" than "The Matrix." With a budget of $190 million, it only managed to make $40.4 million domestically, which is enough to buy a few red pills and not much else.
But like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a crashed hovercraft, "The Matrix Resurrections" has developed a strong fan base. The film's mind-bending plot twists, stunning action sequences, and deep philosophical musings about reality have made it a must-watch for sci-fi aficionados.
Ah, "Cleopatra," the movie that made Elizabeth Taylor look like she owned an entire pyramid of diamonds. It was the biggest-budget film of its time, with a production cost that would make modern-day movie executives tremble in their boots. But alas, all that glitters is not box office gold. Despite earning $26 million upon release, it still fell short of the $31.1 million budget.
But "Cleopatra" has since been celebrated for its epic scale and Elizabeth Taylor's captivating performance as the Egyptian queen. It's a must-see for anyone who loves glitz, glamour, and a lot of sand. And don't forget the juicy behind-the-scenes gossip, including multiple director changes and on-set romances.
"Dredd" may have been a flop at the American box office back in 2012, but it was a hit with audiences who loved watching Judge Dredd kick some in his own unique style. Unfortunately, the movie's $45 million budget didn't quite make it back, but that didn't stop it from gaining a loyal cult following. The gritty dystopian thriller was like a breath of fresh air for critics.
Unfortunately for them, Hollywood's overlords had other thoughts. However, the film's loyal fans continue to worship at the altar of Judge Dredd, and the movie is now considered a cult classic that's just as cool as a leather jacket on a summer day.
Ahoy, matey! Let us tell ye a tale about "Cutthroat Island." This pirate flick, starring Geena Davis and Matthew Modine, was supposed to sail its way to box office glory, but it sank like a cannonball instead. Made with a budget of $98 million, it only managed to loot a measly $10 million at the box office. Critics weren't kind to it either, calling it a scurvy mess.
But don't walk the plank just yet, because this cinematic shipwreck is so bad it's good! So hoist the Jolly Roger and give "Cutthroat Island" another chance. Who knows, maybe you'll discover some hidden treasure in this cinematic sea.
Blade Runner 2049
"Blade Runner 2049" may have struggled to ignite the box office, but that doesn't mean it's not a total triumph in its own right. The sci-fi sequel made more than enough to cover its $150 million budget, but it fell short of expectations at the domestic box office.
Some folks complained that it was too long or too slow, but that's just because they're not used to having their minds blown for two and a half hours straight. For fans of the original "Blade Runner," though, the movie was a total masterpiece. It built perfectly on Ridley Scott's groundbreaking vision and brought the story into the 21st century with style and flair.
"Highlander" was the Scottish action-fantasy movie we never knew we needed. And in 1986, no one else thought they needed it either! The big-budget film cost about $19 million to make but only made a wee $12.8 million at the box office. Talk about a financial beheading!
But the power of the Scottish warrior couldn't be denied, and as time went on, "Highlander" gained an army of cult followers. Maybe it was the sweet tunes of Queen that hooked them, or perhaps it was the promise of immortality, but whatever the reason, people couldn't get enough. So even as the sequels and spin-offs kept rolling out, the original film was the most beloved.
Josie and the Pussycats
Remember that time in 2001 when "Josie and the Pussycats" hit theaters and then quickly disappeared without a trace, like a cat burglar in the night? Yeah, neither do we. With a budget of $39 million and a box office gross of only $15 million, it's safe to say the movie was a total flop.
Despite its lackluster performance, "Josie and the Pussycats" has since gained a cult following for its catchy tunes, hilarious humor, and biting commentary on corporate marketing. Starring Rachael Leigh Cook, Tara Reid, and Rosario Dawson as members of the girl group, the film tells the story of a sinister plot to control the minds of teenagers through popular music.
It's not often that a critically acclaimed movie with 11 Oscar nominations can be considered a box office flop, but that's exactly what happened with Martin Scorsese's 2011 film "Hugo." Despite its breathtaking visuals and captivating storyline, the movie struggled to break even at the box office, earning only $73 million domestically against a budget of $170 million.
However, in the years since its release, "Hugo" has become a beloved film for families to watch together, with its charming story about a young boy's journey of self-discovery and the early days of cinema. And who can resist the thrill of trying to solve the mystery of the cryptic clues?
Ah, "Waterworld," the movie that sunk at the box office harder than the Titanic. Despite earning a mere $88 million domestically on a $175 million budget, the film has since become a cult classic among fans who appreciate its wacky world-building and Kevin Costner's inexplicable gills.
Set in a future where global warming has turned Earth into one big ocean, the film follows Costner as a mutated mariner who gets embroiled in a quest for "Dryland" with a young girl who has a mysterious map. Sure, "Waterworld" may have drowned at the box office, but it's now a beloved cult classic for fans of cheesy '90s blockbusters and over-the-top action.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Picture this: a movie about a pop star that was destined for stardom but instead ended up flopping harder than a fish out of water. Made with a budget of $20 million, "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" failed to make a splash at the box office, earning only around $10 million.
But this mockumentary musical comedy is a hidden gem that has slowly but surely gained a following of die-hard fans. With its catchy songs and satire of the music industry, "Popstar" is a hilarious commentary on the absurdity of celebrity culture. Plus, it stars Andy Samberg and his Lonely Island buddies, so you know it will be a riot.
The Wicker Man
Nicolas Cage's rendition of "The Wicker Man" is a movie that proves that some actors will do anything for a paycheck. Despite a budget of $40 million, this wacky remake made only $38.8 million worldwide, which is about as much as Cage's tax bill. And yet, "The Wicker Man" has gained a devoted following among fans of "so bad it's good" cinema.
Cage stars as a detective who travels to a remote island to investigate the disappearance of a young girl, only to find himself in the middle of a cult with some truly bizarre rituals. Nicolas Cage punching a woman in a bear suit? Seriously, what more do you need?
"Event Horizon," the sci-fi horror film, was one of those movies that didn't quite strike the right chord with audiences in 1997. Maybe it was too gruesome for some or too expensive for others; who knows? With a budget of $60 million, it only managed to gross $26.6 million in the U.S.
But don't let those numbers scare you away. The film stars Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill and creates an atmosphere of dread that slowly builds until it unleashes the terror in its second half. For everyone else, it's more like a nightmare but for horror fans, it's like a dream come true.
"Steve Jobs," the guy behind Apple and the iPhone, had a movie made about him that was supposed to be super cool. The movie had a budget of $30 million but only made $34.4 million, which is like a penny to a millionaire. Critics loved it, calling it an "exhilarating portrait" with a "scorching script" and a "commanding performance," but the audience didn't come to the party.
The movie was directed by Danny Boyle, who said that they didn't release it right. Maybe they should have put it on TikTok or something. Anyway, it was overshadowed by a director change, but now it's a cult classic, like when you have a bad haircut that grows on you.
The King of Comedy
"The King of Comedy" was the box office flop that refused to go down without a fight. Despite its star-studded cast featuring Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis, the movie failed to make any real waves upon release. In fact, it barely made a splash at all, earning only $2.5 million domestically against a budget of $19 million.
But decades later, people still love watching De Niro's character, Rupert Pupkin, fail miserably in his quest for fame and fortune. These days, "The King of Comedy" is considered a cult classic, with critics and audiences alike hailing it as one of Martin Scorsese's finest films.
When "Speed Racer" first raced into theaters, it was like the filmmakers went full throttle and ended up hitting a banana peel on the way. The movie, made with a budget of $120 million, only managed to make $93.9 million, leaving the studio in the dust.
But years later, people can't get enough of the "Speed Racer" cheesy dialogue, neon-colored visuals, and zany action scenes. It's like "Fast and Furious" meets a psychedelic dream. So, hop into the driver's seat with "Speed Racer" next time you want a good laugh and a wild ride. It’s in pole position for cult status!
Once upon a time, the movie "Jack Frost" was a flop. No one wanted to watch it. The budget was $50 million and it only made $34.6 million. But lo and behold, like a snowman coming to life, the movie gained a cult following. People couldn't get enough of the heartwarming story about a dad coming back as a snowman to spend time with his son.
And let's not forget the awesome soundtrack with songs from Hanson that everyone still loves. Who would've thought a movie about a snowman could melt so many hearts? Despite its icy start, Michael Keaton playing a snowman never thaws out!
Jim Henson's fantastical film "Labyrinth," starring the iconic David Bowie, might not have had the box office success it deserved back in the day, only making back around half of its $25 million budget. But it seems that time has been kind to this fantastical adventure, as it has gained a cult following and earned critical acclaim.
Bowie's role as the Goblin King is especially memorable and has become a beloved part of the film's legacy. While the movie's commercial performance may not have been a hit, its quirky characters, catchy songs, and imaginative sets have cemented its place as a cult classic.
A movie about UFC, "Warrior" might not have been a knockout at the box office. But it sure did win the hearts of its cult following. With a budget of $25 million, the movie only managed to punch in $23.3 million at the box office. Despite this, the movie was praised for its powerful story and brilliant performances.
Nick Nolte's portrayal of the coach won him an Oscar nomination, and the movie has been described as a "sports-pic-cum-family drama" that is both moving and brilliant. While it didn't have the Hollywood stars of "The Fighter," which came out the same year, "Warrior" still managed to pack a punch.
Harold and Maude
In 1971, the romantic comedy "Harold and Maude" was a box office disaster. People couldn't wrap their heads around the May-December romance between a young man and an 80-year-old woman. It had a budget of $1.3 million and made only $2.2 million, hardly the financial success the producers hoped for.
However, it's now considered a cult classic, with screenings still held in theaters and festivals worldwide. Who would have thought that "Harold and Maude" would become such a hit? Perhaps it's because it's a love story transcending age and time, or maybe people enjoy watching a hearse used as a makeshift car.
David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive" had a lot going for it, including a $15 million budget, but unfortunately only made $20.1 million at the box office. Despite this initial lack of success, the film has gained a cult following since its release, with critics hailing it as one of the best films of the 21st century.
Originally planned as a T.V. series, the mysterious, mind-bending commentary on Hollywood has become a favorite of Lynch fans who enjoy delving into the film's complexities and theorizing about its mysteries. "Mulholland Drive" proves that sometimes it takes time for a film to find its audience and appreciate it for the masterpiece it truly is.
It seems like with every Travolta hit, there's an even bigger miss! Enter "Battlefield Earth." This sci-fi trainwreck may have been a critical and commercial bomb, but it has since become a cult classic that's out of this world. The film had a budget larger than the GDP of a small country, yet it only made a mere $29.7 million at the box office.
John Travolta's performance as the alien villain is as over-the-top as an intergalactic disco party, and the movie's cheesy special effects are more outdated than a VHS tape. Despite its initial failure, "Battlefield Earth" has found a loyal following of sci-fi fans who appreciate its so-bad-it's-good appeal.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Buckle up, folks, because we're about to take a ride on the wild side with "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen." This fantasy flick from director Terry Gilliam took a hit at the box office when it was released in 1988, making only $8 million against its whopping $46.6 million budget.
Maybe it was the mostly British cast nobody had heard of or the failure to market the one star (Robin Williams) properly, but whatever the reason, audiences didn't get it. But hey, critics loved it, and those who saw it remembered it. And who can blame them? With dazzling art direction, costume design, and visual effects, this movie is a feast for the eyes.
In 1992, Disney released a musical movie called "Newsies," and boy, did it tank. But like a good loaf of bread, it only improved with time. Starring a young Christian Bale, the movie tells the story of the Newsboys' Strike of 1899. Unfortunately, despite its all-star cast, including Bill Pullman, and Robert Duvall as Joseph Pulitzer, it only earned $2.8 million at the box office against a $15 million budget.
However, the movie became a cult classic thanks to its popularity on VHS. Families everywhere watched and sang along with the catchy tunes, making it a household name. Who knew that a movie about newsboys could be so fantastic?
The Wizard of Oz
"The Wizard of Oz" is a movie that’s become synonymous with Hollywood magic. Who can forget the iconic characters, the famous yellow brick road, and the unforgettable songs? But did you know that the movie actually started off as a box office flop? The movie was released in 1939 and made only about $3 million in its initial release, which was less than what it cost to make.
Despite this setback, the film has stood the test of time and become a cult classic that’s beloved by audiences and critics alike. It’s had multiple home video releases and re-releases and has earned around $29.7 million.
Remember that movie "Cloud Atlas?" The one with the crazy time-hopping plot and an A-list cast led by Tom Hanks and Halle Berry? Well, it turns out audiences weren't quite ready for its mind-bending storytelling and six different plotlines. Despite a whopping $128.5 million budget, it only made $27.1 million domestically.
But now, many years later, it's gained a cult following for its ambitious scope and impressive performances. Plus, who wouldn't want to see Tom Hanks play a tough-talking Irish gangster or a futuristic tribesman with a nose piercing? It's never too late to give "Cloud Atlas" a second chance.
In 1985, Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" was released with a budget of $15 million, but it failed to make an impact at the box office, grossing only $9.9 million domestically. Despite its lackluster financial performance, the movie's place at #17 on "The Guardian's" all-time sci-fi and fantasy list shows its lasting impact.
The movie boasts an impressive list of attributes, including quippy one-liners, crazy special effects, political references, sets that are very retro-futuristic in nature, and an ending that was a real gut-puncher. However, it lacked an obvious target demographic, possibly contributing to its initial failure. Regardless, "Brazil" has inspired filmmakers ever since and is a must-watch for sci-fi fans.
A Cure for Wellness
Gore Verbinski's "A Cure for Wellness" was a box office disappointment, earning only $8.1 million domestically against a $40 million budget. Despite its initial lack of commercial success, the film has since become a cult classic for horror fans. The movie's unsettling imagery, including disturbing eels, creepy dental procedures, and eerie mazes, draws viewers into its mysterious plot.
A marketing campaign that played into "fake news" confusion may have contributed to the film's initial struggles to find an audience. While the movie's gothic twists may be a bit stressful, "A Cure for Wellness" casts a spell on those who appreciate a horror flick that resists easy classification.
Big Trouble in Little China
"Big Trouble in Little China" is a cult classic that proves the box office isn't always the final word on a film's success. With a budget of $25 million and a domestic gross of only $11.1 million, this John Carpenter-directed movie starring Kurt Russell was a box office flop upon its release in 1986.
But as the years passed, the film's brilliant action scenes and mix of genres, including kung-fu cinema and romantic comedy, have earned it a dedicated following. Despite its problems with stereotypical humor, "Big Trouble in Little China" has become a beloved cult classic. Fans appreciate its ambitious attempt to combine Carpenter's diverse interests into one fascinating concoction.
Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain" is a film that was ahead of its time. With a budget of $35 million, the movie was a box office flop, earning only $10.1 million in the U.S. However, it's since become a cult classic, and for a good reason. The movie tells the story of love, life, and death through three intertwined timelines.
The visually stunning movie is a journey through space, time, and the afterlife. The complexity of the film may have put some people off, but those who are willing to take the journey will find it to be an unforgettable experience. Plus, it's always fun to see Hugh Jackman play a time-traveling conquistador.
It might not have been a hit at the box office, but "Blow Out" has become a classic in the eyes of many movie lovers. Brian De Palma's Hitchcockian thriller cost $18 million to make and only made $12 million at the domestic box office. Despite that, the movie has stood the test of time thanks to its stylish direction, imaginative plot, and brilliant performance by John Travolta.
"Blow Out" tells the story of a sound engineer who accidentally records a murder and becomes embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy. With its tense atmosphere and suspenseful scenes, it's no wonder why "Blow Out" has become a cult classic for fans of the genre.
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck are no strangers to big-screen success, but their 2007 collaboration, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," was a different story. Despite the movie's big budget of $30 million, it only managed to earn $3.9 million domestically.
It seems audiences were expecting an action-packed western. Still, instead, they got a slow-burn exploration of jealousy and fame that could put even the most caffeinated viewer into a meditative state. However, the film has gained a dedicated cult following over the years, thanks to its stunning cinematography and understated performances by Pitt and Affleck.
Spike Lee's 1995 crime drama "Clockers" didn't get the love it deserved when it was first released. Despite Lee's solid reputation as a director and an all-star cast that included Harvey Keitel, John Turturro, and a young Mekhi Phifer, the movie failed to make much of a dent at the box office, earning just $13.1 million on a $25 million budget.
But in the years since, "Clockers" has developed a cult following thanks to its searing portrait of inner-city life, sharp writing, and performances that pack an emotional punch. If you're a fan of Lee's gritty, thought-provoking work or enjoy a good crime thriller, "Clockers" is definitely worth a watch.
"Annihilation," the science-fiction thriller adapted from Jeff VanderMeer's cult novel, failed to capture audiences at the domestic box office with a budget of $55 million and a domestic gross of $32.7 million. However, the film was released on Netflix overseas, where it gained a following. Despite the poor box office performance, the film's stunning visuals and eerie score were praised, and Natalie Portman's performance was particularly acclaimed.
In the film, she portrays a scientist leading a rescue mission into a mysterious area. The movie is designed to be experienced at a high volume and with a captivated audience, with each surreal image taking viewers on a journey through psychological nuance and emotional depth.
"Beloved" had all the ingredients for a surefire hit: a talented director, an acclaimed novel, and a star-studded cast. But despite the hype, the movie failed to connect with audiences and only made $22.9 million domestically against its $80 million budget. Perhaps the film's challenging subject matter, which explored the trauma of slavery and the weight of inherited pain, proved too much for some viewers.
But over time, the movie has earned a devoted following as a haunting and deeply moving masterpiece, anchored by powerful performances from Beah Richards, Danny Glover, Thandie Newton, Kimberly Elise, LisaGay Hamilton, and of course, Oprah.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Edgar Wright's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" came out in 2010 with a whopping $85 million budget. But, unfortunately, the movie-goers didn't think it was worth their time, only paying a collective sum of $49.3 million to see it.
Despite its rocky start, the film quickly gained a cult following, thanks in no small part to its talented young cast, including Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Chris Evans. It's now hailed as one of the most innovative comedies of the 21st century, proving that sometimes, audiences don't know a good thing when it smacks them in the face with a bass guitar.
Despite its impressive cast, its ambitious story, and its $37 million budget, 1999's "Magnolia" only managed to earn $48.5 million worldwide. However, as time went on, this three-hour-long epic developed a pretty passionate fan base. Many viewers appreciate its unique storytelling, incredible performances, and beautiful Aimee Mann songs, amongst other things.
Director Paul Thomas Anderson crafted a sprawling drama that weaves together the lives of several characters in Los Angeles, and it's not exactly a light-hearted romp. The movie has been praised for its bold vision and striking visuals, and Tom Cruise's performance as a motivational speaker alone is worth the price of admission.
It's easy to see why "Barbarella" reached cult status. Jane Fonda looks absolutely out of this world as the titular space adventurer. Maybe audiences weren't ready for such a wild ride in 1968 when the film came out because it only made $2.5 million domestically against a budget of $9 million. But hey, at least it did better overseas, becoming a hit in Europe.
It wasn't until later, when the sci-fi craze really kicked off thanks to "Star Wars," that people started to appreciate "Barbarella" for what it is — a wild, wacky adventure through space and time with Fonda rocking some of the most iconic outfits in movie history.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" was a movie that couldn't catch a break from the beginning. They went through a revolving door of potential stars, from Jack Nicholson to John Belushi to Dan Aykroyd. Still, it wasn't until Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro took on the roles of Raoul Duke and Dr. Gonzo that things finally got moving.
But the film cost $18 million when it was only supposed to be $5 million. The box office returns were equally disappointing, with only $13.7 million in ticket sales. However, the movie gained a following on home video, with fans loving the crazy, smoke-fueled antics of the main characters.
Despite being considered by many as one of the greatest films ever made, "Citizen Kane" wasn't exactly a box office hit. Orson Welles' masterful filmmaking was ahead of its time, but unfortunately, audiences just weren't ready for it. It had a budget of $839,727 and only earned $1.8 million after re-releases, which was not great.
These days though, "Citizen Kane" is regarded as one of the greatest movies of all time. It even received nine Academy Award nominations but only won one for its screenplay. It's certainly made up for it with its lasting impact on the world of film.
Sid and Nancy
The punk rock biopic about the tragic love story of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen had all the right ingredients for success, with great actors and positive critical reviews. However, "Sid and Nancy" only managed to make $2.8 million at the box office, failing to break even, making it a rock flick flop for the ages.
One of the reasons for its initial lack of success may have been due to the lack of input from John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, who was not consulted about the film. Despite this, the movie's dark and gritty portrayal of the punk rock scene has resonated with audiences over time.
"Clue's" box office numbers may not have been a winner, but its multiple endings kept audiences guessing. With a budget of $15 million, the movie only brought in $14.6 million. To add insult to injury, theaters split up the different endings, leaving moviegoers scratching their heads about which version to watch.
But "Clue" has since become a cult classic, thanks to its cast of quirky characters and hilarious performances. Fans can't get enough of the film's slapstick humor, and it's easy to see why. Tim Curry may not have had much luck at the box office with "Clue," but his role as the butler Wadsworth is one of his most memorable.
There was a time when Neil Patrick Harris wasn't playing a lead in a popular sitcom. Between his roles as Doogie Howser and Barney Stinson, he was playing one of the titular characters of the sci-fi cult flick "Starship Troopers." With a budget of $105 million and a box office gross of just $121 million, it's safe to say that audiences didn't know what to make of this film when it was first released in 1997.
But like a giant bug that won't die, "Starship Troopers" has since crawled its way into cult classic status. It's a movie with everything you could want: giant alien bugs, over-the-top action, and political satire that hits harder than a tank shell.
"Matilda" may not have made big bucks at the box office, but it's a movie that truly stands the test of time. With a budget of $36 million and a gross of just over $33.5 million, it's safe to say that the film's financial performance was not as magical as Matilda's telekinetic powers.
"Matilda" has become a beloved film for anyone who loves a good underdog story, a dash of magic, and a lot of laughs. With memorable characters like Trunchbull, the evil principal, and Ms. Honey, the kind-hearted teacher, "Matilda" is a movie that will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Hold onto your hats as we discuss the box office flop turned cult classic, "Jupiter Ascending." This sci-fi space opera was released in 2015 and had all the makings of a blockbuster hit, with a star-studded cast including Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, and Sean Bean. But alas, the Wachowskis' latest film didn't quite meet expectations.
The film raked in a decent $183.9 million at the box office, but with an estimated production cost of over $210 million, it's no wonder studios were seeing stars of a different kind. And it's not just the studios who were disappointed; critics gave it a meager 28% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Despite Ridley Scott's best efforts, "Blade Runner" was a bit of a snoozer at the box office (earning $41.6 million on a $30 million budget) when it was first released in the 80s. Maybe it was because audiences were still dazzled by Harrison Ford's other iconic roles in "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and weren't ready to see him running around a bleak and rainy future city.
But it didn't take long for the film to develop a cult following. Over the years, "Blade Runner" has been re-edited and re-released several times, cementing its place in pop culture history as a true masterpiece and one of the most groundbreaking sci-fi flicks ever.
Death to Smoochy
This dark comedy, directed by Danny DeVito and starring Robin Williams and Edward Norton, tells the story of a disgraced children's show host who tries to take down his replacement, and boy, is it a wild ride! Unfortunately, when it first came out, "Death to Smoochy" was a bit of a flop.
Made with a budget of $50 million, it only managed to make a measly $8.3 million back. But this film has since found a new lease on life as a cult classic. Maybe it's the all-star cast, or perhaps it's the absurd storyline, but whatever the reason, fans can't get enough of it.
Before the Coen Brothers ran away with Oscars for movies like "No Country for Old Men," they were busy making box office flops like "Barton Fink." With a budget of $9 million and a box office gross of just $6.2 million, you could say that the movie didn't exactly set Hollywood on fire (if you saw the movie, you get the reference).
But for those in the know, "Barton Fink" is a masterpiece of the surreal, the bizarre, and the downright strange. With its mind-bending plot and unforgettable performances from John Turturro and John Goodman, it's a Coen brothers classic that's not to be missed.
Brendan Fraser seems to have done it all in his bizarre career. Not only has he made some incredible blockbusters and Oscar-winning performances, but he's also starred in his fair share of box office flops. "Dudley Do-Right" is a perfect example, with a cult following that's more loyal than a Mountie to his horse.
The movie's budget was as big as the Great White North itself, but it only raked in $10 million at the box office. Brendan Fraser's portrayal of the titular hero is as endearing as a beaver gnawing on a log. The film's ridiculous gags and puns are more abundant than maple syrup on pancakes.
Double-feature horror flick "Grindhouse" got mangled in the box office blender like a zombie caught in a propeller. But now it's a cult classic that's hotter than a Texas chainsaw massacre. Despite costing $67 million to make, it only earned a disappointing $25 million at the box office.
"Grindhouse's" extreme gore and ultra-violence, mixed with its campy dialogue and retro flair, are like a love letter to the cheesy B-movies of the past. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's ode to exploitation cinema has attracted a devoted cult following of fans who appreciate its twisted sense of humor and unbridled love for all things blood-soaked.
The Boondock Saints
"The Boondock Saints" didn't make it big when it first came out in 1999, but it’s a cult classic now. The movie was written and directed by Troy Duffy and stars Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus as two fraternal twin brothers on a mission of vigilante justice.
After defending themselves against Russian mobsters, they decide to take the law into their own hands. Despite the impressive $6 million budget, the movie only made $30,471 during its theatrical run. However, the film’s cult status has grown tremendously over the years. Fans appreciate the film's gritty action, witty humor, and well-crafted story.
The Man Who Fell on Earth
Oh boy, talk about a rocky start! "The Man Who Fell to Earth" was a British sci-fi flick with all the makings of a hit, but it was plagued by disagreements between film companies that led to a limited release. As a result, the movie barely broke even at the box office, with a budget of $1.5 million and only grossing $1.8 million.
To make matters worse, the critics absolutely shredded the film, with Roger Ebert calling it "preposterous and posturing." But despite the poor reception, "The Man Who Fell to Earth" has developed a cult following over the years. "Rolling Stone" even ranked it as the second-best sci-fi film of the '70s!
When it was released in 1987, the comedy adventure film "Ishtar," directed by Elaine May, was considered a box office flop, with a budget of $51 million and only grossing $14.4 million domestically. But nowadays, it has found a new life as a cult classic.
The film stars Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman as two bumbling songwriters who find themselves embroiled in a Cold War conspiracy while performing in Morocco. Though the two leads might seem out of place in their roles, their chemistry and comedic timing make up for it. The film's clever writing, hilarious gags, and charming performances have earned it a devoted following over the years.
Disney originally didn't want to invest in "Treasure Planet" because it was costly to make, using tech that was on its way out. They even botched the advertising, giving away major plot points in the trailer. To make matters worse, they released it at the same time as "Harry Potter" and "Santa Clause 2" — talk about poor timing!
The movie's budget was a whopping $140 million, but it only managed to make back $38.1 million at the domestic box office. Created by the brilliant minds behind "Moana" and "The Princess and the Frog," Ron Clements and John Musker, the movie has gained a loyal following.
The movie that sunk United Artists: “Heaven’s Gate” proves that sometimes a box office disaster can be a masterpiece. Director Michael Cimino’s extravagantly expensive Western starring Kris Kristofferson failed to recoup even a fraction of its $44 million budget, making it the most notorious flop in cinema history.
But who cares about money when you have a movie this good? Set in 1870 Wyoming, “Heaven’s Gate” is a breathtaking epic that follows Kristofferson’s Jim as he becomes Marshal and finds himself in the middle of a class war. There are battles, love stories, Christopher Walken monologues, and even roller skating. Yes, roller skating.
Listen up, groupies! We want to tell you the story of "Almost Famous" — the flick that nobody cared about until everyone cared about it! It's got everything: style, substance, and rock 'n' roll! This movie was Cameron Crowe's masterpiece and boy, it was a total steal. Made on a budget of just $60 million, this baby only brought in $47.4 million at the box office. Can you believe it?
But hey, like any good rockstar, we don't play by the rules of the mainstream. And over time, the world finally caught on to the beauty of this film. We’re pretty sure every aspiring musician out there has seen it at least once.