Box Office Bombs That Are Universally Loved

Just because a movie tanks at the box office doesn't mean it's bad.

A recent online discussion lists movies that failed at the box office but are beloved today.

1. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Image Credit: RKO Radio Pictures.

One commenter answered, “It's a Wonderful Life is probably the most prominent example. It was an absolute flop at the box office. It almost killed the studio that made it. At one point, there was some debate about ownership, and nobody wanted it, so TV networks could air it without paying anyone. That's when it started showing on TV around Christmas, and it became one of the best Christmas movies of all time.”

2. The Princess Bride (1987)

Image Credit: MGM.

“This is a blessing in disguise, as they never felt the need to make a Princess Bride 2 and retroactively ruin it,” said one commenter.

Another stated, “They didn't know how to market it. Is it a fantasy film? Is it an action film? Is it a comedy? Is it for kids? All the reasons it became a classic are the same reasons they couldn't get people into the theaters to see it.”

3. Clue (1985)

Clue 1 Paramount Pictures MSN
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

One filmgoer noted, “This is partly because of how they marketed- instead of the film playing three endings airing one after another, they released three separate cuts, each with its conclusion. The schtick was that you wouldn't know which end you would see and could see it multiple times to try to see the other endings. But, unfortunately, audiences didn't find that prospect appealing.”

4. Matilda (1996)

Matilda 2 Tristar MSN
Image Credit: Tristar.

One fan said, “Absolute 10/10 movie. Danny Devito as the dad was a superb casting choice.”

“I loved the original Roald Dahl story as a kid, so I hated the movie when it came out. I was too young to understand adaptations. But, looking back on it, it is an entertaining and charming kid's movie, even if it has little to do with the book.”

5. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox

One commenter replied, “It was nominated for ten Academy Awards and was critically acclaimed, with a great cast. There were plans for a sequel, which never materialized in part due to the poor box office showing. 

And why didn't those ten nominations turn into awards? Because unfortunately for M&C, it had the misfortune of competing for them with Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, which neatly won 11 awards that year. Some serious bad luck and poor timing are why so many people have never heard of this masterpiece.”

6. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

two men crouching in prison
Image Credit: Castle Rock Ent.

One fan stated, “Shawshank Redemption notoriously bombed at the box office and went on to receive critical acclaim.” Others discussed it being “A monster year for film.”

Finally, a third commenter agreed, “Seriously. Pulp FictionForrest GumpThe Lion KingClerks, The MaskDumb and DumberAce VenturaTrue LiesNatural Born Killers, The CrowSpeedEd Wood. 1994 was insane.”

7. Office Space (1999)

Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

One filmgoer confessed, “I was of working age when this masterpiece came out, but I recently watched again as a 40-something, and I can tell you that it's even more relevant to me than it was back in the day. It's almost so accurate that it depressed me, lol.” 

“Yeah, the longer I work in an office, the more I relate to Milton,” said a second.

Finally, a third joked, “You either retire young or work long enough to see yourself become the Milton.” This line, of course, is a clever play on Harvey Dent's line from The Dark Knight

8. Tremors (1990)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

One person admitted, “I saw Tremors late at night, probably in the USA, during a stretch of insomnia. It was far better than it had any right to be.” Many others agreed with the sentiment.

Another shared, “So when we watched this as a family and introduced our kids to it, at the scene where the car gets sucked into the ground with the generator running, and the power goes out, a transformer blew in our neighborhood simultaneously and caused our homes power to go out. My kids LOST their minds while their dad and I were rolling.”

9. The Thing (1982)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

One critic exclaimed, “One of my all-time favorite horror movies! I understand it's regularly taught in film schools, not just for the practical effects but for the paranoia central to the story. You never knew, even at the very end, who was genuinely human and who was an imitation.”

“One of the prime examples of why CGI isn't needed to make a good horror film,” added a second.

10. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

One fan said, “For the Classic film it is, the 1971 Willy Wonka film didn't do well at the box office and earned lower than the budget was for it.”

Many people acknowledged their affinity for Gene Wilder's performance over Johnny Depps in the 2005 remake. Another fan stated, “Gene Wilder is the one true Wonka.” Also, no one credited the legendary Michael Scott's Willy Wonka from The Office. 

A thread inspired this post.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.