As with many of the best films of all time, Fight Club was a box-office underachiever - failing to meet studio expectations. As far as the worldwide theatrical release is concerned, they basically spent $63million to make $36million. It even cost Bill Mechanic his job as head of the 20th Century Fox movie studios. Many moviegoers simply didn't "get it." However, after it was released on video Fight Club's popularity skyrocketed, quickly reaching the masses of its target audience. As more and more people saw it who either missed it in theaters, or just didn't connect all the dots the first time around, word spread and it soon reached true cult-classic status.
Watching it again recently, I started to recall other films that were late bloomers, and decided to look up a few. These are their stories.
That's right, the movie most consider the greatest American film of all time was originally thought a disaster: It did so poorly at the box office that many wondered if anyone would ever back one of writer/director/star Orson Welles' movies again. Turns out William Randolph Hearst, on whose life the film was based, had threatened so many journalists and studio execs that he would destroy them if they supported the film that no one would support it. Many recalled that at the Academy Awards, the film was booed every time its name was mentioned. In the end, the film had as much staying power as any film ever could.
The Shawshank Redemption
Undoubtedly one of the greatest films of modern times, and arguably of all time, this instant classic only just barely paid for itself in its box-office release. In 1998, Shawshank was not listed in AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies, but nine years later (2007), it was #72 on the revised list, outranking both Forrest Gump (#76) and Pulp Fiction (#94), the two most critically acclaimed movies from the year of Shawshank's release. In 1999, film critic Roger Ebert listed Shawshank on his "Great Movies" list.
THIS film - shown on several all-time Sci-fi lists at NUMBER ONE, and in the top ten for anyone who knows what they're talking about - also barely paid for itself, netting less than $5million.
The Usual Suspects
The greatest trick this movie ever pulled, was convincing the world it didn't exist. For those of you who have seen this one, you KNOW how amazing it is, and what a phenomenal job was done in all aspects of this film. Sadly, this incredibly rich and hearty mystery flick made a mere $23million in the box-office. Luckily, it only cost $6million to make - today's filmmakers should take note - you don't HAVE to spend hundreds of millions of dollars...
The Boondock Saints
Costing $6million to make, and raking in only around a quarter of a million dollars worldwide (only $30,000 in the US), this film has since made around $50million in video sales. Critics have always seemed to hate this one, but audiences love it. It just took a while to get around to everyone.
Can you think of any more? Don't be afraid to chime in!