Related Videos

Top 10 Films You Can't Believe Flopped At The Box Office

VO: Matthew Wende
Written by Thomas O'Connor These incredible movies have been revered and even become classics in some cases, but that unfortunately doesn't mean they were able to draw in movie-goers when first released in theatres! WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Great Movies that Failed at the Box Office! But what will take the number one spot on our list? Blade Runner, The Wizard of Oz, or Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Big thanks to ninou78 for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Films+That+Should+Have+Never+Flopped+At+The+Box+Office

You must register to a corporate account to download this video. Please login

Sometimes brilliance goes unappreciated. Welcome to and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Films You Can’t Believe Flopped at the Box Office.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the very best films that were duds at the box office, despite being entertaining, or even downright groundbreaking, pieces of cinema.

#10: “The Shawshank Redemption” (1994)

This now-beloved tale of a jailbreak years in the making only found an audience after its theatrical run. Despite only drawing in $28 million domestically against a $25 million dollar budget, the film later found massive success when it was released on VHS and acquired by cable networks for home viewing. Now Frank Darabont’s classic film can be found at the very top of IMDb’s “Top 250” list of the greatest films of all time. It just goes to show, sometimes you have to crawl through a river of you-know-what before you come out the other side clean.

#9: “Dredd” (2012)

Maybe it was the all-too-fresh memories of the less-than-stellar Sylvester Stallone movie from the 1990s, but audiences weren’t too excited for this second attempt at adapting the classic cult comic about a ruthless cop from a dystopian future. However, those who made the trip to the theatre found that the film was a blast, despite bombing on a budget somewhere around $30 million and $45 million. Hard-hitting action, an interesting world, and a version of the character who actually keeps his helmet on; the film delivers on all these and more. Hopefully its second life on home media will open up the possibility for a followup.

#8: “Big Trouble in Little China” (1986)

This classic is now considered one of finest collaborations between Kurt Russell and John Carpenter, but audiences in 1986 didn’t really know what to make of the kung-fu/fantasy/comedy mashup and the film quietly left theatres after just a couple of weeks, only making $11 million. But thanks to the magic of home video, it now has a devoted cult following that knows the film inside and out. Sadly, this wasn’t the first time that Russell/Carpenter brilliance would be met with box office failure, as their previous collaboration, “The Thing”, met a similar fate.

#7: “The Princess Bride” (1987)

You know all the quotes, you can re-enact every scene, and you’ll drop the word “inconceivable,” into any sentence you can. We’re all fans of this classic fantasy/comedy here. But back in the day, audiences just weren’t ready for this classic tale of love, sword fighting, and castle storming, and the film barely made $30 million on a budget of $16 million. Thankfully, much like the teeny tiny Fred Savage that the story is being read to, people came around eventually and embraced the film for all of its quotable glory.

#6: “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” (1971)

While the Candy Man can do lots of things, it turns out he can’t make his money back at the box office. While this Roald Dahl adaptation is now a considered a classic that’s enjoyed by both children and adults, upon release it was considered to be a failure, not even recouping its budget of $3 million. It could be that Dahl’s disowning of the film hurt its reputation, or it could be that audiences at the time just didn’t have the sweet tooth to enjoy Willy Wonka’s blend of sugar and sass. Whatever the reason, it didn’t affect Wonka’s staying power, and the movie continues to delight – and frighten – to this day.

#5: “Citizen Kane” (1941)

Charles Foster Kane is no stranger to losing money. Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time, Orson Welles’ masterpiece didn’t connect as much with audiences during its first theatrical run. The film lacked the mainstream appeal necessary to draw big crowds, and Welles himself said that almost no one besides himself attended the movie’s Chicago premiere. The film eanred only a fraction of its almost $840, 000 budget, but managed to make its money back and then some when it was re-released in 1991.

#4: “The Iron Giant” (1999)

This animated coming-of-age tearjerker is now regarded as the go-to movie for getting normally stoic men to cry like tiny children, but audiences weren’t that interested in the heartrending tale of a boy and his giant robot upon release, and the film underperformed at the box office. Despite gorgeous animation and a stellar voice cast including Jennifer Aniston and a young man by the name of Vin Diesel, the film only made $31 million worldwide, well falling short of a budget between $70 million and $80 million. Thankfully, the film later found success on home video, and we’ve been ugly crying ever since.

#3: “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (2010)

All the elements were in place: a beloved director with style to spare, a whole host of stars, eye-popping video game inspired visuals, and a killer soundtrack. But when it came time for this 2011 comedy based on the hit indie comic book, audiences sadly weren’t hooked. Maybe people just weren’t that into Michael Cera anymore, or maybe the pixelated aesthetics weren’t to the liking of most moviegoers, but this cult hit was destroyed at the box office, losing the studio millions of dollars. Among director Edgar Wright’s filmography, it’s often seen as a misfit, but to us, it remains an all time classic.

#2: “Blade Runner” (1982)

A meddling studio and an audience burned out on sci-fi are often cited as the causes of this legendary film’s underperformance at the box office, barely recouping its $28 million dollar budget with a $33 million dollar take. Ridley Scott’s sci-fi noir opus was legendarily mangled by a meddling studio, who insisted that an out of nowhere happy ending be tacked on, as well as numerous other cuts. It wasn’t until years later that the definitive version of the film was finally made available, complete with the proper downbeat ending. But even in its neutered state, this radical vision of the future was unlike anything audiences had seen before.

#1: “The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

Despite its monumental technical achievements and lasting legacy, the adventures of a Kansas farm girl in the magical land of Oz failed to enchant audiences upon the film’s initial release, barely making $3 million against a $2.8 million dollar budget. The adventures of Dorothy and friends are now seen as a landmark in cinematic history, in spite of initial audience apathy. It just goes to show that sometimes a film that doesn’t instantly break the bank can still go on to become an indelible cultural icon, it just might take a decade or two.

Sign in to access this feature

Related Blogs