Have you ever found yourself trying to convince people to go see movies that failed at the box office? Or saying, “Just give it a chance! It might be bleeding money right now but it’s worth watching!”
If the answer is yes to either of those questions, then this movie list is for you. We define “flops” as films that didn’t perform that well as expected or just flat-out lost money in theaters. And we define “great movies” as those that were critically praised or loved by audiences or both! such as, the cult classics and underrated gems.
Here is out list of movies that failed at the box office with some fun facts thrown in!
10. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)
Cost: US $18.5 million
Box office: US $10.6 million
What is it with Terry Gilliam? Audiences weren’t turned on by reliving Hunter S Thompson’s drug-induced psychosis. Only on VHS could students finally get stoned in their rooms and watch it on repeat. Total loss for this movie was 7.9 million making it to our list of movies that failed at the box office.
More fun facts about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is a novel written by Hunter S. Thompson in 1971.
- The book is a work of gonzo journalism, in which the narrator (who is also Thompson) becomes fully immersed in the events he is reporting on.
- The novel was adapted into a film directed by Terry Gilliam in 1998, starring Johnny Depp as Thompson’s alter-ego Raoul Duke and Benicio del Toro as Dr. Gonzo.
- Thompson himself had a small role in the film as a hitchhiker.
- The novel is considered a seminal work of the New Journalism literary movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
- The book is set in Las Vegas, Nevada in 1971 and it is a satire of the counterculture of the 1960s.
- The book is considered one of the greatest pieces of Gonzo journalism ever written.
9. Heathers (1988)
Cost: US $2 million
Box office: US $1.1 million
Could Clueless and Mean Girls really exist without Heathers? And to think it was nearly lost in obscurity forever. The total loss for this move was 900k which puts the Heathers on our list of movies that failed at the box office.
More fun facts about The Heathers
- “Heathers” is a 1988 American black comedy film directed by Michael Lehmann and starring Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, and Shannen Doherty.
- The film is about a group of high school girls, all named Heather, who are the most popular and powerful students at their school.
- The film follows the protagonist, Veronica, as she becomes disenchanted with the group and teams up with a mysterious new student, J.D., played by Christian Slater, to take them down.
- The film was not a box office success upon its release but has since gained a cult following.
- The film’s dark humor, which satirizes high school politics, teenage angst and suicide, was not well received by some critics and audience but praised by others.
- The film has been noted for its exploration of social hierarchies and the darker side of adolescent behavior.
- The film’s quotable dialogue, particularly that of Christian Slater’s character J.D., has become iconic and widely quoted.
- The film’s soundtrack, which features 80s pop songs, has also been praised for its ability to add to the film’s darkly comedic tone.
- The film has been adapted into a musical, which premiered off-Broadway in 2014.
8. The Wizard of Oz (1939)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Cost: US $2.7 million
Box office: US $3 million
Today, the American box office of the film is just over $22 million, but this thanks to the re-releases that the production has had in the last decades. In the initial screenplay, “The Wizard of Oz” grossed a mere $3 million, even though it was MGM’s most expensive film to date. Making this movie fit the bill for our list of movies that failed at the box office.
More fun facts about The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- “The Wizard of Oz” is a 1939 American musical fantasy film directed by Victor Fleming and produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
- The film is based on L. Frank Baum’s 1900 novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”.
- The film stars Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale, a young girl from Kansas who is transported to a magical land.
- The film was a box office success and has since become a cultural icon, known for its musical score, special effects, and performances, particularly Garland’s portrayal of Dorothy.
- The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but did not win any.
- The film’s most famous song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was almost cut from the film because the studio thought it slowed down the movie.
- The film’s use of Technicolor and its special effects, especially the transition from black and white to color, were groundbreaking at the time of release.
- The film’s success led to the creation of numerous spin-offs and adaptations, including a popular stage musical.
- The film’s popularity has led to it being re-released in cinemas multiple times, the most recent being in 2013 for its 75th anniversary
7. Fight Club (1999)
Fight Club (1999)
Cost: US $63 million
Box office: US $37 million
One of the last cults of the 1990s, “Fight Club” also saw its fame grow with VHS and DVDs. In theaters, it raised just $100 million worldwide, at $37 million in the US – a figure quite modest for a movie that featured Brad Pitt, one of the geeks of that time, in the lead role. Yes! Even Brad Pitt can make our list of movies that failed at the box office.
More fun facts about Fight Club
- “Fight Club” is a 1996 novel by Chuck Palahniuk, later adapted into a 1999 film directed by David Fincher.
- The film stars Brad Pitt and Edward Norton as the unnamed narrator and Tyler Durden, respectively.
- The story follows an unnamed narrator who is suffering from insomnia and becomes involved in a secret underground fight club with Tyler Durden, a mysterious and charismatic figure.
- The film was a financial success, but initially received mixed reviews from critics.
- The film has since gained a cult following and is considered a cult classic.
- The film’s theme of consumerism and critique of modern society has been noted by critics as being particularly relevant to the current economic and social climate.
- The film has been interpreted as a commentary on masculinity, with the fight club being a representation of the narrator’s struggle to define himself as a man.
- The film’s ending, in which the narrator realizes that Tyler Durden is a manifestation of his own psyche, is considered one of the most iconic and mind-bending twists in film history.
- The film’s dialogue and imagery have become iconic and widely quoted, with the phrase “The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.” becoming particularly well-known.
6. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
Cost: US $3million
Box office: US$4 million
One of the biggest hits on television, “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” did not do well when it was released in theaters. The box office was minuscule, with just over $500,000 being raised! The new 2005 release with Johnny Depp in the lead role was more successful: at a cost of $150 million, the film grossed $474 million around the world and $268 million in the United States alone.
More fun facts about Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
- “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” is a 1971 musical fantasy film directed by Mel Stuart and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.
- The film is based on Roald Dahl’s 1964 novel “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.
- The film was a box office success and received generally positive reviews from critics.
- The film’s songs, written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, have become well-known and include “The Candy Man” and “Pure Imagination”.
- Gene Wilder’s portrayal of Willy Wonka is considered one of his most iconic roles.
- The film’s depiction of the Oompa Loompas as small people with orange skin and green hair, was criticized for being racist when the film was released.
- The film was later remade in 2005 as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka.
- The film’s sets and special effects, particularly the Chocolate Room, have been praised for their imaginative design and have become iconic images associated with the film.
- The film has since become a cult classic and is considered a classic of children’s cinema.
5. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2011)
The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2011)
Cost: US $170 million
Box office: US $73.8 million
The film was nominated for 11 Oscars, having won five of them (photography, special effects, art direction, sound editing and sound mixing). Even so, the box office was not so high, with the movie barely paying itself around the world. In all, it raised $185 million, being only $73.8 million in the US. That’s why The Invention of Hugo makes our list of movies that failed at the box office.
More fun facts about The Invention of Hugo Cabret
- “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” is a novel written and illustrated by Brian Selznick. It was published in 2007.
- The book is a blend of fiction and illustration and is considered a novel in words and pictures, or a graphic novel.
- The story is set in Paris in the 1930s and follows the adventures of an orphan boy named Hugo Cabret who lives in the walls of a train station and tries to repair an automaton, a mechanical man, left to him by his father.
- The book won the 2008 Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children.
- The book was adapted into a 2011 film directed by Martin Scorsese and titled “Hugo,” starring Asa Butterfield and Ben Kingsley, which was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 5.
- The book and the film both explore the early days of cinema, and the life and work of the pioneering French film director and inventor Georges Méliès, who is a central character in the story.
- The book includes an extensive use of drawings, sketches, and photographs to tell the story, which was inspired by Selznick’s visit to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York.
- The book has been praised for its imaginative storytelling and its ability to appeal to both children and adults.
- The book has been translated into over 30 languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide.
4. Citizen Kane (1941)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Cost: US $839 thousand
Box office: US $1.5 million
Often voted “the best film ever”, “Citizen Kane” had to wait for the years to pass for this recognition. At the time of its launch, it raised just $1.5 million! The times were different, of course, but box office hits already existed – “And the Wind Took,” released two years earlier, for example, grossed $ 198 million!
More fun facts about Citizen Kane
- “Citizen Kane” is a 1941 American drama film directed, co-written, produced, and starred by Orson Welles.
- The film is considered one of the greatest films ever made and is often cited as the greatest American film of all time.
- The film tells the story of the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, a powerful newspaper tycoon, through the use of a non-linear narrative, with multiple perspectives and flashbacks.
- The film was a commercial failure upon its release, but has since been widely acclaimed by critics and filmmakers.
- The film was nominated for nine Academy Awards, winning one for Best Original Screenplay.
- The film is notable for its innovative narrative structure, use of deep-focus photography, and its experimentation with sound.
- The film’s cinematography, art direction, and sound design were all groundbreaking at the time and have been widely imitated in the film industry.
- The film’s central character, Charles Foster Kane, is widely believed to have been based on the real-life newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who was a powerful figure in American media in the early 20th century.
- The film’s ending, in which Kane utters the word “Rosebud” as he dies, is considered one of the most iconic and mysterious in film history
3. Children of Men (2006)
Children of Men (2006)
Cost: US $76 million
Box office: US $35 million
Science fiction hardly makes its career in theaters: Alfonso Cuarón’s “Sons of Hope” is another example, since it did not even collect in the US half of what it cost! To make matters worse, not even the international box office has managed to reverse the loss, since it has collected $70 million worldwide.
More fun facts about Children of Men
- “Children of Men” is a 2006 British-American science fiction film directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, and Michael Caine.
- The film is based on P.D. James’ 1992 novel “The Children of Men”.
- The film is set in a dystopian future in which humanity has become infertile, and follows the efforts of a small group of people trying to preserve the human race by protecting the only pregnant woman on Earth.
- The film received widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay.
- The film’s social commentary on issues such as immigration, political corruption and the treatment of refugees has been widely noted.
- The film’s use of long takes and handheld camera work was praised for its realism and intensity.
- The film’s depiction of a future London as a war-torn, overcrowded and decaying city was widely praised for its realism and attention to detail.
- The film’s climax, a car chase in which the main characters are pursued by armed militants, was shot in a single take and is considered one of the most intense and well-executed action scenes in recent film history.
- The film has been interpreted as a commentary on current political and social issues, as well as a warning about the potential consequences of neglecting the problems facing our society.
2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Cost: US $ 25 million
Box office: US $ 28 million
Many people’s favorite movies made their fame in the old VHS and in the sessions themselves in the screenings, since, during its passage in the cinemas, it hardly reversed the costs: it only profited $3 million, something derisory for a so beloved film which makes it on our list of movies that failed at the box office.
More fun facts about The Shawshank Redemption
- “The Shawshank Redemption” is a 1994 American drama film directed by Frank Darabont and starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman.
- The film is based on the 1982 novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” by Stephen King.
- The film tells the story of Andy Dufresne, a man who is wrongfully convicted of murder and sent to the Shawshank prison, where he befriends a fellow inmate, Red, played by Morgan Freeman.
- The film was not a box office success upon its release but has since gained a cult following and is now considered a classic.
- The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.
- The film’s performances, particularly those of Robbins and Freeman, have been widely praised.
- The film’s themes of hope, friendship, and the possibility of redemption have been widely noted and have made it a favorite among audiences and critics alike.
- The film’s ending, in which Andy escapes from prison and leaves a note for Red, is considered one of the most uplifting and satisfying in film history.
- The film has been ranked highly on various lists of the greatest films ever made, including the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Movies list, where it is ranked as the number one film on the “Inspirational” category.
1. Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner (1982)
Cost: US $28 million
Box office: US $27.5 million
Ridley Scott’s film is one of the most important science fiction films in history. Since its launch 35 years ago, the film has become cult among moviegoers, but during the original release it did not go well: it covered more production costs! The box office of US $31.8 refers only to the US market, and there are no international data.
Something similar happened to the sequel, “Blade Runner 2049,” released this year: costing an estimated $150 million, the film, called the classic since, earned just $88 million domestically. Joining the worldwide box office gives a total of $248 million – still down for a movie with such an inflated budget. Making number one on our list of movies that failed at the box office.
More fun facts about Blade Runner (1982)
- “Blade Runner” is a 1982 science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young.
- The film is based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”
- The film is set in a dystopian future in which genetically engineered humanoids, known as replicants, are used for dangerous or menial work on off-world colonies.
- The film was not a commercial success upon its release but has since gained a cult following and is now considered a classic of the science fiction genre.
- The film’s depiction of a dark, neon-lit future has been widely influential in popular culture, particularly in the cyberpunk genre.
- The film’s visual effects, particularly the creation of the futuristic city, have been widely praised and are considered groundbreaking.
- The film’s themes of the nature of humanity, the relationship between humans and technology, and the ethical implications of advanced science have been widely discussed by critics.
- The film’s central character, Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, is a “Blade Runner,” a police officer tasked with hunting down rogue replicants.
- The film has multiple versions, the initial release and Director’s Cut and the Final Cut, which was released in 2007 and is considered the definitive version.